Saturday, November 22, 2014

ES Game Day: Michigan State vs Rutgers

#10 Michigan State Spartans vs Rutgers
12 noon/BTN

Weather:  37 degrees and cloudy

Line:  MSU favored by 21

Senior day in East Lansing.  I see this as a game where the Big Green is going to blow Rutgers out of the water.  The MSU offense is the highest scoring in its history, and we still have two games to go.  This one will be a run away early.  Welcome to the B1G Ten, Rutgers...

Final score:  MSU 51, Rutgers 17.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Spartans in DC on Fri night: Head to Capitol Lounge for MSU-Loyola game

Hey, the ES is in Washington, DC, and will head on up to the Capitol Lounge (Capitol South stop on the blue/orange/silver metro lines) for tonight's 7 pm tipoff of our Big Green vs Loyola.  '

Come on and join the crowd!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Spartans favored to whip Rutgers by 21

After dispatching Maryland yesterday, the Big Green Machine moved up to #9/#10 in the polls, and enters its final two contests against the bottom-feeders of the Big Ten East: Rutgers and Penn State.

Michigan State is favored by a measly three TDs over New Jersey State University.  In all Big Ten games this weekend, here are where the bookies stand:

MSU (-21) vs Rutgers
Nebraska (-10) vs Minnesota
Ohio State (-31 1/2) vs Indiana
Michigan (-4) vs Maryland
Northwestern (-3) at Purdon't
Penn State (-6 1/2) at Illinois
Wisconsin (-9) at Iowa

And... Western Michigan is favored by 1 at Central Michigan.  The winner has the shot at the MAC Championship Game.

Here is the latest polling:

USA Today Poll
1Florida State (39)10-01518
2Alabama (17)9-11494
3Oregon (6)9-11434
4Mississippi State9-11296
7Ohio State9-11228
8Ole Miss8-21041
9Michigan State8-21030
11Kansas State7-2880
14Arizona State8-2721
16Georgia Tech9-2511
23Colorado State9-1259

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Today's Menu: Maryland Turtle Soup

#12 Michigan State Spartans (7-2, 4-1) at Maryland Terrapins (6-3, 3-2)
November 15, 2014.  8 pm ET.
Byrd Stadium, College Park, MD
Capacity: 51,802

Line:  Spartans by 12

Weather:  35, no wind.

Sagarin Ratings: MSU #12, Maryland #40

Predictions & Previews: 

Baltimore Sun: Zenitz, MSU 40-20; Stubs, MSU 35-24; Cavanagh, MSU 49-20
Det News: Charboneau, MSU 44-24, Changelis, MSU 31-10; Wojo, MSU 37-20; Niyo, MSU 31-21
LSJ:  Couch, MSU 38-20; Rexrode, MSU 38-20; Solari, MSU 41-10; Calloway, MSU 42-24
CFN/Scout: MSU, 37-17
Odd Shark:  MSU 38.9-26.1

ES sez:

This is kinda a yawner; mind you, Maryland will be fired up for this game, even though its best offensive threat is out for the season.  Ouch if you are a Terp.  The Big Green is coming to DC, and should put a pretty good pounding to the newbies on the block.  Watch for a few fake plays out of the Big Green - we're due for a fake kick... and plenty of reverses.  Statistically, this is a bad matchup:

Maryland Offense vs MSU Defense: Advantage MSU. 

Maryland Pass Offense 228.6 ypg (#69) vs MSU Pass Defense 196.9 ypg (#23) 
Maryland Rush Offense 125.9 ypg (#103) vs MSU Rush Defense 114.6 ypg (#13)  

MSU Offense vs Maryland Defense:  Advantage MSU.

MSU Rush Offense 246.3 ypg (#91) vs Maryland Rush Defense 193.4 ypg (#96)
MSU Pass Offense 271.2 ypg (#34) vs Maryland Pass Defense 238.3 ypg (#81)

Not much more to see or to say on this one.  Michigan State 42, Maryland 17.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

MSU drops to #12, favored by 12 at Maryland

Oh well,  Shit happens.

On the upside, Michigan State is favored by 12 at Maryland.  The Big Green moved down to #12 after their disappointing loss to Ohio State.

AP Top 25
1Mississippi State (48)9-01488
2Florida State (12)9-01446
7Arizona State8-11142
8Ohio State8-11086
10Ole Miss8-2948
12Michigan State7-2782
13Kansas State7-2742
15Notre Dame7-2630
23Colorado State9-1128
24Georgia Tech8-2127

Saturday, November 08, 2014

ES Game Day: Spartans to whip Buckeyes

#6/7/8 Michigan State Spartans vs. #11/13/14 Ohio State Buckeyes
November 8, 2014.  8 pm ET.
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI

Line:  Spartans by 3-1/2

Weather:  34 and c-c-c-cold.

Sagarin Ratings: MSU #11, Ohio St #15

Predictions & Previews: 

Land-Grant Holy Land (a very good read):  MSU 31-29
Eleven Warriors: MSU 27-25
ESPN: Bennett, MSU 31-28; Ward, OSU 24-23  MSU 
CFN/Scout: MSU 27-23
Freep/Rexrode:  MSU 34-24
Freep:  Sharp, MSU 24-20; Seidel, MSU 31-28
Det News/Wojo:  MSU 27-22
Columbus Dispatch: MSU 31-24 (breakdown here)
Tom Izzo:  MSU 27-20
Cleveland Plain Dealer:  Landis, OSU 24-21; Wasserman, MSU 26-21; Livingston, OSU 31-27
MLive: no score, but NICE breakdown (Alabama): MSU 38-27
Sports Illustrated:  MSU (unanimous)

ES sez:

Just like last year's Big Ten title game - MSU will score early and often... will falter a bit and allow the Buckeyes to come back.  But far too much firepower from the Spartans this year.  Bottom line: Ohio State has had a very weak schedule to date, both teams have great interior lines... but the Spartans have been more consistent and better along the line and among the playmakers. Ohio State QB JT Barrett ain't seen nothing yet - the Spartan defense will eat him alive tomorrow.  It will be fun!

MSU 34, Ohio State 24.  

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Q&A with Buckeye Battle Cry on Michigan State vs Ohio State "rivalry"

Thanks go out to the Buckeye Battle Cry, for which they've again reached out to the ES for some shared commentary.  This time, we chime in on each others' Q&A with respect to the de facto Big Ten Championship game, MSU vs OSU, this weekend in East Lansing.   AND, be sure to check out the ES' response to BBC.

ES questions, and BBC responses below:

ES: 1.  What is the secret to the Ohio State defense this year?

BBC: The easy answer here is obviously the addition of Chris Ash but I think it goes a lot deeper. When you look in depth on a weekly basis there are still major problems with the OSU secondary. Too many time there are guys running free in the zone and has led to some long scores, particularly in the Cincinnati game.

Ash has played more press coverage than last year (let's be honest, I don't think they ever played it last year) and that's helped a bit. A big thing this year is the emergence of Joey Bosa and Michael Bennett. Teams are doubling Bennett on the inside and with Bosa lining up all over the line at any time, usually leaves him one on one.

It's hard to believe the linebackers would be better after losing Ryan Shazier but as a group they just may be. Joshua Perry has been a tacking machine, racking up 18 against PSU, Curtis Grant played the best game of his senior year last week against Illinois and true freshman Raekwon McMillan had been a complete beast on the field.

Another big reason to the success of the defense is the offense. With the offense getting off to fast starts and putting teams down 2 or 3 touchdowns early, it puts the defense in pure pass defense mode and that D line can pin their ears back and go get the quarterback.

Don't get me wrong, teams still hurt this defense with screens, bubble screens , and other quick passes. The tackling on this defense has been the best of any defense since Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus. 

ES 2.  Last year the Spartan offense lit up the Buckeye defense like a Christmas tree.  And the Spartan offense is more prolific this year.  Not that A+B=C, but A+B=C, so what grand scheme will Urban Meyer create to slow down the Spartan juggernaut?

BBC: No doubt the MSU offense is more prolific this year than last, but I don't think Urban needs to create any grand schemes, but one (see below) for Saturday. Frankly, OSU's defense in the 2nd half of 2013 was a mess, so MSU's 34 points was about average of what OSU gave up over the last 5 games of the season.

The difference this season is tremendously better line play and improved secondary play. Last year's play was softer corners, which unfortunately allowed receivers initial separation and increased potential for yards after catch. That happened way too often. As far as a Grand Scheme goes, I imagine he'll have the OSU secondary pay very close attention to Tony Lippett, who is an absolute ball-magnet for Cook. There isn't much else in the MSU receiving corps that appears to be much of a threat, so if Lippett's production can be tamped down, the juggernaut will be slowed down.

ES 3.  As a representative of the Ohio State faithful, what beer will you be drinking at the tailgate this Saturday and why?

BBC: If I were a big beer drinker, it'd be Honey Brown or something from Great Lakes Brewing Company. But alas, I'm not, so I'll be drinking my usual water.  Although, we hear great things about the Land Grant Brewing Company in Columbus as well...

ES 4.  J.T. Barrett 2014 = Connor Cook 2013.  Yay or nay, what say you?

BBC: "Yay", in that Cook's job last year was to manage the offense, put the ball in the hands of the playmakers, and not make mistakes.

"Nay" in that JT has had less time in the Ohio State offense than Cook did last year.

"YAY!" in the hopes that JT will make the same strides between his first season and his second that Connor did between last year and this. Of course, that will be in two years... after Braxton comes back in 2015.

ES 5.  What is more worrisome? An Ohio State offense not playing a defense giving up less than 30 points per game and less than 300 yards per game....  Or, an Ohio State defense not playing an offense scoring an average of more than 30 points a game and averaging more than 450 yards of offense? Why?

BBC: Hmmmmmm.... I think if you asked OSU fans they'd say that they felt better about the defense this year than the offense at this point in the season, believe it or not. When things bogged down in Happy Valley, it was the defense that managed field position and controlled the tempo.

That being said, we'd be fine if both of those aspects of the Buckeyes showed up on Saturday- they're going to need offense, defense, AND special teams to come out of East Lansing with a win.

ES 6. Urban Meyer is to the Big Ten as Nick Saban is to the SEC. Mark Dantonio is to the Big Ten as Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is to the SEC.   What is Buckeye Battle Cry's own college sport comparison of this battle?

BBC: Interesting question and not one I had thought about a lot before.  I'm a big women's basketball fan so the comparison that jumps out to me is that this game is like a Big Ten version of the 1996 UConn-Tennessee game.  At that time Tennessee was a dominant powerhouse in women's basketball, much like OSU has been in the Big Ten for a while in football.  UConn was a program on the rise and gaining national respect but hadn't made it to the point where they were considered one of the elite yet, like MSU football recently.  In 1995 the two teams had met in the national championship with UConn winning, propelling UConn much more into the national spotlight, much like MSU's win over OSU in the Big Ten title game and then their subsequent Rose Bowl win. The 1996 matchup between UConn and Tennessee was a big one to see in the previous year had been a fluke or if UConn was real and here to stay as a national contender every year.

I think in many ways this is how this week's game shapes up.  An MSU win pretty much shows the world that yes, the Spartans are now at the top of the Big Ten and will be one of the dominant forces in the conference for a long time while an OSU win will be seen by a lot of the country as the traditional power just returning to form.  While clearly I hope that the result of this game is different than in my analogy, where UConn won, I would be very happy to see something similar happen to the long term impact of that game with OSU and MSU being the dominant teams in the country building up an intense rivalry due to facing each other in nationally meaningful games.Description:

ES 7.  Describe this photo of Urban from B1G Championship Game:

BBC: "They're serving Papa John's after the game?? Dammit, why didn't we run Carlos Hyde one more time?"

ES 8.  Tell us something about the Ohio State rifle program.

BBC: The Buckeyes are members of the Patriot Rifle Conference (not sure if NRA membership required) a 6-team conference comprising of; Air Force, Alaska-Fairbanks, Nevada, Ohio State, TCU and UTEP. 

This is a co-ed team comprised of 7 men and 5 women, that is currently ranked 10th in the country.

One team member with the most sport-appropriate name is junior Remington Lyman. For big matches, the team does fire Silver Bullets.

ES 9.  No, really, what makes the Ohio State offense tick?

BBC: What makes the Buckeye offense tick? The same thing that makes all offenses tick and has since the dawn of the sport: The running game. It's what opens everything up, softens defenses, pulls up safeties, on and on. When the Buckeyes get it going on the ground it increases the tempo and wears the opponent down. 

I wish I could tell you that there is mystery to Tom Herman's playcalling or some wizardry behind Urban Meyer and his spread. While there are certainly parts of it that are unique, ultimately it goes as the running game goes.
Of course, it doesn't hurt to have 4 and 5 star athletes in the backfield, either...Description:

BBC: Well, two of us are ushers at Ohio Stadium, so here goes:

Tradition requires stability, and if you're going to hold 30,000 more than Spartan Stadium, you need to think outside the box. Plus, these fashionable seats are out of the weather and have some of the nicest fans in the stadium as neighbors. And you're watching the game on twitter anyway, right?

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Michigan State a FG fave over Buckeyes

The Big Green Machine is a FG favorite at home over the dreaded #13 Ohio State Buckeyes.  The winner of the game is likely the East Division rep for the B1G title game, and the conference's only shot for a CFB Playoff bid.  The whole season has builded up to this... and the ES will chime in later this week with this thoughts.

In other B1G odds:

  • Penn State favored by 4 at Indy
  • Minny favored by 1 hosting Iowa
  • NW favored by 2 hosting scUM
  • Wisky favored by 15 at Purdon't

Bye week:  Illinois, Nebraska, Maryland, Rutgers

And, as expected with the loss of Ole Miss (that was a GREAT game, and a tough loss by the Rebels in the last minute), Michigan State rose a spot in the AP Poll to #7.

AP Top 25
1Mississippi State (45)8-01484
2Florida State (15)8-01452
7Michigan State7-11120
8Notre Dame7-11096
9Kansas State7-11049
11Arizona State7-1831
12Ole Miss7-2828
13Ohio State7-1780
24West Virginia6-3159