The Michigan State Spartans have four games on the schedule that they could lose in 2012. The following is a week-by-week breakdown of Sparty's schedule and projected final record.
To open up the season, the Spartans will host the Boise State Broncos in East Lansing. Victory will be no easy task, but the Spartans defense will be snarling at home. State's speed and athleticism will disrupt Boise State's offensive flow.
In their first tough matchup of the season, I give the advantage to Michigan State.
The next three games on the schedule shouldn't present a legitimate threat to Michigan State. The Week 3 matchup against Notre Dame could get interesting, but the Irish will not give State too much trouble. In Weeks 2 and 4, the Spartans will roll against both Central and Eastern Michigan.
In Week 5, Michigan State will host the Ohio State Buckeyes for the first time under new OSU head coach Urban Meyer. Before heading to East Lansing, the Bucks do not have to go through any major opponents.
Surely Meyer will have his team prepped for Michigan State's schemes; the younger Buckeyes team will be hungry.
Still, Michigan State's defense is too tough at home.
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller will face a tough test and most likely be unable to succeed. The advantage once again goes to Michigan State.
Following a close battle with Ohio State, Michigan State will ride the momentum of victory to two more wins against Indiana and Iowa before heading to the Big House to take on rival Michigan.
State will enter the game with an undefeated 7-0 record. Michigan will be 5-1 with an opening-night loss to Alabama.
Wolverines QB Denard Robinson will make his third attempt to solve the Spartans defense and have the Big House crowd behind him. Michigan has the advantage of seeing a top-caliber defense like the Crimson Tide earlier in the season.
On the other hand, Michigan State will come in to Ann Arbor on a serious roll, and look to keep rolling.
Behind a power running game and a staunch defensive effort, I think the Spartans will get it done.
After beating Michigan, the Spartans will feel on top of the world at 8-0. Unfortunately for Michigan State, they immediately depart Ann Arbor for Camp Randall in Madison, Wisconsin.
Wisconsin represents Michigan State's biggest challenge of the 2012 season. The Badgers are a familiar opponent, as the two squared off in the 2011 Big Ten Championship Game for a berth in the Rose Bowl.
Senior running back Montee Ball will exploit Michigan State's defense. The unit will be a bit fatigued and emotionally drained after the previous week's battle with the Wolverines. If the Spartans hosted Wisconsin this year, they'd hold the advantage.
However, for the only time during the regular season, Michigan State will fall.
The last four weeks of the season following their loss include a home matchup against Nebraska, a bye week, hosting Northwestern and closing out on the road against Minnesota. State should take care of all three opponents.
Michigan State's 11-1 record at the end of Big Ten play will vault the Spartans into a rematch against Wisconsin in the 2012 Big Ten Championship.
The winner—headed to California for the Rose Bowl.