Bret Bielema took over an Illinois program that had been living in the Big Ten’s cellar for years and he won five games in his first season, but I don’t see the Illini taking a step forward here.
The last time Michigan State played Illinois was in 2019 and many believe that was the game that really ended the Mark Dantonio era. Although Michigan State might easily be the more talented team here, playing on the road in the Big Ten is never easy. I still see this as a confidence-boosting MSU win.
The first matchup Mel Tucker had as Michigan State’s head coach was at home against Rutgers and the Scarlet Knights got the best of him. It felt like a living nightmare as it was the Spartans’ first loss against Rutgers since it joined the Big Ten. They responded in 2021 by pounding the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway and now Tucker will get a chance to avenge that home 2020 loss in mid-November.
Rutgers’ quarterback situation is up in the air but the Scarlet Knights are more competitive under Greg Schiano. They’ll give Michigan State a battle here but it’s still not a ‘tough’ matchup.