The skies are gray in the Lansing area and there is a damp chill in the air. Leaves are beginning to change color and some have already fallen to the ground. For the first time this year, it feels like college football season. Combined with the excitement of post-season baseball (despite the Tigers' epic meltdowns in their first two games against the Orioles), this is my favorite time of the year.
Tonight, the Spartans take on Nebraska in what may turn out to be the most important Big Ten game of the season. Yes, I know "the Big Ten is down, blah, blah, blah," but it is MSU's conference and I still value a conference title. Beating Nebraska, an admittedly scary team that seemingly always has MSU's number, is a big deal and the first major step towards winning a second consecutive Big Ten title.
I still don't quite know what to make of this Michigan State football team. It's become clear that the Spartans miss the leadership of players like Max Bullough, Darqueze Dennard, Denicos Allen, and Isaiah Lewis. It's unclear who, if anyone, is developing into a leader for this year's team. Is it Connor Cook? Kurtis Drummond? Looking back at the Oregon game, when the situation started unraveling in the second half, nobody was able to take control and get the team's collective heads back in the game. Last year, the Spartans perhaps would have regrouped and probably not lost by 19 points (and, in fact, may have actually won the game). But who knows? That's just speculation.
Something that seems clear is that MSU has an explosive offense, and I hope it's able to continue this productivity against Nebraska. It's one thing to score 56 and 73 points against the likes of Wyoming and Eastern Michigan and quite another to keep it up against Nebraska. Of course, I don't expect MSU to score 50 points or more against the Huskers.
Since I'm almost completely incapable of picking against the Spartans, I'll say that home field and a more multi-dimensional offense will get MSU over the hump. Let's call it MSU 34, Nebraska 30.