Game-by-game predictions for Michigan State football in 2022

·6 min read

What kind of encore can we expect from Michigan State after last year’s breakout season under Mel Tucker?

The Spartans took a massive leap forward in 2021, going from 2-5 to 11-2 and winning the Peach Bowl. Now, the question is whether Michigan State can build off last year’s success and duplicate it with another strong season in 2022.

The season is still more than four months away but it’s never too early to look ahead, right? Here are my game-by-game predictions for the Spartans’ 2022 campaign:

Sept. 2: vs. Western Michigan Broncos

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Prediction: Michigan State wins

Michigan State has won 12 of its last 13 season openers (lone loss coming in COVID season) and has never lost to in-state foe Western Michigan. So while the Broncos will be one of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) this year, I like the Spartans’ chances to again start the season with a victory.

Series History: Michigan State leads 11-0

Sept. 10: vs. Akron Zips

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Prediction: Michigan State wins

While Western Michigan is a solid MAC team, Akron is not. The Zips have won three games in the last three seasons and are projected to finish near the bottom of the league. Joe Moorhead was a great hire for Akron long-term, but don’t expect him to work wonders right away. The Spartans will cruise in this one.

Series History: First meeting between Michigan State and Akron

Sept. 17: at Washington

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Prediction: Michigan State wins

The Spartans’ first tough test of the 2022 season will come in a cross-country road trip to Washington. Like Akron, Washington will be breaking in a new coaching staff this season and is also projected to finish near the bottom of the Pac-12. The Huskies have plenty of talent, however, and it’s never easy to travel that far and win a game. So expect this one to be a close battle with my gut leaning toward the Spartans.

Series History: Michigan State leads 3-1

Sept. 24: vs. Minnesota

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Prediction: Michigan State wins

Minnesota is not an easy follow-up game to a cross-country road trip, so don’t be surprised if the Spartans slip up in their Big Ten opener. However, with this being a home game, I’m confident Michigan State will put up enough points to hold off the Golden Gophers’ upset bid.

Series History: Michigan State leads 30-17

Oct. 1: at Maryland

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Prediction: Michigan State wins

This is another one where Michigan State will be favored, but don’t expect it to be easy. Last year, Maryland proved it can hang up points, and I expect the same thing with Taulia Tagovailoa back under center for the Terps. This one will be a shootout with the Spartans surviving late.

Series History: Michigan State leads 10-2

Oct. 8: vs. Ohio State

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Prediction: Ohio State wins

Michigan State is perfect no more. This one will feature a pair of top-10 undefeated squads. Like last year the Buckeyes will be too much for Michigan State. I’m hoping (and expecting) we see a much closer game than last season’s top-10 battle, but, in the end, Ohio State is too talented and on a mission to get back to the top of the Big Ten.

Series History: Ohio State leads 35-14

Oct. 15: vs. Wisconsin

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Prediction: Michigan State wins

Michigan State proved last year it was able to rebound from an embarrassing loss to the Buckeyes against a tough opponent. I’m envisioning the same thing here against Wisconsin. The Badgers aren’t considered the runaway favorite to win the Big Ten West Division this year, so I like Michigan State’s chances of slowing Wisconsin’s rushing attack and moving the ball through the air in this matchup.

Series History: Michigan State leads 30-21

Oct. 29: at Michigan

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Prediction: Michigan wins

Can Mel Tucker make it 3-0 against Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines? It pains me to say it, but I don’t think it happens (at least right now in April I don’t). The Wolverines return a ton of offensive firepower, and it’ll be an extremely tough atmosphere the Spartans are walking into on Halloween weekend. I may change my mind about this one before the fall rolls around, but right now I’m giving Michigan a slight edge.

Series History: Michigan leads 56-36-4

Nov. 5: at Illinois

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Prediction: Michigan State wins

Illinois surprised people last fall, but it doesn’t look like the Fighting Illini will be as tough of a task this fall. Michigan State rebounds against potentially the last-place team in the Big Ten West Division.

Series History: Michigan State leads 26-19-2

Nov. 12: vs. Rutgers

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Prediction: Michigan State wins

Michigan State will go from playing arguably the West Division’s worst team to the East Division’s worst team to start November. Rutgers is not a cakewalk anymore, but this is still a game the Spartans should win at home.

Series History: Michigan State leads 9-4

Nov. 19: vs. Indiana

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Prediction: Michigan State wins

The last of three very winnable games to start the month is a senior day matchup against Indiana. The Hoosiers are hard to read after an extremely disappointing season a year ago, but I still feel good about the Spartans’ chances in this game — especially with numerous key seniors playing their final game at Spartan Stadium.

Series History: Michigan State leads 50-15-2

Nov. 26: at Penn State

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Prediction: Penn State wins

Like last year, Michigan State will be playing for an at-large bid for a New Year’s Six game in its season finale against Penn State. However, this year I think the Nittany Lions get the best of the Spartans. Michigan State comes up short against Penn State and finishes 9-3.

Series History: Tied at 17-17-1

Final Record and Bowl Prediction

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Final Record: 9-3 (4th in Big Ten East)

Michigan State won essentially every toss-up game a year ago, and this year I’m not anticipating every bounce to go its way. Combine that with a harder schedule, and I have trouble seeing the Spartans matching last year’s record. This year’s squad appears better overall, but two of their three hardest games are on the road. While Ohio State is at home, there’s just too much of a talent gap to contend with the Buckeyes yet. Even though I’m predicting the Spartans to lose to each of the three top teams in the Big Ten East Division, I still consider 9-3 with wins over Wisconsin and Washington a successful season in Year 3 under Tucker.

Bowl Prediction: Michigan State to the Tampa Bay Bowl (formerly known as Outback Bowl)

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