Perfect in Big Ten, No. 16 Michigan St meets Northwestern
No. 16 Michigan State (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) at Northwestern (4-3, 2-2), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN).
Line: Michigan State by 2.
Series record: Michigan State leads 37-18.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Tied with No. 6 Ohio State and No. 2 Penn State for the Big Ten East lead, Michigan State looks to remain unbeaten in conference play with games against the two other leaders of the division coming the next two weeks. Michigan State has won four straight by eight points or less since losing to Notre Dame, including a 17-9 victory over Indiana last week. Northwestern beat Iowa for its second straight win last week — 17-10 in overtime on QB Clayton Thorson’s 1-yard run.
QB Brian Lewerke against Northwestern’s defense. Lewerke struggled for most of last week’s game before throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Felton Davis with 5:59 remaining. Michigan State ranks 12th in the conference in scoring and ninth in passing. But Northwestern is just 13th against the pass.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Michigan State: Lewerke ranks fourth in the Big Ten in total offense at 239.3 yards per game and second among conference quarterbacks in rushing (44.7 rushing).
Northwestern: RB Justin Jackson. The Wildcats’ all-time leader in yards rushing, all-purpose yards and rushing attempts, the senior is closing in on two touchdown marks. With 36 rushing and 37 total TDs, he is just shy of Damien Anderson’s program records of 38 in each category.
FACTS & FIGURES
Michigan State has already doubled last year’s win total and become bowl eligible. ... The Spartans are looking to go to 5-0 in Big Ten play for the fourth time in school history. They haven’t done that since 2013, when they went 8-0 before beating Ohio State in the conference championship game. ... Michigan State leads the Big Ten in total defense. ... The Spartans have scored 18 points or less in four of the past five games. ... Michigan State won last week despite gaining only 274 yards. ... Northwestern won at Michigan State 54-40 last year. ... The Wildcats have scored on 24 of 26 trips to the red zone, with 19 touchdowns.