Saccone: Michigan State can still salvage season after rough month

Luke Saccone, Football Beat Reporter

The past month has not been an ideal one for Michigan State. The Spartans fell victim to one of their hardest stretches of games in program history. The schedule and the off-field distractions helped contribute to a rough few games. Everything aside, Michigan State still has a 4-4 record, and the ability to make a bowl game. And as always, the Spartans still have their game against the University of Michigan, a contest that’s always highly anticipated.

Michigan State’s schedule this season hasn’t been like any other schedule in almost half a century. It has not been easy for Michigan State. It’s the first time since 1972 that the Spartans have played three AP top 10 teams in a row. At the beginning of October, Michigan State looked at the month with hope against its three toughest opponents of the season. In the end, it was the result that the Spartans least wanted.

Michigan State’s strength of schedule is second in the FBS according to Jeff Sagarin ratings. First came a loss at Ohio State, a team that is at the top of the College Football Playoff rankings, and sits at number three in the AP Top 25. 

Credit: Logan Coles / RedCedarLog

Then, Michigan State traveled to Wisconsin to take on a team that went into the game undefeated. The Badgers were number eight in the AP poll that week and had one of the best defenses in the country. Wisconsin left the game, adding to its undefeated season.

Lastly, an undefeated Penn State team came into East Lansing and washed the Spartans away, just as the weather did. Penn State currently sits at five in the AP poll.

In the last month, there has also been a lot going on off the field for the Spartans. A total of six players for Michigan State entered the transfer portal. Also, more recently, senior captain Joe Bachie was declared ineligible by the Big Ten after after he tested positive for a drug that is considered a performance-enhancing substance by the conference. 

It was a huge blow for the Spartans, losing a senior captain, as he cannot practice and potentially will not play for the remainder of the season. 

This all seems like an excuse for the team’s poor performance as of late. Don’t consider all of these as excuses, but more as the evidence to Michigan State’s rough month.

Credit: Logan Coles / RedCedarLog

Now, looking ahead, Michigan State can still salvage its season. Three of its last four games are against unranked opponents. The Spartans host Illinois this weekend in the first chance to get back in the win column. Illinois is a similar team, and has a similar record to the Spartans.

Maryland and Rutgers sit as the last two teams on Michigan State’s schedule. The two teams are a combined 1-11 in the conference. 

The lone ranked team on the schedule for Michigan State is in-state rival Michigan. Despite the Wolverines rank, and the Spartans lack thereof, the game between the two teams is always competitive. The Spartans could play a large role of spoiler for the Wolverines, and could easily go into Ann Arbor and make it a good game.

Michigan State could escape one of its most difficult seasons ever with a winning record, and a bowl game. In order to make a bowl game, a team has to win seven games. With four games left, Michigan State has to win three of those. For Michigan State faithful, it has been a rough month, but it is still too early to give up on the team. The Spartans could still make something out of this season.

Lucas Saccone covers the MSU football team and is a part of Impact’s broadcasts as well.