Michigan State fans already dealt with a scare by in-state rival Western Michigan last weekend. With the lowly Akron Zips coming to town and the Spartans holding a -34.5 spread in their favor, there will be plenty of wandering eyes from those in the green and white. I decided to compile a list of games that will be more intriguing, more impactful, and more interesting for MSU fans as the battle in Seattle looms in the very near future.
Here are five games in college football you absolutely MUST watch if you're an MSU fan.
# 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (1-0) @ Texas Longhorns (1-0) 12:00 PM EST on FOX
Bryce Young vs. Bijan Robinson. Do I need to say more? I will, but that clashing of titans should be enough to sell this Big Noon Kickoff for you.
Alabama will have a true road test for the first time in ages, playing in DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium against a program trying to use the Crimson Tide as a mirror test for their own resurgence. While there is no direct link with the Spartans, any college football fan should tune in to this colossal non-conference battle between two very storied programs jostling for superiority in what will become the new SEC when Texas & Oklahoma expand the conference's reach in 2025.
North Carolina Tar Heels (2-0) @ Georgia State Panthers (0-1) 12:00 PM EST on ESPNU
Why would this mid-tier game matter whatsoever for a Michigan State fan? Well, for ego's sake.
North Carolina has, through two games, had one of the worst passing defenses in college football this season. Last week's 63-61 defensive disaster against Appalachian State was proof that the mantle of the worst secondary was passed from East Lansing to Chapel Hill. Spartan fans can watch with glee seeing North Carolina, once considered a potential ACC dark horse, go into Georgia State favored by only 7.5 points. That line is entirely due to the swiss cheese that UNC has in the backend of their defense. The Tar Heels are averaging 320 passing yards per game allowed, 640 total passing yards allowed in two games, and 42.5 points per game allowed.
Sit back and enjoy yourselves with this one, MSU fans.
Wagner Seahawks (0-1) @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-0) 4:00 PM EST on BTN
Don't look now, but Greg Schiano may have finally righted the ship in Piscataway, New Jersey. On the road at Boston College, the Scarlet Knights rallied from being down 21-12 to beat the Golden Eagles 22-21. The Knights were led by a running game that featured eight different players carrying the ball, and three scoring all of their touchdowns. Running the ball proved very effective for Rutgers as they carried the ball 42 times for 212 yards, averaging five yards per carry in the comeback win.
Schiano is bringing back the toughness and grit that he once had when Rutgers first rose to prominence under his tutelage. This will matter come November when Michigan State has a run of otherwise simple matchups after the gauntlet that the month of October will provide. Watching the growth of Rutgers as a physical, run-heavy, bruising team will be interesting to watch.
#20 Kentucky Wildcats (1-0) @ #12 Florida Gators (1-0) 7:00 PM EST on ESPN
A matchup between total surprises. The Kentucky Wildcats under Mark Stoops have proven to be a steady, reliable program in the SEC East, built in no small part on the volatility of the Florida Gators program in recent years. What has seemingly changed in the Swamp, however, is they may have finally found a new star at quarterback.
Florida's Anthony Richardson is must-watch material. Against a very talented Utah Utes side, Richardson showed true play-making ability by scoring three rushing touchdowns while also going an efficient 17/24 passing in the game. Multiple plays by Richardson, including this sick two-point conversion, will elevate the Gators into true spoiler territory in the SEC and will add to the legend of a potential superstar in Gainesville.
#10 USC Trojans (1-0) @ Stanford Cardinal (1-0) 7:30 PM EST on ABC
Make no mistake Spartan fans, we care about the growth of the USC program under Lincoln Riley. The expectation in Los Angeles is that USC rises back to the levels of success it had under Pete Carroll, restoring a dormant program that once haunted college football as the Alabama Crimson Tide does now.
Being on the road against David Shaw‘s side will be the first true test of this narrative for Lincoln Riley. All Big Ten fans will want to watch in primetime to witness what USC will look like when they eventually join the Big Ten. Will we be contending with another Michigan, a program finally rising above their recent ruin to play exceptional football that challenges Michigan State in all aspects, or will the pressure make the Trojans collapse much like has happened to them in the past decade?
Either way, Spartan fans will want to keep a close eye on USC and watch from a distance what transpires for the Men of Troy.