No. 8 Washington travels to Michigan State on Saturday for one of Week 3’s most interesting nonconference matchups — in more ways than one. The Spartans are reeling following the recent suspension of coach Mel Tucker, who was put on leave without pay after .
Tucker’s future at Michigan State is in doubt as the university works through its investigation. Former defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett, who served as an associate head coach under former Spartans boss Mark Dantonio, will serve as interim coach while Tucker is suspended. The Spartans are 2-0 to start the year, though they have yet to face power-conference competition.
Washington, meanwhile, is hoping for big things this season. The Huskies came in at No. 8 in the most recent AP Top 25 and are the second-highest ranked Pac-12 team behind sixth-ranked USC. Washington is an early contender to win the Pac-12 in the final year of its current form before joining the Big Ten.
The Huskies played host to Michigan State last season and made an early statement with a 39-28 win, propelling them to an 11-2 campaign and an appearance in the Alamo Bowl. Saturday marks the fifth meeting all-time between Washington and Michigan State, with Washington holding a 3-1 advantage in previous contests. The Huskies are heavy favorites to add to that total.
How to watch Michigan State vs. Washington live
Date: Saturday, Sept. 16 | Time: 5 p.m. ET
Location: Spartan Stadium — East Lansing, Michigan
Live stream: Peacock
Michigan State vs. Washington: Need to know
Long time coming for Barnett: A Michigan State man through and through, Barnett was a three-year starter at safety for the Spartans from 1986-89 under coach George Perles. He returned to Michigan State in 1997 and worked as a sideline reporter when Nick Saban was coach of the Spartans. In 1998, he started his coaching career at Princeton (Ohio) High School, and by 2007 was hired as the defensive backs coach at Michigan State. In 2015, Dantonio made Barnett associate head coach and added co-defensive coordinator to his responsibilities. After a brief stint at Florida State, Tucker hired Barnett as defensive backs coach in 2020 on his inaugural staff.
Washington has deep history against Big Ten: Washington will be seeing a whole lot more of the Big Ten next season, but the Huskies already have a pretty deep history against one of college football’s premier conferences. Washington has played 98 games against current Big Ten teams throughout its history with a 49-47-2 record in such contests. UW has played each current Big Ten team at least once, though it only has 10 games against Big Ten opponents since 2003.
Michael Penix Jr. building Heisman campaign: Through two games, the Washington quarterback is No. 1 among all FBS players in total offense, No. 2 in passing yards per game and No. 4 in completions per game. He should exceed 1,000 passing yards on the season against Michigan State, and his passing marks through Washington’s first two games of the season each rank top-10 in program history. He had 450 yards through the air against Boise State, good for fifth all-time, and 409 yards against Tulsa, good for ninth all-time.
Michigan State vs. Washington prediction, picks
Odds via SportsLine consensus
Simply put: Washington is in a much better spot than Michigan State, even without all the turmoil brought on by Tucker’s recent suspension. Washington’s offense is unlike anything the Spartans have seen this year, with a 2-0 start that includes wins against Central Michigan and Richmond. Working in Michigan State’s favor is a home crowd that will rally around its football team. That won’t be enough to make this game interesting in the end. Prediction: Washington -16
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