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Reviewing our Staff Predictions for Michigan State vs. Minnesota

It wasn't the best week for the Spartans on the field, and while both of our staff writers predicted a loss, neither of us expected to see MSU beaten so soundly...

Michigan State opened Big Ten play this past weekend against Minnesota, but it did not go the way the Spartans had hoped. MSU was beaten in dominating fashion, 34-7, in a game the Golden Gophers controlled from start to finish.

While both our staff members predicted a loss for Michigan State, neither of us expected the game to be as one-sided as it ended up being.

Let’s take a look back at our predictions:

Matthew’s Bold Predictions

1.) MSU’s defense holds Minnesota’s Mo Ibrahim under 100 rushing yards

Mo Ibrahim finished the game with 103 rushing yards, barely over the prediction, but he was just the tip of the iceberg. Minnesota ended up rushing for 240 yards, and Ibrahim averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

Matt expected Michigan State to be more stout against the run then they were. Players were out of position, and the Golden Gophers continued to pound the ball off-tackle with a lot of success. Ibrahim is a powerful running back, and he helped Minnesota set the tone in this game.

2.) Jayden Reed has 5+ catches, 80+ yards, at least one touchdown

In his return, Reed had four catches for 21 yards, falling well short of Matt’s expectations. Minnesota’s defensive backs played well, an it was hard for Reed to get in a rhythm as MSU’s offense sputtered for most of the game. Reed didn’t catch a single pass in the second half, and didn’t play much in the fourth quarter.

3.) Payton Thorne throws for 275+ passing yards, three touchdowns

Thorne had his worst performance of the season, and perhaps his worst performance as Michigan State’s starting quarterback. We didn’t find out until after the game that Thorne did not practice in the week leading up to the game, as he battled through a shoulder injury. That certainly showed up on the field.

Thorne completed 17-of-24 pass attempts, which is pretty good on paper. But he racked up only 132 yards, threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball on a critical MSU possession. Two of those turnovers came on drives in which it looked like the Spartans would score.

Thorne didn’t record a passing touchdown either. There were no explosive plays, which is partially on the receivers and offensive line as well. Thorne hesitated to take long shots downfield, with his longest pass being just 18 yards.

Aedan’s Bold Predictions

1.) Tre Mosley extends his touchdown streak

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Mosley caught every ball that was thrown his way, which tallied him three catches for 28 yards. But the redshirt junior failed to reach the end zone for the first time this season.

Similar to Reed and the rest of his receivers, Mosley struggled against Minnesota’s secondary. Payton Thorne’s situation didn’t help either. Keon Coleman has become more of a go-to target, which will affect Reed and Mosley’s opportunities.

2.) MSU records their first interception of the season

Head coach Mel Tucker challenged an incomplete pass that may have looked like an interception, but was confirmed incomplete. That was the closest MSU got to a pick. The rest of the game was atrocious for the Spartan’s secondary.

Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan was 23-for-26 passing with three touchdowns, as the Golden Gophers threw down the field with ease. Michigan State’s defensive back play continues to struggle, and it doesn’t look like they’re getting better. Ten Minnesota players caught a pass, and solutions to the Spartans’ problems in the secondary are yet to be found.

3.) Jalen Berger rushes and catches a touchdown

Jalen Berger had neither a rushing or receiving touchdown. The transfer from Wisconsin had only six carries on the day for 23 yards, and added three receptions for 15 yards. Underwhelming, to say the least.

Berger’s performances against Western Michigan and Akron have worn off, and his starting role is seemingly up in the air after he was banged up a bit at the end of the Washington game. Jarek Broussard started this past Saturday against Minnesota. Michigan State needs more out of both of these backs if they’re going to turn things around.

Score Predictions

Matthew – Michigan State 31, Minnesota 33
Aedan – Michigan State 30, Minnesota 34

We both did predict a Minnesota win, and our predictions for the Gophers’ point total was accurate. Michigan State’s scoreline, not so much.

If it wasn’t for Noah Kim leading a drive down the field in the last minute of the game, Michigan State would’ve been shut out. Both of us staff writers defended Thorne before the game, but his performance held the Spartans back in this one. Kim has two passing touchdowns this season, and one incompletion. Thorne should still start, but Kim should’ve been put in earlier in this game, given the shoulder issues that Thorne struggled with this week.

Conference play doesn’t get any easier from here. Up next is a road trip to Maryland, who loves passing the ball. Similar to the Kim situation, the younger defensive backs need to see the field more. Freshman such as Dillion Tatum, Ade Willie and Caleb Coley have no reason not to be playing. Trial by fire is needed for this team right now.

Championship goals are nearly out the door for the Spartans. Many thought MSU would at least compete in every game this offseason, but now some fans are hoping just to make a bowl game. There is still time to bounce back, however unlikely it may seem. Growth can occur week-to-week in college football, that’s what makes it such a great sport. But there’s a lot of work to be done in East Lansing.