No. 20 Michigan State takes on Thorson, Northwestern

Northwestern (1-3, 1-1 Big Ten) at No. 20 Michigan State (3-1, 1-0), 12:05 p.m. ET (FS1).

Line: Michigan State by 10.

Series record: Michigan State leads 38-19.


Northwestern nearly knocked off Michigan last weekend, and the Wildcats can re-establish themselves as a dangerous team in the Big Ten with a win over the Spartans. Michigan State is trying to take care of business at home before tough matchups with Penn State and Michigan.


Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson against the Michigan State secondary. The Spartans are ranked No. 1 in the nation in run defense, so Northwestern’s passing game should be crucial. Thorson has led the Wildcats to victories in the teams’ last two meetings, including a 54-40 shootout at Michigan State two years ago.


Northwestern: DE Joe Gaziano. The junior pass rusher is seventh on the program’s career list with 16 sacks. He leads Northwestern with 2½ this season.

Michigan State: WR Felton Davis. The Spartans lost receiver Cody White to a broken hand during last weekend’s win over Central Michigan, so there may be even more pressure on Davis to perform. Davis is second on the team (behind White) with 16 receptions for 278 yards.


Michigan State is allowing 40 yards rushing per game and has yielded fewer than 100 in seven straight. Only three FBS teams — Michigan State, Georgia and San Diego State — have yet to allow a run of more than 20 yards this season. … Northwestern has won four straight Big Ten road games. … The Spartans have set a school record for yards passing in each of their past two matchups with Northwestern. Michigan State threw for 424 yards in the 2016 game, and then broke that mark with 445 yards in last season’s triple-overtime loss. … Northwestern has only 13 penalties on the season, tied with Navy for the fewest nationally.