Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Michigan State @ Michigan

This is the Game of the Week in the state of Michigan. Michigan State (6-0) is ranked #7 in the AP Poll and is coming off of a 31-24 ho-hum win over Rutgers. Michigan (5-1) is ranked #12 and man handled Northwestern last week 38-0. The Spartans won last year's match up in East Lansing 35-11. Michigan leads the all-time series 68-34-5. They also lead the all-time Big Ten series which features the Paul Bunyan Trophy 35-25-2.

The Spartans have sputtered since reaching the #2 ranking back in week two. Injuries have decimated many of the their strengths and remain huge question marks entering the game in Ann Arbor. State is however; still undefeated and are led on offense by starting QB Connor Cook. The 5th year senior is once again having a solid season having thrown for over 1,300 yards, along with 12 TD's and only 2 Int's thus far. His favorite target has been senior WR Aaron Burbridge who has already has 34 receptions this season. True Freshman L.J. Scott leads the Spartan rushing attack and has scored 6 TD's while averaging 6.0 ypc. Look for his workload to go up this week with Madre London most likely out for this week's game.

Defensively, the Spartans have been less than stellar this season and have failed to live up to the lofty standards set by recent Spartan defenses. Senior Shalique Calhoun leads the MSU defense with 5 sacks and 6 tackles for loss while junior Riley Bullough leads the team with 55 tackles. Senior Lawrence Thomas and sophomore Malik McDowell are part of the best defensive line the Wolverines will have seen all year.

Michigan has surprised many after their opening week defeat at Utah. Coach Jim Harbaugh has shown many what the hype was all about as he has turned the Wolverines from a soft team into one of the nation's most physical. The offense is led by senior transfer QB Jake Rudock. His numbers aren't gaudy, but he does just enough to help make the Michigan offense effective. Tight end Jake Butt has showed everyone why he is the best player at his position in the country by hauling in 22 reception thus far to go along with 1 TD. The improved offensive line has helped bolster a running game that is averaging over 200 yards per game led by junior De'Veon Smith.

The strength of Michigan's team this year besides Harbaugh has been the defense. Michigan has shut out three straight opponents and currently has one of the nation's best defenses along with Boston College. The Wolverines lead the nation in scoring defense. Senior's Joe Bolden and Desmond Morgan lead the Michigan defense in tackles. Senior DT Willie Henry leads the defense in sacks with 4 while senior DE Chris Wormley leads in tackles for loss with 7. Sophomore Jabril Peppers has been outstanding on defense and special teams this season and may be the most exciting defensive player the Wolverine have had since Heisman winner Charles Woodson.

This should be a great game and I am quite certain that we will see the best from both of these teams. Michigan has the edge in playing at home. Match ups to watch will be the Michigan defensive line against State's offensive line along with Michigan's Jake Rudock against State's secondary. Another match up to watch is the head coaches, as they match wits. Jim Harbaugh is a great coach and has had the advantage in each of the first 6 games this season. That won't be be the case this week as Mark Dantonio is one of the best coaches in the country. Ultimately this game will come down to State's Connor Cook against the Michigan defense. With the exception of week 1, the Michigan defense has feasted on young and/or inexperienced QB's. That won't be the case this week in Cook. UM will look to get pressure on him and force him into making some mistakes.

While Michigan at this point is a 7 point favorite, this to me looks like a pick'em game that would make Michigan a slight favorite because they are the home team. If we want to go with the look test, Michigan looks like the better team at this point. With that said, I will go with the higher ranked Spartans. Pick: Michigan State 20 Michigan 17




54 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm picking Tennessee to upset Alabama.
#9 Dad

stosento said...

UM offense vs MSU defense - passing: This is the first year that MSU doesn't have a lights-out secondary. They're missing Narduzzi, sure, but they don't have the talent in the secondary like they used to. The big question is if Rudock will be able to take advantage of it. He's been looking better in the pocket as of late, but hasn't hit many deep passes all year. I'm expecting a lot of screens and short quick passes to try to out-athlete MSU's secondary and eliminate the pass-rush from a pretty scary MSU d-line.
Advantage: Wash

UM offense vs MSU defense - running: Michigan's O-line has improved this year dramatically. This D-line will be one of the best Michigan will face. I still think Utah's is better than MSU's, but they're both pretty darn tough. I'm not gonna go into the statistics, but I think Michigan will be using the run to keep MSU honest on D to set-up the play action more than anything else. They'll get some yards, but will definitely need to look to the air more than they have previously to keep the chains moving.
Advantage: MSU

MSU offense vs UM defense - passing: The most intriguing match-up in the game. Also the most important in determining the outcome. MSU has a seasoned veteran in Connor Cook, who's 29-3(!!!) as their starter. That's fantastic and he is a great player. His receivers are disciplined and can take a hit. I was very impressed with how many well-contested balls the MSU receivers came down with against Rutgers. UM boasts one of the better secondaries in the country right now, with Jourdan Lewis being an absolute lock-down corner all year. Opponents are 11-34 for 67 yards and 2 INTs while targeting him this year. Him on Burbridge will be a fun and crucial match-up. The d-line is fantastic for UM, boasting incredible depth. I don't expect their rush to have the same effect on Cook that it's had on other QBs this year, but it'll force Cook to make throws under pressure.
Advantage: UM

MSU offense vs UM defense - running: Could have mentioned this in the passing as well, but MSU is BEAT UP on the O-line. It's pretty hard to say exactly who will be there on Saturday, but it's far from 100%. They probably won't be able to run against the D-line of Michigan very well. Expect MSU to be using the run purely to set up the pass.
Advantage: UM

Coaching: Harbaugh...what else needs to be said? I am biased, but UM has done an insanely fantastic job at preparing for each team this year. They generate a gameplan that makes it hard for the opposing team to prepare for, and 3 straight shutouts, 2 of which were against ranked opponents, speaks volumes to that. Having 3 straight shutouts at any level of football is extremely hard to do. That speaks volumes about the quality of coaches Michigan has on their staff right now, and I'm confident they continue that on Saturday.
Advantage: UM

Michigan is too well coached right now for MSU to put up a decent fight. Michigan wins comfortably 27-7

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking Michigan 30 Michigan State 17.
Riverview Dad

Anonymous said...

1st time you've been a homer. Bama rolls. You best not make any Verna's bets or you'll be buying.

Anonymous said...

Dude I don't even know where Verna's is. Lol. I have been here for 4 years and I still have to use my GPS to get to all the Huron schools except for Airport!
#9 Dad

Anonymous said...

Why are you guys NOT talking about Tennessee and Alabama? This game is the biggest game in the nation!
#9 Dad

Anonymous said...

Loss of Narduzzi and injuries have had a great affect on state. Can they do it with mirrors vs Michigan... Im not sure.

Anonymous said...

TN loses to AL Oct 24th. You still have 10 days to buy tissues :)

Chris Schultz said...

I didn't know Tennessee still had a team.

Anonymous said...

34-17 Spartans.

Anonymous said...

Verna's is on Dixie Highway just South of St. Charles church & school in Newport (where future SMCC and Jefferson football players are great teammates).

Anonymous said...

Tennessee has a football team? LOL

Michigan is on a roll right now. Hopefully they carry the moment of 3 shut outs into this weekends game. i think Michigan can come out with the W. 28-20 Michigan

KC

Anonymous said...

So, anyways, I think mean green beats big blue 31-28. Just my opinion. JH is a great coach, he is going to do great things at U of M. But I think this is the last year State will be able to even compete for a win. JH will be getting all the recruits from here on out.
#9 Dad

Anonymous said...

Lol
#9 Dad

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to seeing MSU's passing game vs Michigan's secondary. Cook gonna have to have a big game for Spartans to have a chance. Michigan 24 MSU 10. EM

kw said...

I like Mich all the way!! I think Jimmys Project with Rudock is over and he is going to let him take the Training Wheels off. He will come out with a little more wide open game Plan!! Go Blue Mich 35-17

Anonymous said...

When the season is over I'll have to drop by and have a cold one and put some of these faces with their initials. How is the food? Or is it just a bar?
#9 Dad

Anonymous said...

The spread is at 8, watch to see if it hits 10 right before the game. If so Vegas is telling us it will be a blowout by the wolverines.

kw said...

@ #9 Dad the beer is cold and food definitely gets the job done. What place is there in Milan to have a cold one. I always look after games and cant find a place and just go to Dundee??? back in the day would hit Dino's but see that is closed!! Have Basketball and baseball coming up def need a few after Bear hoops lol Bear # 38 DAD

Anonymous said...

All of you picking a win either way by double digits aren't thinking clearly LOL. It's going to be a tight game, neither team really has much of an advantage. Also, LJ Scott is the next Le'Veon Bell for MSU.

Chris Schultz said...

I always go to the Gravity Brewing in Milan.

CoachTom48160 said...

I would also endorse Original Gravity Brewing Company (http://www.ogbrewing.com) for those looking for a pint and a bite in Milan.

As for the game, look out for the special teams of Michigan. Before the start of the season, this would have been thought of as a clear advantage for Michigan State. It could easily be the difference in this game!

Anonymous said...

Right not so fast wolverines close game but put your dues in first

Anonymous said...

#9 Dad, recruiting has not been U of M's problem... They consistently had top rated recruiting classes under Hoke, he just couldn't develop them. MSU has finished in the top 5 two years in a row, have 4 straight bowl wins, and have a record of 24-3 in last 27 giving them more wins than anyone in the country over that time except Bama and FSU. This stretch of success has allowed for good looking recruiting classes upcoming, but this team, like MSU teams in the recent past, is largely made up of unheralded recruits... Dantonio and his staff know how to develop talent. I guess this is my long-winded way of saying I think both teams will be good, and compete for BIG championships and college playoff births for as long as both coaches stay.

Anonymous said...

Rich Wolverine fans haven't had anything to bet on in about 7 years. Lots of wishful thinking bets from guys who can afford it. Vegas is going to make a killing on all of this hope. MSU 28 UM 17

Anonymous said...

@#38 bear dad, we normally just grill out ourselves.
Never been to Original Gravity.
We too tend to go to the steak house in Dundee.
#9 Dad

Anonymous said...

Tennessee will win, mark my words.
#9 Dad

stosento said...

Surprised how many Sparty believers there are out there right now. Did you not watch the Spartans struggle to a victory 24-21 over PURDUE??? Rutgers was extremely competitive with them...all game. Rutgers is not good. Rutgers is Rutgers.

Meanwhile Michigan put together 3 straight shutouts, 2 of which were against ranked teams. They just beat an undefeated NW team 38-0, a team that is VERY good defensively. If you can't tell that Michigan is already on a different level then you're blind.

MSUs best win is a 2 TD win over Air Force. That game also featured the only team with a winning record that MSU has faced this year. They dropped from #2 to #7 with 2 wins for a reason. They're on the fall. Big Brother is on the rise to restore the order.

Chris Schultz said...

Big Brother? You mean big sister! Of course scUM is on the rise, they couldn't get any lower. I think it's cute how the scUM fan base that has been in hiding since Mike Hart cursed the program is coming out of the woodwork.

Did you bother to look at the season statistics of the teams scUM has beaten this year? Those teams are abysmal. The last 3 weeks scUM has played against awful QB's. That is usually a good thing for a solid defense. Let's see what happens when they play a real QB, with real stats and a 27-3 record as a starter. You act as if State is 0-6 and unranked instead of 6-0 and ranked in the top 10.

I find two things extremely funny. One is that you scUM fans absolutely despise State fans because of the way they act. All they are doing is acting like scUM fans did from 1970 until 2006. I remember the scUM moniker when someone would say your that scUM fans are arrogant. The response was always the same, "you call it arrogance, we call it confidence". I used that on a scUM fan 2 weeks ago. He absolutely flipped a lid saying, "that is why we hate State, you don't know how to handle success, where were all of you guys the previous 30 years prior to RR and Brady Joke?" The other is, scUM fan says State isn't even a rival. Okay, whatever you say on that one. I mean I really don't know how to respond.

You can call me or any other state fan little brother or little sister all you want. Whenever I here that, I think of my children when my son was 12 and my daughter was 6. They squared off in an argument, my daughter punched my son right in the junk, as he fell to the floor yelping in pain my daughter said, "suck it up cupcake"! Or I think of the last 7 years!

Good luck tomorrow, it should be a great game. Jim Harbaugh makes the game fun. If State wins you have to put up with us State buttheads for another year. If scUM wins we simply face the same buttheads that many of us grew up with, that is, until Harbaugh bolts back to the NFL.

Anonymous said...

It was a nice little stint MSU but its over. You had a nice 6 year run or whatever it was. Now back the 100 year run Michigan was on. Even so so programs get good every once in a while. It was bound to happen to state.

kw said...

The bottom line is that i love when both team are relevant. It's great for the State and i love the excitement it brings. I personally root for Michigan, but have nothing against state. It use to be some heated times watching games with my dad Who was a MSU Grad and me being a Walt Mart Wolverine, but I love that both schools are in the talks for the Playoff!!. Go Blue but it should be a good One !!!

Chris Schultz said...

Looking to the past I see. ScUM fan loves to throw the all-time card. This rivalry basically started when State was finally admitted to the Big Ten, even though scUM continued to object. Previous to the Big Ten conference games, scUM played nearly every game at home and many times used paid players (professionals) to defeat State. (ah a part of history that scUM fan doesn't want to here).

Anonymous said...

The most wins in College football, 2nd best winning %, the best helmet, best fight song. Who else but BLUE!

There are a handful of iconic programs in college football. I would mention Michigan, Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State and Southern Cal. Those would be my top 5. There are others you can name as well.. like Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Michigan is on every list when you talk greatness and college football- past and PRESENT.

MSU is good under MD, but after Saturday the Spartans may need a true MD.

-bn

Craig M said...

1). what is scUM? I have heard it before and I just do not get it. Its not funny.
2). I get it, you hate the University of Michigan Chris, but your posts seems more angry than it should from a fan of a team that has won more in the past 10 years. All you need to say is LOOK AT THE SCORE BOARD THE LAST 10 years. Michigan Fans are so set on talking about history some might forget that the last few years are in fact history.
3). The problem here is State fans have turned into exactly what they claimed they hate, cocky, arrogant fans. I am still waiting for the Walmart comment to come out. Because I did not attend U of M I cannot be a fan.
4). No one is saying that MSU is not a rival, they are saying that OSU is a bigger rival. The fact that is bothers so many State fans is the reason that so many people keep saying it What I notice from a lot of MSU fans is they are always worried about what Michigan is doing or what Michigan fans are saying.
5). I hope to see a good game this Saturday. Win or lose I think that Michigan is on the rebound and if MSU does not wake up and play like they have the past few years they won't win this one.

Anyway, Have a great football weekend and GO BLUE. CRAIG M

Anonymous said...

Ya Im glad things like scUM and walmart wolverine are below some people.

Chris Schultz said...

To grab a line from the kids at my school, "You mad Bro?" ScUM is funny, you just don't think it is. The little brother comment is funny too! Walmart wolverine is funny as well. I think they are all funny. So do most people that don't take things so seriously. I will add something. I have a group of 6 friends on a continual text. Three are scUM fan and three are State fans. We banter year round. All the time. You can't believe the stuff that is said. Funny, funny stuff. Nobody ever gets mad.

I don't hate the University of Michigan. My daughter had reconstructive knee surgery there and goes to the same place the athletes go to for rehabilitation 1 to 3 times per week. We love the University of Michigan. I do like to have fun with scUM fan though. The problem is that many can dish it out, but cannot take it.

Nobody is saying that Michigan/Ohio State is not a rivalry, I am simply saying that many scUM fans refuse to admit that State is a rival too!

Please enjoy the banter, it is all in good fun. (as was the You mad Bro comment) LOL

It should be a great game on Saturday!

Anonymous said...

One way to get people to admit there is a rivalry between 2 teams is to call the other names. works every time.

stosento said...

MSU has been dominating Michigan the past 7ish years. Michigan hasn't even looked competitive in recent years. It's sad to admit but hey, give them credit, they've built a great program. As far as "season statistics of the teams scUM has beaten this year", Chris, let's compare Michigan vs. Michigan State in strength of their opponents thus far (I'm using the S&P+ rankings):

MSU
Rank - Team - W/L - Score
99 WMU - W 37-24
64 Oregon - W 31-28
67 Air Force - W 35-21
91 CMU - W 30-10
83 Purdue - W 24-21
103 Rutgers - W 31-24

UofM
Rank - Team - W/L - Score
13 Utah - L 17-24
85 Oregon State - W 35-7
86 UNLV - W 28-7
32 BYU - W 31-0
56 Maryland - W 28-0
12 NW - W 38-0

MSU has played 0 teams in the top 60. Michigan played 4, 2 of which are Top15.

Anonymous said...

One thing i know for sure. there is going to be some hitting going on out there on Saturday.

-bn

Chris Schultz said...

stosento great job. Break it down further. Look at opposing teams offensive and defensive rankings. I think you will find some interesting stats. Also, throw out Utah, it was a loss.

Anonymous said...

the main advantage for Michigan is that this game will be played at the big house. that place will be crazy. NW couldnt get out of there fast enough.

-bn

Anonymous said...

2009 MSU -4 in 2009 26-20 MSU, Spartans cover by 2
2010 UM -5 34-17 MSU, Spartans cover by 22.
2011 MSU -3 28-14 MSU, Spartans cover by 11
2012 UM-8 12-10 UM, Spartans cover by 6
2013 MSU -4 29-6 MSU, Spartans cover by 23
2014 MSU -16.5 35-11 MSU, Spartans cover by 7.5

-bn

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree BN. There is no better fight song than Rocky Top.
#9 Dad

Chris Schultz said...

Michigan has the best Fight Song. Followed by Notre Dame and USC.

stosento said...

I know what you're saying, Chris. The argument generally goes as follows:
1. Michigan lost to Utah, the only team with a pretty seasoned talented QB and a pulse on both sides of the ball.
2. Oregon St and UNLV are garbage...yes they are, no argument there.
3. BYU was in Ann Arbor off of a ROUGH 3-game stretch of Neb, Boise, and UCLA. They were also 2 hail mary's away from being 0-3 going into the Michigan game.
4. BYU, Maryland, and NW had some shaky young QBs.
5. Northwestern was overrated blah blah blah.

All 1-5 have some truth to them. But Michigan has handled these teams how they SHOULD handle those teams, outside of Utah. They're dominating and performing at a consistent level week in and week out. I would argue that they've only improved in every facet of the game with no regression. MSU can't boast the same. I can't remember the last time Michigan beat teams the way they should beat them (Akron 2013 anybody?).

I'm not gonna throw out Utah because I think that's a really great comparison to MSU. Both teams have pretty seasoned, good QBs. Travis Wilson of Utah is more mobile than Cook, but both have good arms. Both teams also have really good D-lines. Utah's might be the best in the country, but MSU's is up there.

The key match-ups will be, in this order:
1. Jourdan Lewis vs. Aaron Burbridge. Lewis is one of the best corners in the country, Burbridge is one of the best receivers in the B1G. What makes this the key matchup is due to the amount of targets he's getting per game. He is Cook's guy out there. While there are a few other targets...none nearly as many as Mr. Burbridge. If Lewis can contain him...watch out. If he can't, trouble for Michigan.

2. Michigan's D-line vs. MSU's O-line. Will MSU be able to put together a decent line on offense with their injuries? They've been having to shift around quite a few guys and patch things together with duct tape to put together a respectable front. Michigan has one of the deepest and most talented defensive fronts in the country. MSU will be game-planning with this in mind, but will it give Cook enough time in the pocket and will there be any semblance of a running game for the Spartans?

3. Rudock performance. He looked very efficient against Northwestern, which has a decent secondary. MSU has a good front 7 but the secondary talent isn't anywhere close to the level it had been in recent years. Carroo of Rutgers is great, but MSU looked horrendous trying to contain him. Can Rudock show that he's capable of taking advantage of this weak-point of MSU? Or will the Utah version of Jake Rudock show up?

Paul Lowe said...

I always thought the MSC on the smoke stack outside of Spartan Stadium stood for Michigan State Corrections, since that is where all the criminals go to school. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Anonymous said...

Hahahaha what a finish

Anonymous said...

You and Michigan forgot about special teams!

Anonymous said...

Well, that's unfortunate. It really is.

Anonymous said...

that last play was for that bad touchdown call for MICH. Mich players forward progress was truly stopped but nice makeup Sparty!!

Anonymous said...

You play until the whistle. MSU was celebrating before the ref blew the whistle. That's on MSU. The football gods probably didn't want to hear the UM idiots flapping their lips, so 1 bad snap later....

Anonymous said...

None of all that mattered. Great game!

Anonymous said...

There is some commentary that the Lions o-line is not as good this year because Riola retired. Point is that the center calls the blocking scheme. Wasn't MSU's starting center out? I don't think that UofM would have gotten nearly the pressure they got if the Spartans has their starting center.