Michigan State is coming off of a rather disappointing season where injuries and a stagnant offense wasted another solid-if-not-elite Spartan defense.
Heading into the 2019 campaign, Mark Dantonio's group looks to be one of the more seasoned units in the Big Ten. The defense suffered minimal losses and should be pretty stout once again this season. On the offensive side of the ball, Brian Lewerke's health is the key to everything. He needs to make a full recovery from a shoulder injury suffered against Penn State last season and revert to his 2017 form.
If he can do that, the Spartans should have a shot to win every game they play.
The schedule isn't easy. Michigan State plays an improving Arizona State program during the non-conference portion. The Sun Devils beat the Spartans in 2018.
After that, the conference slate is dotted with road trips to Northwestern, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan. The Spartans do get Penn State at home, but having four of your five toughest games on the road is less than ideal.
Michigan State Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2019
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The 2018 season was a disappointing one for Michigan State, but a rebound year is within reach for coach Mark Dantonio's team. It’s no secret defense is the strength for the Spartans. This unit held teams to 17.2 points a game last fall and brings back standouts in end Kenny Willekes, linebacker Joe Bachie and cornerback Josiah Scott. However, for Michigan State to contend in the East Division, Dantonio has to find a spark on offense. He shuffled the responsibilities of the staff, giving play-calling duties to Brad Salem. Those changes should help, and quarterback Brian Lewerke is back at full strength after dealing with a shoulder injury in 2018. The Spartans need Lewerke to return to his 2017 level of performance and develop more consistency and better play out of the offensive line. The schedule isn’t easy, but Michigan State should improve on last year’s win total (seven) and find a way to pull off an upset or two this fall.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
None of the Spartans' three non-conference games is a gimme, but they should be able to take care of business, especially since all three are at home. Michigan State would love to exact some revenge when Arizona State comes calling in Week 3. The Big Ten slate will be a challenge, with five games on the road, including trips to Northwestern, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan. The games at Northwestern and Wisconsin and the home game with Penn State figure to be pivotal swing games that could be the difference in solid season (seven or eight wins) and a special one (nine or 10 wins).
J.P. Scott (@TheJPScott)
That aforementioned experience will be the key to navigating a tough road schedule. Look for Michigan State to come out of the non-conference portion of the schedule unbeaten. As far as conference play goes, the Spartans are simply built to shut down teams like Northwestern and Wisconsin defensively. Lewerke and Co. should be able to hang enough points on the board to get wins in those games. Ohio State is going to be tough, because regardless of the fact that Urban Meyer is no longer coaching the Buckeyes, the team in Columbus still has the most talented roster in the conference. The other game that makes me nervous is the one against an extremely underrated Penn State squad. I do like Michigan State's chances of coming away with a win in Ann Arbor against an overrated Michigan team.