The Michigan State Spartans open the 2016 season Friday night with a home opener against Furman. This should be the surest win of the 2016 season.
Despite the fact the Spartans under Mark Dantonio have five 11-win seasons in the last six years and three Big Ten Championships placing Dantonio as the second winningest coach in Spartan history. The 2016 season could have several bumps in the road.
Who does Spartan Digest publisher Dave Berk see capable of beating the Spartans this season?
WHO CAN BEAT MSU?
NOTRE DAME: The Spartans have several teams capable of knocking them off in 2016 and it starts with the second game of the season when the Spartans hit the road in Week Three for a battle with Notre Dame.
A road contest against the Irish is a major test for the Spartans as they’ve not beaten the Irish in South Bend since 2007 when Dantonio led them to a 31-14 victory. Dantonio is 3-4 against the Irish at Michigan State with three consecutive losses since the magical “Little Giants” win in 2010.
Last season the Irish finished 10-3 overall with a perfect 6-0 mark at home. A win here would be an upset as the Irish are sure to be favorites in their third game of the season.
NORTHWESTERN: The Spartans have gone 5-2 against Northwestern since Dantonio arrived on campus and some may question why I’ve included the Wildcats in this list. Remember, the two losses were both in Spartan Stadium (2007 OT, 2012) and this year the game is Homecoming. So will the team be focused with their job on the field or find distractions?
Last season the Wildcats finished 10-3 overall and 4-1 on the road. Some feel Pat Fitzgerald has the Wildcats ready for another top season as he returns several key members.
MICHIGAN: Michigan State has had Michigan’s number since Dantonio arrived with the Spartans holding a 7-2 mark against the instate rival since the 2007 season. Last season’s 27-23 win will be talked about until the end of time between these two teams. The Jim Harbaugh “Love Fest” is in full bloom with many picking the Wolverines to not only win a Big Ten Championship but also make the College Football Playoffs as they come off a 10-3 mark last season.
The last time the other team in the state won a game in Spartan Stadium came in 2007 and everyone remembers what was said after that game by running back Mike Hart.
This set the "TONE" for what has happened since with the Spartans being 4-1 in games at Spartan Stadium. But many already have the Spartans and others losing to Harbaugh's second squad.
Is there a curse on the Wolverines? Or is the sleeping giant about to be awaken?
OHIO STATE: Dantonio may only be 3-4 against the Buckeyes since taking over the Spartans but each win provided the Spartans with major rewards. Last season’s 17-14 win spoiled the Buckeyes dream of having a chance to win back-to-back National Championships and Urban Meyer will not let his team forget it when they come to East Lansing in November. The Buckeyes may have lost a lot of talent the past two seasons but if recruiting rankings are to be believed, they are loaded in 2016 with many feeling Meyer has them set for a long run of championships going forward.
Keep in mind the home team has not fared well in this match up the past few years and the last time the Spartans beat the Buckeyes in Spartan Stadium it was 1999. All signs point to a Spartans loss in this game more than any other game in 2016.
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So there are four teams in our opinion that could knock off the Spartans in 2016. There are a couple of more games that had us scratching our head with the likes of Wisconsin, BYU and even Indiana. However, the good thing about the four games we talked about is the fact the Spartans will be in Spartan Stadium for three of the four.
Tell Spartan Digest what you think.