Michigan State Presents Biggest Challenge Yet For Northwestern

Ryan DietzContributor IOctober 13, 2009

EAST LANSING, MI - OCTOBER 14:  Demond Williams #9 of the Michigan State Spartans tries to get around the tackle of Ross Homan #51 of the Ohio State Buckeys during second quarter action on October 14, 2006 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. Ohio State won the game 38-7.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

If you look at Northwestern's opponents through six games and their records, you get the sense that the Wildcats have gotten away with scheduling murder.

Towson: 2-3

Eastern Michigan: 0-5

Syracuse: 2-4

Minnesota: 4-2

Purdue: 1-5

Miami (OH): 0-6

Northwestern is an average team.  Nothing more, nothing less.  This weekend will be the biggest challenge yet for the Wildcats as Michigan State is coming off of two big wins over Michigan and Illinois.

The Spartans were the sexy pick to win the Big Ten title coming into the year, but little issues here and there have hindered them.  Almost every game has been close for Michigan State. They lost by three at Notre Dame, eight at Wisconsin, and two to the probably MAC Champion, Central Michigan.  This is a good team that is only getting better.  The win over Michigan gave the Spartans confidence and the win last week over Illinois was a complete dismantling of the Illini.

Did I mention the 'Cats are playing in East Lansing? Many will say that Northwestern has won there the last few times, but throw out history whenever Big Ten plays Big Ten.  The better team usually wins, and the better team is Michigan State.

A team like Michigan State will keep Northwestern out of the game if the team continues to sputter in the first quarter, as they did against Syracuse, Minnesota, and Purdue. 

In addition, the stats don't lie.  Michigan State is tops in the Big Ten in passing offense.  We'll discount the non-conference teams and the Big Ten teams that Northwestern has played and Syracuse have been able to throw all over the field.  Expect Keith Nichol to do the same. 

Northwestern fans need to hope for a miracle.  This one will probably be a shootout, but how comfortable are you with Northwestern in a shootout anymore?