No. 6 Michigan, No. 8 Michigan State meet with high stakes
No. 6 Michigan (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) at No. 8 Michigan State (7-0, 4-0), Saturday at noon EDT (FOX).
Line: Michigan by 3 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Michigan leads 71-37-5.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Much more than bragging rights. The winner will be in position to contend for a Big Ten conference championship and spot in the College Football Playoff. Recruits, considering both schools, may be swayed by the result of the game.
The team that can run the ball better will likely win. Michigan is averaging a Big Ten-best 253.3 yards rushing per game, ranking fifth in FBS, with RBs Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins. Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker has run for 997 yards, ranking second in the country, and nine touchdowns. The team with the most yards rushing has won 45 of the previous 51 matchups.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Michigan: QB Cade McNamara. He is averaging just 7.64 yards per attempt, ranking No. 61 in FBS. Coastal Carolina is the only ranked team that has thrown fewer passes than the Wolverines this season. The Spartans will dare McNamara to throw deep downfield and how he fares will probably prove to be pivotal.
Michigan State: QB Payton Thorne. He ranks among the top 25 in FBS in passing efficiency, passing touchdowns (15) and yards passing. The Wolverines also are expected to set up their game plan to stop the run and force Thorne to make plays through the air. Thorne does have big-play threats with WRs Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor.
FACTS & FIGURES
Michigan and Michigan State are facing off undefeated for the first time since 2015 when they were both 5-0 and the 17th-ranked Spartans routed the 18th-ranked Wolverines 34-17 at the Big House. ... The rivals are meeting with 7-0 or better records for the first time. ... They are matching up as top-10 teams for the first time since 1964. ... Michigan is 7-0 for the first time since starting 9-0 in 2016, when coach Jim Harbaugh's second team lost three of its last four games. ... Michigan State is 7-0 for the first time since beginning 8-0 in 2015 and going on to win the Big Ten title and advance to the College Football Playoff. ... The Spartans have won nine of the last 13 games against Michigan, their best stretch of success in the 113-game history of the rivalry since they were 14-4-2 from 1950 to 1969.
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