The Paul Bunyan Trophy is on the line when No. 4 Michigan welcomes heated in-state rival Michigan State to The Big House on Saturday in a prime-time nationally televised game. The Wolverines hope to move to 8-0 for the first time 2016 and snap a two-game Spartans winning streak in this series. Jim Harbaugh's squad is fresh off a dominant 41-17 win over No. 13 Penn State behind 418 yards rushing with huge games from running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards.
Michigan State has struggled mightily in coach Mel Tucker's third season, getting out to a 3-4 record and losing its first three games of Big Ten play. However, the Spartans finally found some life offensively in a 34-28 double-overtime win over Wisconsin with quarterback Payton Throne throwing for a pair of touchdowns.
Tucker is the first Michigan State coach to ever win his first two matchups against the vaunted Wolverines. Running back Kenneth Walker ran for touchdowns of 58 and 23 yards to launch the Spartans past Michigan a season ago in a battle of unbeaten teams. However, Walker is now playing on Sundays, and Michigan State is a massive underdog against its rival in 2022.
How to watch Michigan vs. Michigan State live
Date: Saturday, Oct. 29 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Michigan Stadium -- Ann Arbor, Michigan
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Michigan vs. Michigan State: Need to know
Power run: The Wolverines had one of the best rushing offenses in the country last season, but they might be even better in 2022. Corum should be on Heisman shortlists with 901 yards and 13 touchdowns with five regular season games remaining. Edwards finally found his rhythm against the Nittany Lions, while quarterback J.J. McCarthy has also created mismatches in the run game. Only three teams in college football boast more rushing touchdowns than Michigan, two of which run the option.
Massive collapse: Michigan State's run to 11-2 in 2021 was charmed, but the fall has been stark. With Walker and receiver Jalen Nailor in the NFL, the Spartans have regressed mightily on offense. Michigan State averages just 3.7 yards per carry and no receiver has more than 400 yards. The win over Wisconsin was the first time in conference play that Thorne threw more than one touchdown in a game. That sort of effort won't cut it against a physical Michigan defense.
Through the air: Michigan State's passing defense remains one of the worst units in the country and gives up more yards per pass attempt (8.2) than North Carolina, which ranks among the worst pass defenses in the country. However, McCarthy has barely tested his arm during the march to 7-0. The sophomore has thrown for fewer than 250 yards in five of his six starts, and a combined 300 yards against Iowa and Penn State. While that might work against a soft Big Ten schedule, McCarthy will have to open his game up when the Wolverines play quality competition if they make the playoff. This feels like the perfect opportunity for Harbaugh to open the playbook and let McCarthy get comfortable throwing different concepts.
Michigan vs. Michigan State prediction, picks
Harbaugh has still not beaten Mel Tucker since the latter arrived at Michigan State. That changes on Saturday. The Wolverines are the deeper, more talented and more physical team at every level coming into this matchup. Really, trying to find a single advantage for Michigan State in this game is a fool's errand. There's always the potential for weird rivalry game noise, but Michigan State simply might not be good enough to even make things interesting. Prediction: Michigan -22
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