Friday, November 27, 2015

Enlightened Spartan Preview: #5 Mich State vs Penn State

This is what awaits Quackenberg... 
Sagarin Ratings:  MSU #15, Penn State #42

MSU: 10-1/6-1. Penn St:  7-3/4-3
Saturday, November 28, 2015. 3:30 pm ET.
Spartan Stadium, Columbus, OH
Weather: 40 degrees, cloudy, winds 5-10 mph
Line:  Big Green favored by 11

The ES actually recorded a preview in Chicago... but the audio petered out.  So, here we are with our standard preview.  Hope to be back next week with a preview of the Big Ten Title game... IF WE BEAT PENN STATE

Penn State has a very good defense, but their offensive line is atrocious.  And, the Lion QB Hackenberg has been hammered all year - he only passed for 130-odd yards against Michigan last week on 13-32 (40%) passing... and yet PSU still hung around, trailing by only five points (21-16) midway through the fourth. 

But, Michigan State seems to be back with a force in the trenches... with a completely healthy offensive line and defensive line.  It showed in the total domination of the Ohio State interior.  Spartan defense allowed only 123 total yards to the Buckeyes, while rolling up 203 on the ground against OSU.  The surprise was the solid play of backup QBs Tyler O'Connor and Damien Terry, who filled in for our star QB, Connor Cook.  Each made a mistake, but for the most part ran a very, very well called game by the Spartan coaching staff: a combined 8-16 for 91 yards, 1 TD; better yet, a combined 16 carries for 50 yards.  And, allowing only 5 Buckeye first downs while the Spartans possessed the ball for 38+ minutes?  Domination. 

The refs?  If they did not allow the force-out-of-bounds by Aaron Burbridge that led to a 36 yard completion from Tyler O'Connor - the longest pass of the game on either side - I would have gone ballistic (considering how MSU was screwed at the end of the Nebraska game).  But, the Big Ten crew allowed it, and it was a different crew than what the Big Green has faced this year.  With the football gods on our side, MSU ended up scoring on the drive.  

Bottom line, it is amazing how well you can accomplish a task when you have the right tools: namely, your best, healthy players. 

MSU doesn't need to get fancy against the Lions.  As long as the boys play inspired in the trenches, it should wear down PSU as the game goes on.  I would expect to see a bit more of a passing game out of MSU - whether it is Cook or not.  Regardless, I find it difficult to fathom how the Lion offense will be able to stop the flood of the MSU defense pouring in on Hackenberg - and the repositioning of the MSU defensive backfield with the addition of Darian Hicks helping to create better pass coverage.  

With so much on the line - a trip to the Big Ten title, potential trip to the College Football Playoff. And, Michigan State's coaching has been, for the most part this season, very good.  

Predictions:  ChiSpartan:  MSU (with Cook) 34-21; (without Cook) 24-21.  EnlightenedSpartan:  MSU 31-13.    

If the Spartans win, a variety of scenarios are set up for the Big Ten title vs Iowa - read here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

College Football Playoff Scenarios for Michigan State

Let's not look past a very tough Penn State game this week; although Quackenbush doesn't look so hot (his offensive line is offensive) yet, the Nittany defense is tough.

But, MSU handles Penn State... so, OK, here are some predictions for Michigan State in the College Football Playoff.  Note that the Orange Bowl (Miami) gets seeds 1-4; Cotton Bowl (Dallas) gets seeds 2-3. 

Probable scenarios assuming MSU wins Big Ten title vs. undefeated Iowa, Clemson beats South Carolina, and Alabama defeats Auburn.
  1. Everyone wins out. MSU gets #4 seed. Book your rooms in Miami.
  2. Clemson loses ACC title.  The rest win out.  MSU gets #3 seed.  Book Dallas.
  3. Alabama loses SEC title.  The rest win out.  MSU gets #3 seed. Book Dallas.
  4. Clemson loses ACC title. Alabama loses SEC title.  MSU gets #2 seed. Book Dallas... or, MSU gets #1 seed pending tight win by Oklahoma; then, Book Miami. 
  5. Oklahoma loses to Ok St.  The rest win out.  MSU gets #3 seed.  Book Dallas.
  6. Clemson loses ACC title.  Oklahoma loses to OK St.  MSU gets #2 seed.  Book Dallas.
  7. Alabama loses SEC title.  Oklahoma loses to OK St.  MSU gets #2 seed.  Book Dallas.
  8. Clemson loses ACC title. Alabama loses SEC title.  Oklahoma loses to Ok St.   MSU gets #1 seed.  Book Miami.
If MSU wins vs Penn State but loses Big Ten Title?  It would likely play #9 Stanford in the Rose Bowl.  Book Pasadena.

If MSU loses to Penn State?  It would get the #3 Big Ten spot, the Capitol One Bowl.  Book Orlando.

Here are your top 7 playoff contenders:

#1 Clemson (11-0/7-0)

vs 3-8/1-7 South Carolina.
vs #14  10-1/7-0 North Carolina.

#2 Alabama (10-1/6-1)

vs 6-5/2-5 Auburn.
vs #12 10-1/7-1 Florida.

#3 Oklahoma (10-1/7-1)

vs #11 10-1/7-1 Oklahoma State. 
end of season.

#4 Iowa

vs 5-6/3-4 Nebraska.  
vs (projected) #5 11-1/7-1 Michigan State.

#5 Michigan State (10-1/6-1)

vs 7-4/4-3 Penn State.
vs #4 12-0/8-0 or 11-1/7-1 Iowa. 

#6 Notre Dame (10-1)

vs #9 9-2/6-2 Stanford.
end of season.

#7 Baylor (9-1/6-1)

vs #19  9-2/6-2  Texas Christian.
vs 4-6/3-4 Texas. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Big Green jumps to #5; awaits the Quakers

Michigan State surges in the polls to #5 in the College Football Playoff, with a convincing 17-14 victory at the horseshoe over Ohio State in Columbus.  Now, bring on the Quakers of The Pennsylvania State University.

The ES watched Quackenberg against scUM and thought, not only does the Quaker offensive line have no push or protection, but Quacker really didn't play well under pressure.   Now, the Quakers have great defense, but that will be tough sledding for a full day against a refurbished, and healthy, Spartan O-Line.  I'm looking forward to the stint.  And, the MSU defense has returned to form... playing off the charts.

The rankings...


Michigan State10-1565081316.517
Notre Dame10-164297619.78
Ohio State10-18858131022.54

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Spartan defense kicks crap out of whining Buckeyes who don't know how to lose

Wahooooooo!!!!!  Michigan State's defense kicked the CRAP out of Ohio State yesterday.  Taught those terrible Buckeye fans a lesson on how to play GOOD OLD FASHIONED FOOTBALL.   And, after missing a 43-yard FG earlier in the day, Michael Geiger had to hit a pair of 41-yarders (one didn't count as Ohio St called time out) in the rain to win.  Yeah!  Projections have MSU moving up to #6 or maybe #5...  MSU has the most impressive resume in America, beating Oregon, Michigan, and Ohio State, winning three ESPN Game Day contests - and did not lead a single second against scUM and OSU.

Biggest crowd in Ohio State history, over 108,000 people, watched MSU gift the 2-TD favorite Buckeyes their advantage, but nothing more.    Only 132 yards and 5 first downs from the "Mighty Buckeyes", and the Spartans won with two backup quarterbacks - not the trio of Buckeye QBs.  Gerald Holmes, LJ Scott, Damion Terry, Tyler O'Connor combined for more than 200 yards rushing.   That guy - yeah that Heisman guy,  Ezekiel Elliott?  12 carries for 33 yards.  Hilarious.

Now, all the Ohio State fans are whining and lighting up the Twittersphere.  And, Elliott and company are bailing because they don't know how to lose.  How classy is it when your Heisman-contending back says "there's no way I'm coming back next year."  What a sissy.  If I were a Buckeye fan or alumni, I would be embarrassed.  Instead, I am laughing.

Dear God, GROW UP Buckeyes.  You are lower than low.  Gouge Away, Buckeyes.

This was a brilliant defensive performance by Michigan State.  It's not about Ohio State.  It's about the MSU defense which had to have its best performance to hope to beat the Buckeyes.  MSU hit OSU straight in the mouth, made them bleed.  We pounded them and pushed them around all game long.  It's easily Michigan State's best defensive performance since the Rose Bowl in 2004. OMG, look at the stats:

                                    MSU      OSU
FIRST DOWNS...................       17        5
NET YARDS RUSHING.............      203       86
  Rushing Attempts............       51       29
  Average Per Rush............      4.0      3.0
NET YARDS PASSING.............       91       46
  Completions-Attempts-Int....   8-16-0   9-16-0
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS...........      294      132
  Total offense plays.........       67       45
  Average Gain Per Play.......      4.4      2.9
Fumbles: Number-Lost..........      2-2      0-0
Possession Time...............    38:10    21:50
Third-Down Conversions........  7 of 15  4 of 14

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Enlightened Spartan Preview: #9 Mich State vs #2 Ohio State

Sagarin Ratings:  MSU #21, *uckeyes #4

MSU: 9-1/5-1. Ohio St:  10-0/6-0
Saturday, November 21, 2015. 3:30 pm ET.
Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
Weather: 50 degrees, cloudy
Line:  Ohio State favored by 13

This is Game Day, the third time this year for the Spartans... yet MSU is getting zero love or respect from the national media.  This plays right into our hands.  With 2 inches of snow falling here in EL, it's nice to see the weather better down in Columbus for the game today.  Ohio State has yet to play a quality opponent - wait until they get a load of us!

Coach Dantonio always has his teams prepared and the Spartans play to the level of their competition.  It's nice to be as healthy as we have been all year, with Darien Hicks returning to the defensive backfield to add depth.  Key to the game:  the Spartan defensive line vs the Buckeye offensive line.  MSU needs to limit the OSU rushing game and put pressure on QB TJ Barrett to keep some pressure off the secondary.  

Sorry no video this week - just no time!  But the prediction:  Sparty will win, the ES is as confident today as he was 2 years ago heading into the Big Ten Title game.  MSU 27, Ohio State 26.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Ohio State a ridiculous 2-TD favorite over Big Green

What a joke.  Ohio State is favored by 2-TDs over the Spartans?  13 points.  LOL.  This is the same Ohio State team that struggled to beat Indiana by 7?

Rutgers is favored by 5 at Army
Maryland is favored by 3 home vs Indy
Minny is favored by 4-1/2 home over Illinois
Wisky is favored by 11 home over Nwestern.  ?????
scUM is favored by 5 at Penn State.  Whaaa????
Iowa is favored by 21 at home vs Purdon't

I need to find me a bookie to bet on MSU, NW, and Penn State.  That's gravy money.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bring on the Buckeyes! 5 Things We Learned From the Spartans' 24-7 Win over Maryland:

1.  We learned we moved up 5 spots to #9 in the AP Poll, and we still control our own destiny.  It's kind of a shock that we zoomed up as much as we did, but we needed the injection. Damn it feels good to be back where we belong.  Because we won and belong with the elite, ESPN Game Day is going to that crap town in Ohio to cover the Spartans for the THIRD TIME this year.  Wow - three times in one year?  We're 2-0 on Game Day this year, baby.  Bring on the Bucks.

2.  Tailgates are awesome.  We're playing the Turtles for Godssakes, let's concentrate on the party.  Kudos to my neighbors, Rick and Joe, who invited me and my new bud, Brock, to a killer tailgate by the Auditorium - great, spicy, sausages while we brought our travelers from the Peanut Barrel.  Sunny, warm, toasty, tasty, and spicy.   What a grand day for playing the sisters of the poor.

3.  We need Connor Cook to be healthy.  Sweet Jesus, we only gained 262 total yards against Maryland, and Tyler O'Connor was just 6-11 for 44 yards.  We need that prolific offense to be just that - prolific.  And, Cook is key.  It's only the third time in the past two years in the regular season we scored less than 30 points.

4.  "Break a bottle, clean up your own mess."  Just don't break a beer bottle in line to get into Spartan Stadium.  They ain't janitors.

5.  When Maryland comes to town, drink water.  Lots of it.  Helps with the beer.

I don't think I'm going to Ohio State game, despite the hype.  Buckeye fans are the WORST.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Enlightened Spartan Preview: Mich State vs the Turtles of Maryland

Sagarin Ratings:  MSU #22, Turtles #79

MSU: 8-1/4-1. Maryland:  2-7/0-5
Saturday, November 14, 2015. 12 pm ET.
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI.
Weather: 51 degrees, clear skies.  C-c-c-cold.  
Line:  MSU favored by 16, wind 9 mph West

The ES is with April Jones at the Peanut Barrel, still hungover from the bullshit screwjob loss to Nebraska. We preview the Maryland game and have some picks from the locals... including a walkup to the bar with Joe!

Sunday, November 08, 2015

5 Things we learned from MSU's loss to Nebraska

1. Michigan State continues to get screwed by the referees, and it was crystal clear in the 39-38 loss to the Corn. I am tired of MSU getting the fucking screw job from terrible, terrible officiating. I just don't understand how the refs could not only miss the call of the 30-yard TD to the Nebraska WR, only after being FOUR FEET out of bounds... but then the replay booth confirming a legal catch? The crew on the field and in the booth should see an optometrist and be suspended by the Big Ten, or better yet, be sent to the Canadian leagues.  The NCAA created this rule after the Carlisle Indian School beat Harvard in 1907 - and the refs can't get it right?

This guy is a blind bonehead
The guilty party this week? Referee: John O'Neill; Umpire: Robert Colosimo; Linesman: William Sutter; Line judge: Rick Kruger; Back judge: Matthew Edwards; Field judge: Darrel Leftwich; Side judge: Scott McElwee; Center judge: Jeff Maconaghy.

Commish Jim Delaney, are you watching this crap - what the hell is going on? MSU was jacked in the Michigan game, the refs blew several calls in the Indiana game, and the Nebraska phantom TD was nothing short of a botched, boneheaded mistake. Even the Nebraska coaches and fans couldn't believe it. I'd love to be a fly on the wall to listen to what Delaney hears, although he truly only gives a shit about Ohio State and Michigan. MSU has been playing shorthanded all year, having to beat both its opponents and the refs. So much for a level playing field. It's total bullshit.

 2. Connor Cook was simply crazy good in the second half. This guy is going to have a big-time NFL career. Cook was 23-37 for 335, 4 TDs and his usual boneheaded INT. But, Dear God, some of his throws were insane, crazy laser target passes. Cook started off a bit too-jacked up overthrowing receivers, but by the second quarter he looked all-world, The Spartans had several dropped passes, and Cook missed a wide open Kings early - those were missed opportunities. Yet, as the game wore on, Cook was definitely the best player on the field.

3. MSU's defensive secondary is awful. They stink. Demetrious Cox couldn't tackle my dead grandma if he tried - beyond that, he's just plain awful in coverage, if you want to actually call it "coverage." He's a step late and nearly always out of position. He's not alone. I can't remember this many missed arm tackles out of the Spartan secondary. This team is so far from the No Fly Zone it's in a different hemisphere - a better name for our secondary would be the "Sky Miles Program" for frequent travel through the air.

4. Bad coaching, What was Coach D's staff doing, acting like John L. Smith and outsmarting themselves with the TE-around on 3rd down late in the game? That was just stupid. They took a page right out of the Jesus Harbaugh's playbook and got too conservative with the three runs. Get a first down, game over, Connor Cook was playing lights-out; maybe do a play action and throw an easy pass or just roll out and run it instead of the stupid shit. Earlier in the game, 3rd 4th and 1 and he takes out a surprisingly effective Gerald Holmes (22 carries 117 yards) to put in a cold LJ Scott. No gain, punt. [OK, ES screwed this up in original write-up - this was several plays after the 43 yard run by Holmes, and if was 4th, not 3rd down... but, it doesn't matter... because the point is the same].  That was stupid, too. I didn't expect Coach D and staff to piss it away, but they did - just too many missed opportunities.

5 . Living on borrowed time. Let's be honest: this ending was bound to happen - the Spartans have been pushed by Purdue, Indiana, Oregon, Rutgers, and Michigan... hell, Big Green were even pushed by the U.S. Air Force Academy. So, it's not exactly a surprise... but losing via bad officiating sucks. But, this isn't a Chicken Little scenario: the sky hasn't fallen. MSU still controls its own destiny. Michigan State needed to beat Ohio State anyway, and the Spartans still need to beat the Buckeyes. That doesn't change. Winning out could lead the Spartans back into the title hunt if other teams above them falter. However, I doubt it - only Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Alabama are ever rewarded despite losing. Bottom line: There is no longer any room for error.

MSU is now #14.  They play Maryland next week, and should destroy the Turtles. Initial line looks like a 16-pt favorite.  
AP Top 25
1Clemson(31)9-01489 2vs #17 Florida State W 23-1311/14 @ Syracuse
2Ohio State(26)9-01460 1vs Minnesota W 28-1411/14 @ Illinois
3Alabama(2)8-11376 4vs #4 LSU W 30-1611/14 @ #20 Mississippi State
4Baylor(2)8-01351 2Kansas State W 31-2411/14 vs #12 Oklahoma
5Oklahoma State9-01256 7vs #5 TCU W 49-2911/14 @ Iowa State
6Notre Dame8-11219 2Pittsburgh W 42-3011/14 vs Wake Forest
7Stanford8-11144 2Colorado W 42-1011/14 vs Oregon
8Iowa9-01091 2Indiana W 35-2711/14 vs Minnesota
9LSU7-11050 5#7 Alabama L 30-1611/14 vs Arkansas
10Utah8-1900 3Washington W 34-2311/14 @ Arizona
11Florida8-1887vs Vanderbilt W 9-711/14 @ South Carolina
12Oklahoma8-1858 2vs Iowa State W 52-1611/14 @ #4 Baylor
13TCU8-1841 8#12 Oklahoma State L 49-2911/14 vs Kansas
14Michigan State8-1807 8Nebraska L 39-3811/14 vs Maryland
15Michigan7-2684 1vs Rutgers W 49-1611/14 @ Indiana
16Houston9-0561 2vs Cincinnati W 33-3011/14 vs #25 Memphis
17North Carolina8-1506 4vs Duke W 66-3111/14 vs Miami (FL)
18UCLA7-2403 4Oregon State W 41-011/14 vs Washington State
19Florida State7-2379 2#3 Clemson L 23-1311/14 vs NC State
20Mississippi State7-2357 4Missouri W 31-1311/14 vs #3 Alabama
21Temple8-1310 2SMU W 60-4011/14 @ South Florida
22Navy7-1218#15 Memphis W 45-2011/14 vs SMU
23Wisconsin8-2183Maryland W 31-24
24Northwestern7-2177vs Penn State W 23-2111/14 vs Purdue
25Memphis8-1137 10vs Navy L 45-2011/14 @ #16 Houston
Dropped from rankings: Ole Miss 19, Toledo 20, Texas A&M 25
Others receiving votes: USC 104, BYU 35, Ole Miss 22, Texas A&M 6, Boise State 6, Toledo 4, Washington State 2, Western Kentucky 2