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. Illinois game at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. (3:30, FS1/760).
► Matt Charboneau: Not many would have predicted before the season that entering this game the Fighting Illini would be on a three-game win streak while the Spartans haven’t won a game since late September; yet, that’s exactly the case. The Illini started with the upset of Wisconsin and are now riding an opportunistic defense, sitting just one victory from bowl eligibility. After one game in the last three weeks, MSU must find a way to move the ball while overcoming the loss of suspended linebacker Joe Bachie. The defense should fare OK in this one, leaving it up to an offense that has scored only 17 points in three games. It won’t be pretty, but expect MSU to finally get back in the win column. Michigan State 20, Illinois 10
► Angelique S. Chengelis: Illinois has won three straight and heads to Michigan State feeling awfully good about themselves, especially with Reggie Corbin running the ball and some solid defensive performances in recent weeks. Quarterback Brandon Peters, the transfer from Michigan, hasn't thrown the ball much the last few games, but can be a threat as a runner. But now the Illini are facing the Spartans that coach Mark Dantonio has described as a "wounded animal." Michigan State is 4-4, and unless the Spartans get caught looking ahead to next week's game against Michigan, the defense should hold them in against the Illini. Michigan State 17, Illinois 13
►John Niyo: The big betting line seems like a big stretch. Michigan State is looking for its first win in 42 days, while Illinois — one win shy of it's first bowl bid in five years — hasn't lost in a month. The Spartans are limping in with major injuries on offense and now a suspension blowing a hole in the middle of their defense. Maybe they've got enough left to end their skid, but not by much. Michigan State 21, Illinois 17
► Bob Wojnowski: Mark Dantonio will have to dig deep into his motivational vault to reverse the Spartans’ spiral. At 4-4, with defensive leader Joe Bachie suspended, they’re scrapping to become bowl eligible. Illinois under Lovie Smith has cranked up its defense and running game in three straight victories, but QB Brandon Peters is completing only 56 percent of his passes. For all the Spartans’ struggles, their defense has the talent to rally, and Brian Lewerke will pop a couple of clutch runs. Michigan State 20, Illinois 12