We're Talkin' Schedules - Michigan State

It's been a while, but we're back on the schedule analysis wagon. Next up...Sparty.

Woody Division: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Bo Division: Iowa, Michigan

Now: Michigan State

2010 Overall Record: 11-2
2010 Big Ten Record: 7-1

Non-Conference Opponents
9/2: Youngstown State (3-8)
9/10: Florida Atlantic (4-8)
9/17: @ Notre Dame (8-5)
9/24: Central Michigan (3-9)

Divisional Opponents
10/15: Michigan
10/29: @ Nebraska
11/5: Minnesota
11/12: @ Iowa
11/26:@ Northwestern

Crossover Opponents
10/1: @ Ohio State
10/22: Wisconsin
11/19: Indiana

Do Not Play
Penn State

If You Only Watch One Michigan State Game in 2011 (Other than against us): Yep, pretty much no mystery here. Ohio State on October 1st. OSU faces it's first and only B1G opponent without 5 of it's suspended starters. On one hand, MSU gets a huge break there. On the other, OSU should still be a tough team to beat, especially in Columbus, where MSU has struggled.

OSU's defense should be one of the toughest tests for the Michigan State offense. Dantonio is 0-7 against Ohio State, his former employer, during his tenure in East Lansing.

Non-Conference Loss: 2011 is a typical non-conference slate for Sparty. Three cakewalks and Notre Dame. So the obvious pick is Notre Dame in South Bend on September 17th, the week after Michigan plays the Irish.

Don't forget about the huge, career-defining fake FG that Dantonio called in last year's overtime thriller in East Lansing. Probably the play of the year. I'm sure Brian Kelly won't forget when the Spartans come calling.

My prediction: Kelly calls an onside kick on the opening kickoff.

It's a Trap!: Minnesota. Hands down. It follows a brutal stretch of games that MSU has to start the B1G schedule. And it falls before a huge trip back to Iowa. See the final analysis below.

The Game Destined for ESPN3.com: Florida Atlantic on Sept. 10.

Final Analysis: Sparty has a brutal stretch of playing at OSU, Michigan, Wisconsin and at Nebraska. That's a killer four games. They do get a break with a bye-week before the Michigan game. A lot of people predict MSU to be a B1G title contender. If they are, they're going to have to go at least 3-1 through those games...and then not lose again.

That four game stretch, plus the trip to Iowa City again (site of last year's 37-6 loss) and finishing the season at Northwestern is really going to challenge this team. Frankly, I don't see MSU contending for the B1G crown again. I think last year's Capital One Bowl loss to Alabama 49-7 signals that MSU had a nice run, but isn't a prime time program. I think a rough opening to the B1G schedule derails this team.

Fearless Predictions
Non-conference record: 3-1
Division Record: 2-3
Crossover Record: 1-2
Overall: 6-6

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