The Michigan State Spartans visit Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois on Friday September 3 for a Big Ten showdown against the Northwestern Wildcats. Michigan State was 2-5 and the covid shortened season last year and has added several transfers including five players from SEC schools. Quarterbacks Anthony Russo, a graduate transfer from Temple, and sophomore Payton Thorne are competing for the starting position. Kenneth Walker III, who is a former running back with Wake Forest, steps in to lead the running game.
Northwestern was 7-2 last season and defeated Auburn in the Citrus Bowl. last season. Northwestern was ninth in the conference in yards per game, while 10th in scoring. The starting quarterback will be Hunter Johnson who in 2018 transferred from Clemson and beat out Ryan Hilinksi, a transfer from South Carolina. The running game for Northwestern lost Cam Porter, their top back with a season-ending injury. Evan Hull will not take over as the top running back. The wide receiver corps will be led by Bryce Kirtz and Berkeley Holman.
Defensively Northwestern will have a strong front four led by Adetomiwa Adebawore and Samdup Miller. The Northwestern secondary will be led by Brandon Joseph, who had six interceptions last season and cornerback Cameron Mitchell. At linebacker, Blake Gallagher and Patty Fisher are gone but Chris Bergin returns and will play alongside Bryce Gallagher and Peter McIntyre.