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Staff Predictions: No. 11 Michigan State at Washington

The Spartans hit the road for the first time in 2022, and will be tested by the Huskies

Michigan State did what it was supposed to against two Mid-American Conference foes – Western Michigan and Akron – to begin the 2022 season, but we’ll get our first real look at the type of team the Spartans have in Week 3.

On Saturday, No. 11 Michigan State (2-0) faces its first Power Five opponent of the season, and will do so in a hostile environment for the first time in 2022 as well. Washington (2-0) is off a similar start as the Spartans, having defeated two opponents they were expected to in Kent State and Portland State.

This will be the first matchup between the Spartans and the Huskies since the 1997 Aloha Bowl, which resulted in a 51-23 victory for Washington. Michigan State is 1-2 all-time against the Huskies, with a 42-16 loss in Seattle in 1970 and a 27-11 victory in East Lansing in 1969.

For the first time in 2022, the Spartans enter a game as an underdog. The oddsmakers in Las Vegas currently list Washington as a three-point favorite. Michigan State had four outright wins as an underdog a season ago.

Without further ado, Spartan Nation senior writer Matthew Lounsberry and contributor Aedan Mulcrone each share 3 Bold Predictions as well as Game Previews, and Final Score Predictions below:

Matt’s 3 Bold Predictions

1.) RB Jalen Berger eclipse 100 rushing yards, scores a touchdown

Berger already has two 100-yard rushing performances under his belt, and I’m calling for him to do it again. The transfer from Wisconsin has already established himself as a steady, reliable back who runs with power and has enough speed and shiftiness to break off long runs as well.

The competition level goes up by a considerable margin this week, but I like what I’ve seen from Berger through two weeks. He already has four touchdowns on the year, and I think he adds another to his total this weekend.

The Spartans’ offensive line has been impressive in its run blocking through two weeks, we’ll see if that continues in Week 3.

2.) CB Ameer Speed grabs an interception

The Spartans defense has forced six turnovers already this season, all of which have come by way of fumble. I think it’s time for Michigan State’s secondary to get in on the action.

There’s still room for improvement in the Spartans’ pass defense, and that task has become even more challenging without Xavier Henderson back there. However, with Michigan State will give up some plays in the pass game on Saturday, I’m also calling for Georgia transfer Ameer Speed to make his first big play as a Spartan.

Speed will come up with a big interception against Husky quarterback Michael Penix Jr., adding his name to the list of impact transfers that Tucker has landed from the portal.

3.) Keon Coleman goes over 100 yards receiving, catches two touchdowns

I’m not sure what the situation is with senior wide receiver Jayden Reed. I expect him to play, but that’s nothing more than a hunch – I have no inside information regarding his status.

Because of that uncertainty, I’ll turn to Keon Coleman as the primary pass-catcher for the Spartans.

The true sophomore showed what he was capable of in Week 1 against Western Michigan when he had four receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. Coleman was quieter last week, with two catches for 36 yards against Akron, but this is the week that he’ll truly burst onto the scene for Michigan State.

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Aedan’s 3 Bold Predictions

1.) Tre Mosley grabs another touchdown

Mosley and Berger are the only two players to score in both games this season. The redshirt junior wide receiver has come up in big situations time and time again. If Michigan State wants to win this game, Thorne needs to find his receivers.

Mosley is averaging 19.3 yards per catch through two games. Every time he touches the ball it has big play potential. Washington has an older, but somewhat inexperienced defensive backfield, so it will be fun to see how they match up against MSU’s receivers.

2.) Charley Brantley gets a pick

Matthew is predicting Ameer Speed, I’m predicting Brantley. He’ll be the most physical cornerback Washington has faced this season. That could throw Husky wide receivers Giles Jackson and Jalen McMilan off their game.

The Spartans have yet to record an interception so far, but I think this is the week they do. Last season the DB’s struggled to pick up on tendencies. This year, while still improving, they have started to jump routes.

3.) Kendall Brooks leads the team in tackles

Angelo Grose has the most tackles for MSU this season, but the guy playing beside him at strong safety, Kendall Brooks, will see more action in Week 3. Since Brooks has replaced Xavier Henderson in the lineup, he’s played exceptional.

Playing against an air raid offense, I wouldn’t expect any of the defensive front to rack up a ton of tackles. Washington knows Brooks is filling in for Henderson, and will try to go at him as much as possible. For how well he’s played though, I think he can make them pay.

Matt’s Preview, Score Prediction

To be honest, I counted this in the win column for Michigan State all throughout the offseason. Washington went just 4-8 a year ago, and brought in an entirely new coaching staff, which needs time to establish themselves in Seattle.

However, it appears that new Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer has made a fast impact with this program. The Huskies are scoring a lot of points – albeit against subpar competition – but I think their defense is susceptible.

I was surprised to see Washington open as the favorite in this contest, but my sentiments towards this game have shifted to a more conservative optimism. While I once nonchalantly chalked this up as a Spartans’ victory, I now expect it to be a true test for MSU.

I still think that Mel Tucker and the Spartans make the trip to the West Coast and come home with a win, but the Huskies should not be overlooked as a threat. Score Prediction: Michigan State 34, Washington 30

Aedan’s Preview, Score Prediction

Michigan State had a similar game last year playing at Miami. That game became one of the defining moments last season. This could be another one, as the offense hasn’t played as well as expected.

The time change does concern me. Playing regular season games on the West Coast has been a struggle for not only Michigan State, but all Midwest and East Coast teams. This is likely the reason the Spartans aren’t favored. 

Michigan State's fanbase travels well, and there's an expectation that many Spartans will be traveling to Seattle for the game, so maybe that helps counteract some of the Huskies' home field advantage.

The 247Sports talent composite has Washington 14 spots ahead of MSU. That said, I think Michigan State has the best players on the field with Jayden Reed and Jacoby Windmon. They’re gonna sweat it out, but I think the Spartans fly back to East Lansing with the win. Score Prediction: Michigan State 30, Washington 27