MONDAY HUDDLE: How much regression will Michigan State have this year?

Spartans have a lot to figure out in a short amount of time

Michigan State wide receiver Keon Coleman sits on the bench with a towel on his head late in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Washington, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear) (Stephen Brashear, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Huddle up! Here’s a look back at this weekend on the gridiron, with three key takeaways from the state’s football scene -- and a glimpse at what’s to come next week.

Were MSU’s struggles against Washington a sign of things to come?

It wasn’t necessarily surprising that Michigan State went out to Washington and lost, given it’s usually never a winning proposition to fly out west and play a Pac-12 team on the road.

However, the way MSU lost was concerning.

The same weaknesses that plagued the Spartans even in an 11-2 season last year — shaky offensive line play and one of the worst pass defenses in the country — seemed like they were worse against Washington.

Washington quarterback Michael Penix, Jr., a tormenter of MSU when he was at Indiana, had his way with the Spartans again, throwing for 397 yards and four touchdowns.

Penix had plenty of time to make plays with little pass rush and threw to mostly wide open receivers. MSU ended up giving up 503 yards of total offense.

Washington also won the battle up front on the other side against MSU’s offensive line. Michigan State’s leading rusher, Jalen Berger, had 27 yards on 13 carries.

The silver lining was that quarterback Payton Thorne returned to form and wideout Keon Coleman could be emerging as a star.

But there are still major issues, starting with Saturday’s Big Ten opener at Spartan Stadium against the only team in the Big Ten West that seems to have it together right now, Minnesota.

The Golden Gophers are 3-0 to start the year and have two of the best offensive players in the conference, quarterback Tanner Morgan and running back Mohamed Ibrahim.

Michigan State had a late flight back to town after the Washington game, so it will be a quicker turnaround than normal.

A loss against the Golden Gophers would give the Spartans as many as they had all last year, with Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State still on the schedule.

Lions deliver in must-win game

It’s usually hard to say the second game of a year is a must-win game, but that seemed like it was the case for the Lions against the Washington Commanders.

Teams that start off 0-2 rarely make the playoffs, especially ones that lose the first two games at home, so it was a relief for the Lions that they started and finished strong to earn a 36-27 win over the Commanders.

Now, the Lions have a chance to make a statement that they contend in the division this year by earning a win at Minnesota on Sunday.

The Vikings will have a shorter week to prepare given their Monday night game against Philadelphia.

Martin Luther King tops Cass Tech in city showdown

One of the more anticipated high school games of the season took place on Friday, with Detroit Martin Luther King earning a 28-23 win at Detroit Cass Tech in a game that featured lots of future college players.

Martin Luther King held a 28-10 lead in the fourth quarter before Cass Tech rallied to make it 28-23 with under three minutes left.

But Martin Luther King, led by 5-star quarterback and Oregon-commit Dante Moore, held on to outlast its rival.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.