The best setting in college football… that’s the claim that Washington says about Husky stadium. The view certainly won’t be what the No. 11 Michigan State Spartans are worried about when they head there this weekend. This will be an extremely good test to see where MSU is as a football team in 2021.
This Washington game starts a very difficult schedule. Minnesota, Maryland, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan are next up. If MSU can go into Seattle and pull the upset they will feel a lot better about their upcoming stretch.
Michigan State Challenges
The reasons why this game is going to be so difficult for MSU, is the atmosphere, the inconsistencies of Payton Throne, and Washington’s revamped offense.
Let’s start with the atmosphere on Saturday 7:30 pm ET at Husky Stadium. The announcement made on social media that the game would be a Purple Out for fans in attendance. On top of that the venue is consistently over 100 decibels.
Michigan State does have players that have been in the atmosphere of playing in the shoe and been in tough road environments. This will be a big test to see how this Michigan State squad reacts to those sorts of conditions.
Michigan State Concerns
The biggest concern that everyone is wondering about is what version of Payton Thorne will show up on Saturday. Another concern is, will Jayden Reed play. To answer the Jayden Reed question I wouldn’t expect him to return punts or kick-offs. But how many snaps he plays is yet to be determined. On the other hand, Payton Thorne doesn’t need to be a superstar he just needs to do what he is asked of.
The Killer B’s (which is the running back duo of Jarek Broussard and Jalen Berger) will be what the offense depends on in this game. Last season the Huskies were one of the worst run defenses in the country. MSU will look to exploit that weakness. If the run is established early for MSU Thorne won’t need to carry the team to victory.
Shifting over to Washington, who has a revamped offense from a year ago. This is arguably the biggest home game of the year for the Huskies and they will look to make a statement on national TV. The Indiana transfer QB Michael Penix Jr. has looked very good in his first two games for Washington.
Pressure On the Penix
Zero times… that’s how many times Michael Penix Jr. has been sacked in his first two games and MSU needs to change that. The Spartans need to not allow Penix to go through his reads or he’ll have the opportunity to exploit some holes in the secondary. The MSU pass rush has been fantastic so far under Brandon Jordan and is led by transfers like Jacoby Windmon, Khris Bogle, etc. These guys need to continue to get after the QB and the Spartans will have much better success.
Another point on Penix is to not allow him to scramble on 3rd down because their RBs aren’t a concern; the focus needs to be on Washington’s air attack.
MSU 3 Keys
Yesterday, Mel Tucker said the three keys to the Washington game were to take care of the football, to be opportunistic on offense, and to be flawless on special teams.
I think being flawless on special teams is massively important because I expect Cade McDonald to be returning punts. You can’t have any turnovers. Freshman kicker Jack Stone needs to prove to Spartan nation that he can hit field goals in big moments. Every point will matter on Saturday.
If MSU can do all those things that Tucker wants and what I listed, the Michigan State Spartans should be able to come away with the victory.
Photo: Lansing State Journal