Michigan State Football: Michigan game will tell us a lot about Mel Tucker

Mel Tucker, Michigan State football (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Mel Tucker, Michigan State football (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Michigan State football is gearing up for a big game against rival Michigan this weekend and it’s going to tell us a lot about Mel Tucker.

The Mel Tucker era got off to a less than ideal start last Saturday. Michigan State came out flat against the Scarlet Knights, coughing the ball up early and often with seven turnovers to lose to Rutgers for the first time since it joined the Big Ten.

To say the doubters are out in full force would be an understatement as we’ve seen everything from “what a terrible hire” to “fire Tucker” muttered on social media.

Enough of that; give the man some time to develop his team, get his guys and if there’s no improvement by next season, then we can start to doubt. This man is basically in year zero with no offseason, taking off after National Signing Day. He deserves patience.

But we will learn plenty about how the Tucker era is going to go this weekend as the Michigan rivalry approaches. No, we aren’t expecting him to pull off a win, but if he can keep his team motivated and at least show that an effort is being made, he’s going to win over fans. He needs to take this rivalry incredibly seriously. If we see an effort like we saw in 2019, fans will be ready to jump ship on Tucker.

Michigan, on the other hand, is in year six of Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines looked fantastic in the opener, trouncing Minnesota on the road by 25 points.

Keeping this one close won’t be easy, but if Rocky Lombardi can continue to improve and the Spartans’ offensive line finally shows it has a pulse, there’s a chance at an upset.

Here’s how you can watch Saturday’s Michigan vs. Michigan State game:

Date: Saturday, Oct. 31
Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.
Venue: Michigan Stadium
Live Stream: FOX Sports Go

Keys to Victory

On offense, Michigan State must hold on to the ball. The Spartans may not have the firepower to win a shootout with Michigan, but they have enough playmakers to make it interesting, especially if the defense can step up. If all the videos from the Michigan State football Twitter account this week are any indication, the coaching staff has been drilling ball security and that’s priority No. 1. Another important issue? Offensive line play. Time to be competent, fellas.

Defensively, getting pressure on Joe Milton would have to be the most important key. Michigan State generated very little pressure on Noah Vedral and Rutgers last weekend and Milton is a much better runner and bigger body. He can hurt Michigan State with his arm and legs and to limit that, making him uncomfortable in the pocket is important. The line has to be more effective.

Betting Odds

Courtesy of The Action Network

Line: Michigan -23/5
Over/Under: 54


It’s going to take a heroic effort from Michigan State in this one if it’s going to pull off an upset of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Michigan’s front-seven are going to eat that Spartan offensive line up and Lombardi will be running for his life all day. Michigan State will keep it close for the first half (17-10), but it’ll be all Michigan in the second half.

Final Score: Michigan State 13, Michigan 38

Next. 3 takeaways from ugly loss to Rutgers. dark