gettyimages 10295411781 The No. 20 Ranked Michigan State Spartans Take on Thorson, Northwestern

TEMPE, AZ – SEPTEMBER 08: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans reacts during warm ups to the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

gettyimages 900307202 The No. 20 Ranked Michigan State Spartans Take on Thorson, Northwestern

TAMPA, FL – JANUARY 1: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines looks on from the sidelines during the second quarter of the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game against the South Carolina Gamecocks on January 1, 2018 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

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.

KEY MATCHUP

gettyimages 1043149782 The No. 20 Ranked Michigan State Spartans Take on Thorson, Northwestern

EVANSTON, IL – SEPTEMBER 29: Clayton Thorson #18 of the Northwestern Wildcats passes against the Michigan Wolverines at Ryan Field on September 29, 2018 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

gettyimages 607364726 The No. 20 Ranked Michigan State Spartans Take on Thorson, Northwestern

EVANSTON, IL- SEPTEMBER 17: Joe Gaziano #97 of the Northwestern Wildcats reacts after sacking the Duke Blue Devils quarterback during the first half on September 17, 2016 at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

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.

gettyimages 1025653002 The No. 20 Ranked Michigan State Spartans Take on Thorson, Northwestern

EAST LANSING, MI – AUGUST 31: Felton Davis III #18 of the Michigan State Spartans catches a fourth quarter pass in front of Ja’Marcus Ingram #2 of the Utah State Aggies at Spartan Stadium on August 31, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State won the game 38-31. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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.

FACTS & FIGURES

gettyimages 10430536781 The No. 20 Ranked Michigan State Spartans Take on Thorson, Northwestern

EAST LANSING, MI – SEPTEMBER 29: Raequan Williams #99 of the Michigan State Spartans rushes the quarterback while playing the Central Michigan Chippewas at Spartan Stadium on September 29, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State won the game 31-20. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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.

© 2018 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. TMS

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