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Detroit News predictions: Michigan State football vs. Minnesota

Matt Charboneau, Angelique S. Chengelis, John Niyo and Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News predict the outcome of Saturday’s Michigan State-Minnesota game at Spartan Stadium (3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network/760).

Matt Charboneau: Minnesota has quickly become the team to beat in the Big Ten West, but that is more about the fact the Gophers remain unbeaten after beating up on subpar competition through three weeks. That doesn't mean the Gophers aren't good. They have one of the nation's top backs with Mohamed Ibrahim leading a potent rushing attack and a veteran quarterback in Tanner Morgan. They're also a solid defensive team and excitement is beginning to build around Minneapolis. That said, Michigan State will be more equipped to face the Gophers' offense than Washington's from last week while the MSU offense can lean on the improved play of Payton Thorne and the passing game. Expect the MSU rushing attack to rebound after a rough showing against Washington and help Michigan State make a statement that the sky, indeed, is not falling on the season. Michigan State, 31-24

Angelique S. Chengelis: The Spartans learned a lot about themselves in the loss at Washington last Saturday night, and while it wasn’t pleasant, it was illuminating and gave Coach Mel Tucker a road map for what needs fixing. The pass defense is an issue, and while the run game wasn’t prolific, that was probably more a function of getting behind early. They have capable backs, and they have a tough, tested quarterback in Payton Thorne, who had 323 yards and three touchdowns as he tried to will a comeback in that game. Receiver Keon Coleman is a threat defensive coordinators need to figure out how to defend. Minnesota hasn’t exactly been tested so far this season and beat up on weak competition, but what the Gophers do have is outstanding back Mohamed Ibrahim, who is No. 2 nationally in rushing averaging 154.7 yards and is tied for first with seven touchdowns. He’s a big reason why the Gophers rank No. 2 nationally in total offense (554.7) and absolutely the reason why they are No. 2 in rushing offense, averaging 312.7 yards. Minnesota suffered a blow losing its top receiver Chris Autman-Bell to a season-ending leg injury last week. Expecting MSU to rebound. Michigan State, 31-27

 ► John Niyo: Minnesota is the lone unbeaten team in the wasteland that is the Big Ten West, but that may simply be a function of their weak nonconference schedule. The Gophers also are a team that has fared pretty well away from home (12-4) the past few years. Both of last year's road losses were close ones against ranked opponents in Ohio State and Iowa, too. But one thing Mel Tucker's team did well a year ago was to bounce back after a tough road loss, and I'll be a bit surprised if this group doesn't do the same, injuries notwithstanding. Michigan State, 24-20

More:Detroit News scouting report: Michigan State football vs. Minnesota

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Bob Wojnowski: The Spartans’ pass defense is a mess, but that shouldn’t be the overriding concern in this one. Minnesota is second in the nation in rushing, led by Mohamed Ibrahim. The Gophers are 3-0 and averaging 50 points per game but haven’t beaten anyone of note. It’s hard to say MSU’s season hangs in the balance in the Big Ten opener, but at 2-1, it's wobbling. Mel Tucker vowed changes, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the entire secondary is shuffled. The running game has been spotty, which puts a ton on QB Payton Thorne and his fine receivers. Keon Coleman will continue his ascent and the defense will look better against a run-oriented opponent. Michigan State, 26-23