ES Game Day Preview: MSU 32, Illinois 20 The Enlightened Spartan: ES Game Day Preview: MSU 32, Illinois 20

Friday, October 09, 2009

ES Game Day Preview: MSU 32, Illinois 20

Michigan State (2-3/1-1, #47 Sagarin) at Illinois (1-3/0-2, #91 Sagarin)

Saturday, October 10, 2009. 12 Noon.
TV: Big Ten Network
Weather: 60 degrees, sunny.
Latest Line: Michigan State favored by 4.

Tickets available

Injuries: Michigan State - S Roderick Jenrette (foot), out; OL Joel Foreman (knee), probable; WR Mark Dell (shoulder), probable; QB Kirk Cousins (ankle), probable. Illinois - MLB Martez Wilson (neck), out; CB Miami Thomas (knee), out; DE Michael Hoomanawanui (ankle), probable; DT Corey Liuget (ankle), probable; S Garrett Edwards, (neck), probable.

Prediction: It will be interesting to see if MSU's defense can continue the momentum of last week, this time on the road at a struggling Illini. UI's season is on the line - and so is Zook's job. As such, he's canned all-world QB Juice Williams for junior redshirt Eddie McGee. This spells doom... but the Spartan defense has made opposing QB subs look like pro players in recent memory. The ES figures you will see both Mc Gee and Williams - but will the Spartan pass defense look solid with Fortener instead of Jenrette? Can they contain McGee and force some turnovers? As noted in one preview, "Illinois coaching staff expects McGee to connect on the short and medium routes that Juice struggled to hit. McGee also boasts more speed than Juice, so he'll try to run away from defenders rather than powering through them. One potential problem: McGee has a reputation for fumbling." Zook may be drawing for straws, trying to find an answer instead of having patience: Williams played against three great defenses in their losses to ranked teams: Missouri, Ohio State, and Penn State. Can MSU measure up? Actually putting in McGee might help Michigan State. It will be interesting to see.

The bigger problem is if Illinois' defense can stop MSU's offense. I'm not so worried about the Spartan offense, as it continues to chew up yards through the air with competent offense, great QB passing by Cousins and Nichol, and both QBs scrambling for positive yards when needed. MSU RBs had just 2.3 ypc last week, but it was the mix of pass and run that made for some efficient long drives. That spells doom for Illinois, which has a defense worse than Michigan State or Michigan - it's the worst in the conference.

Expect Illinois to play better than it has in previous weeks, but so will a surging Michigan State team.

Halftime: MSU 14, Illinois 10. Final Score: Michigan State 32, Illinois 20.

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