CLOSE

Chris Solari, Graham Couch and Shawn Windsor discuss some Michigan State football on Oct. 10, 2017 as the team gets ready to play Minnesota.

EAST LANSING — Michigan State football is competing for a conference championship, and its highly anticipated basketball season is drawing closer.

It must be mid-October.

The Spartans play Minnesota on Saturday to mark the midpoint of the college football schedule. Tom Izzo, Miles Bridges and Tum Tum Nairn invade New York for Big Ten basketball media day next week. But before all of that, let’s see what’s on the minds of MSU fans in the land of soaring expectations.

What’s the best #MichiganExcuse you’ve seen this week excluding weather and turnovers? – @mitchsteur 

I don’t know about “best” so to speak, but the worst was the turnovers and weather combined. Michigan fumbled twice in the first half when it was dry, leading to one of MSU’s two touchdowns – both of which came before halftime.

More: Inside the Spartans: MSU football must forget Michigan win, focus on Minnesota

MSU busted a couple of nice runs against UM; the 50-yarder comes to mind. Something to be encouraged by or am I drinking too much Kool-Aid? – @brandonmanson 

The first half certainly was encouraging. Those 112 rushing yards (actually 114, with 2 subtracted for end-of-half knees) were impressive against a very quick and aggressive Michigan defense. Throw out the monsoon-slowing second half for both teams. MSU’s offensive line opened a few holes in those first 30 minutes that had not been there in recent weeks, and senior center Brian Allen said he does not believe the Spartans will face a better defense this fall.

More: Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio seeking ‘hot hand’ among running backs

What’s MSU’s weakest position group after 5 weeks? Which group will be the strongest by the end of the season? – @SteveBmSu 

Weakest has been, surprisingly, running backs. Strongest, not surprisingly, has been linebackers. And the most surprising has been defensive end, though cornerback is a very close second.

More: Michigan State’s Kenny Willekes enjoys career day in 1st Michigan game

Can we get a bowl game out of this season? – @Jerron1234 

New ceiling/floor projections for this year? – @gakitson 

I predicted 7-5 before the season (I had MSU entering the Minnesota game at 3-2, only missing the win over Iowa so far). Seeing some of the opponents, such as Indiana and Northwestern not living up to preseason expectations, and knowing Maryland’s injury situation at QB, the Spartans’ hopes have risen. I always set the high-water mark this year at nine wins, and it still seems very possible. If the wheels fall off right now, MSU should still get to seven wins and a bowl berth.

More: Michigan State football vs. Minnesota: Scouting report, prediction

Why hasn’t Coach D gone on to the NFL? Has he even had any NFL offers? – @g0lds 

A question that piqued my interest. Do not know if Mark Dantonio has ever received an offer, at least not to be a head coach. There are a few factors at play. First, he has always been a college assistant and head coach. Second, his age (61) may turn off some NFL general managers, though not as much as his lack of previous pro experience. But more importantly, Dantonio believes himself to be as much an educator as a coach. It comes from his father, Justin, having been a high school teacher, coach and vice principal, and Dantonio believes he can make an impact in young lives by coaching in college.

More: Shawn Windsor: Michigan win might be sweetest for MSU’s Mark Dantonio

More: Shawn Windsor: It’s time to stop doubting Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio

When is Pat Narduzzi gunna get fired and return home as (defensive coordinator)? – @TheRealKzoury 

Narduzzi has wanted to be a head coach for his entire career, and his next job will be as one (see Bo Pelini). And if he does get fired at Pitt, it won’t be anytime soon, regardless of a 2-4 start this year. He’s coming off two 8-5 seasons, fits the mold of the city and has increased the program’s recruiting profile in Western Pennsylvania. More importantly, MSU’s co-coordinators Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel have the Spartans playing their best defense since 2013, Narduzzi’s next-to-last season. By the way, Narduzzi is 18-14 in his third year at Pitt; Dantonio was 18-17 in three seasons at Cincinnati.

What teams are the biggest threat to Michigan State on their path to getting a #1 seed in the Tournament? Who’s worth breaking a sweat over? – @MrStephenLong 

Hoops question! Well, I’m assuming you mean NCAA Tournament and not the Big Ten tourney. I would put the five schools that will be right there with MSU competing for a No. 1 seed will be Duke, Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas and Wichita State. I say those with a caveat — one, Arizona, has already been implicated in the FBI probe into college basketball. There are whispers about others. That investigation and the potential indictments — like they altered expectations for Louisville — could have plenty of ramifications on this year’s national title hunt as it extrapolates during the season.

More: MSU’s Tom Izzo: College coaches in state ‘sleeping fine’ despite FBI probe

What’s the status of the backup QB situation?  Haven’t seen any QB’s in briefly as we’ve had in years past, any possibility of that soon? – @sacohoon 

Damion Terry is No. 2. The senior is the only other quarterback to receive reps this season, albeit just two series’ worth of work in the opener against Bowling Green. Redshirt freshman Messiah deWeaver has yet to play and has not taken a non-practice snap since the 2016 spring game. Rocky Lombardi did not make the travel roster to Michigan, which all but assures the true freshman will redshirt at this point in the season. With how limited Brian Lewerke’s in-game reps really received last year — yes, he played in four games, but only got one full game, one half game and a few series in the other two appearances — he will see the bulk of them from here out, barring injury.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Download our Spartans Xtra app for free on Apple and Android devices!