And with that, Michigan State is right on schedule for its huge conference showdown the second weekend of November.
Getting today out of the way first, MSU had little problem dispatching its in-state rivals, kicking Michigan to the East Lansing curb by the score of 35-11. The Spartans held a 14-3 halftime lead, and needed to do little else in the second half to win its sixth in the last seven meetings of what’s currently a lopsided rivalry.
The Wolverines did score their first offensive touchdown against the Spartans since 2011, although that was akin to putting spinnin’ rims on a Yugo. Sparty has now beaten the Wolverines by a combined 47 points the past two seasons, and punctuated this win with, instead of taking a knee, a rushing touchdown by its top running back with :28 left in the game.
Brady Hoke is now 2-5 in rivalry games against MSU and Ohio State, which is why he will be out in Ann Arbor at season’s end — if not sooner.
Statistically, it was, like the scoreboard, mostly MSU. The Spartans finished with a 446-186 edge in total offense, including a 158-yard edge in rushing.
Jeremy Langford had 177 of MSU’s rushing yards and scored three of their four offensive touchdowns.
The eighth-ranked Spartans, who will likely remain there giving what’s looking to be a dearth of upsets in the Top 10 this weekend, will now enter its second bye week preparing for what’s shaping up to be a monumental matchup dripping with College Football Playoffs implications. Coming off the bye, MSU will play host to 13th-ranked Ohio State in a game that will go a long way in deciding the Eastern Division of the Big Ten — and the conference’s potential rep in the first year of the CFP.
If the Spartans can get past the Buckeyes — and that’s not exactly a tiny if — MSU would likely be double-digit wagering favorites for its last three games against Maryland, Rutgers and Penn State.
The stage is set for MSU to, if they handle their business in two weeks, to throw its hat into the playoff ring. Again, though, that’ll be no small task.