Detroit News predictions: Michigan State vs. Northwestern

The Detroit News

Matt Charboneau, Angelique S. Chengelis, John Niyo and Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News offer their predictions on the outcome of Saturday’s Michigan State vs. Northwestern game at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. (noon, ABC/760).

Michigan State is second in the Big Ten in total defense, allowing 216 yards per game.

Angelique S. Chengelis: Just when it seemed Michigan State had figured out its offensive issues from the first game, they reappeared against Arizona State. There is still so much respect for the Michigan State defense, and if the Spartans can get any consistency from their offense, this is going to be a dangerous team in the East. The defense wasn’t flawless last week, giving up that late fourth-and-long and eventual touchdown, but how can it be when so much is asked of it game to game? Wildcats quarterback Hunter Johnson hasn’t gotten things clicking, and having a big-time game against this big-time defense seems unlikely. Northwestern’s defense will even things a bit but not enough. Michigan State 14, Northwestern 10

Matt Charboneau: If you like to wager on games, taking the under might be the play here. Both teams lean on their defenses while both offenses have had their share of troubles finding any consistency putting points on the board. Michigan State enters as a decided favorite, but the Spartans have lost three straight to the Wildcats and four of the last five. With an offense still struggling to find the end zone, that skid is likely to continue. Northwestern 13, Michigan State 10

John Niyo: Northwestern has won the last three in this series, and four of the last five. But for all the angst about Michigan State's offense, Northwestern's actually looks much worse early this season. It's hard to imagine it looking any better Saturday against the Spartans' elite run defense, either. Michigan State 21, Northwestern 13

Bob Wojnowski: Not the easiest place to heal a bruised psyche, but the Spartans have a significant edge in one area – their defense against Northwestern’s offense. The Wildcats are breaking in a new quarterback, Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson, who’s completing 43 percent of his passes, although he can run effectively. Michigan State’s offense will cut down on mistakes just enough, and Mark Dantonio will get the program’s victories record. Michigan State 10, Northwestern 9

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