The Michigan State Spartans are off to a 6-0 start for the first time since 1999. On Saturday, MSU can run its winning streak to seven games and move one step closer to an undefeated season. The Spartans' opponent on Saturday is Illinois, which is really starting to get its season on track after what originally appeared to be a shaky start.
The Fighting Illini are 3-2 right now. Last week, Illinois got a big win at Penn State to go over .500 again. Here is a full look at what the Illini have done so far this season:
Sept. 4 - vs. Missouri - Lost, 23-13
Sept. 11 - vs. Southern Illinois - Won, 35-3
Sept. 18 - vs. Northern Illinois - Won, 28-22
Oct. 2 - vs. Ohio State - Lost, 24-13
Oct. 9 - at Penn State - Won, 33-13
Coming into the season, Illinois was expected to be at the bottom of the Big Ten, and most figured that this would be the end of the Ron Zook era. As it turns out, though, Illinois has gotten off to a very encouraging start. The two losses suffered by the Illini were to teams that have a combined record of 11-0, and last week's win over Penn State was a beat down. Yes, the Nittany Lions were banged up defensively, but Illinois dominated them in Happy Valley.
A lot of people have pointed to Saturday's matchup with Illinois as a possible trap game for Michigan State. After all, the Spartans are coming off of an emotionally-charged victory over Michigan and are riding high with a 6-0 record. Illinois looks to be a relatively solid team and should provide a decent test, so the trap mindset is understandable. Then again, it's worth pointing out that Michigan State has not fallen victim to a letdown after beating Michigan the last two years. In 2008, MSU went out and beat Wisconsin, 25-24, the week after ending its losing streak to Michigan. Last year, MSU went on the road and beat Illinois, 24-14, after its overtime victory over Michigan. While it can be tough to stay focused, Mark Dantonio's teams have shown no signs of having letdown games after Michigan week in the past, so that's an encouraging sign going forward, especially since this year's team is so talented.
Saturday's game is a noon kickoff in East Lansing. Big Ten Network has the broadcast.