Monday, August 31, 2009

Spartan DBs lickings its chops at Montana State QBs

Last year, Montana State traveled to two FBS schools, was waxed by Kansas State (69-10) and kept tight at Minnesota before falling, 35-23.

In the Kansas State game, on Sept. 6, the Bobcats had just 191 total yards, committed 4 turnovers (2 INTs), and trailed 45-7 at the half. Passing from both Cody Kempt and Mark Iddins was a combined 17-35-2-108. It was a real butt-kicking.

Against Minnesota on Sept. 13, the Bobcats trailed just 21-13 at the half, and 35-16 after three quarters. They outgained the Gophers 356-352 total yards, with 218 through the air. Their big play of the game: a 100-yard kickoff return by Demetrius Crawford with 3:33 left in the first half which kept the game tight. Against Minny, Bobcat QBs were: 16-39-3-218. The Bobcats threw three INTs against Minny: that's a total of 5 INTs against both FBS opponents.

Crawford was their starting tailback (1,314 yards in '08) and he has graduated, by the way - so with their two starting replacements out for the Michigan State game, expect Montana State to be thin and very young at RB... and, thusly, throwing the ball all over the place. The QBs certainly statistically were unimpressive against FBS last year.

The Moral of the Story: the talented and deep Spartan secondary should be licking its chops on Saturday.

Note that Montana State's starting cornerback, Arnold Briggs, tore his ACL in fall camp and is out for the year.

Scouting Montana State: MSU Kickoff 2009

Five days until Michigan State serves up some skewered Bobcat on its menu. It's interesting to see three OL starters have "suffered from ailments" this fall: Rocco Cironi, Joel Nitchman and J'Michael Deane. This has opened the door to Brendan Moss to see some playing time. Watch the OL closely vs the Bobcats this week.

Scouting the Bobcats

According to the Bobcats sports info, their last practice of the fall was "sharp" on both sides of the ball. Four QBs combined to throw for 306 yards with two competing for the starting job: Mark Iddins completed 19 of his 24 passes for 148 yards, and Cody Kempt finished 8-for-15 for 100 yards. The offenses didn't commit a turnover, and four players on its defense were "able to generate an effective pass rush." Two of their starting running backs (Aaron Mason, Blayde Becksted) are out with injuries, leaving it to sophomore CJ Palmer and redshirt freshman Ricky Evans (65 yards on 8 carries in the scrimmage). If you want your fix on the Bobcats, with a likely preview from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, visit the Blue & Gold blog.

More on Michigan scandal. Video from Freep reporters

ES thoughts on the Michigan compliance violation allegations:
  1. You'll never find anything, 'cause RR will shred the documents
  2. If you did, nothing will happen because it's sanctimonious Michigan -- let us all bow
  3. If by some miracle the NCAA does levy a sanction, it will be a slap on the wrist, because it's "all mighty Michigan"
  4. The NCAA will use this as a reason to open a wider national investigation of strength & conditioning coaching and "volunteer" time, even though scholars and critics have been screaming about this issue for years, it pathetically takes it to happen to scUM for the NCAA to wakeup.
  5. Cheating is cheating. While many programs may or may not follow the rules to the same extent, if one breaks the rules, it should be held accountable.

Video from Freep reporters on their investigation:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Freep on Michigan football breaking NCAA rules

Interesting dialogue out of the Free Press on Michigan football breaking NCAA rules relating to amount of time spent on strength & conditioning in the off-season. We will see what becomes of this, but in all honesty, this part of college football has been one of the least enforced areas for years - and NCAA rules and enforcement has been lax at best. Still, while the ES is no fan of Michigan football, the question is: how much of this is with a strength coach around, and how much is "voluntary." We all know that the amount of "voluntary" time put in by football players is far in excess to anything reasonable at Michigan and everywhere else in major college footbal. How much more is Michigan beyond the norm?

Seemingly, scUM is WAY BEYOND the norm, if you read a response by ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, who asked several other players. What is amazing is if players actually signed documents not to tell the compliance director about exceeding NCAA conditioning regulations. If that's the case, the documents will turn up -- but why have them sign anything? That's about the dumbest thing I've ever heard, to put the proof of violations in writing. HAHAHAHAHAHA....

But... let's get to the real point. What IS interesting is the amount that current players are willing to talk about this. There is seemingly no love lost by several (or many) of the players and their families with Dick Rod, and this is yet another tale of the amount of issues bleeding out of Ann Arbor relating to a poor relationship between the head coach, players, and the community.

You would have never heard this under Bo or Lllloyd Carr. Simply fascinating the unhappiness.

Yes, folks, Michigan football seemingly is up the creek without a paddle - and in real trouble. This is their time of glory, and they can welcome a nice dish of scandal and deceit into their new $300 million palace next year.

The ES loves it. Hilarious, the ES is roaring in laughter.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

ES crawl on the Big Green and Big Ten

Around the horn....

ESPN Blogger Adam Rittenberg posts some welcome thoughts on how Dantonio has more quickly than expected, but according to plan, eliminated the SOS - Same Old Spartans - moniker...

Well, the Alamo Bowl will not renew its contract to host the Big Ten's #4 team in favor of hosting the Pac-10's #2 team beginning with next season. That may be a coup for the Pac 10 (up from the Holiday Bowl), but not that great of a loss for the Big Ten. Looks as if the Gator Bowl may be interested to replace the Alamo Bowl, pending discussions with the SEC.

How low can things go for Indiana football? Low enough that they're dissing a 2010 home football game vs Penn State in Bloomington for a $3 million pay day at Fed Ex Field in Washington DC. Home, shmome. It confirms that IU football is screwed for the foreseeable future.

The Bleacher Report chimes in with its Big Ten + ND preview, and predicts a 4th place finish and 10-2/6-2 record for the Big Green, as well as a 10-2 record for Notre Dame. But, with B/R predicting MSU to lose its 2 games in conference, in effect they're predicting the Big Green to upend the Irish in South Bend, as expected.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Spartans shakeup DB lineup, choose captains

If you tried the other URL,, you may have found a bandwidth issue - it is being restored, but if you bookmark this page (the original host), you will always find an ES home.

Of particular note is a shake up in the defensive backfield, where Jeremy Ware, Marcus Hyde, and Danny Fortener have solidified starting spots. The advancement of Ware and Hyde is a particular surprise and demonstrates the depth of our secondary, considering the ES figured on Ross Weaver and highly touted Trenton Robinson as starters. Still, expect lots of plying time out of those two, and add depth with Johnny Adams, Kendall Davis-Clark, and Ashton Henderson. The ES really was impressed at the hard-hitting ability of Hyde when he was inserted into situations last year; he is a solid tackler, and from his safety spot, he can provide great run support when asked.

2009 MSU Spartan Captains are Greg Jones, Blair White, Ross Weaver, and Kirk Cousins. ES wonders if the pick of Cousins will have any impact on the race for starting QB: either helping Cousins, or as a consolation prize for being a backup. It really shouldn't matter.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jeff Sagarin ranks MSU #44; Joe Paterno is a Dough Boy

Jeff Sagarin's rankings are out for 2009 college football preseason, with MSU ranking a measly 44th. After reviewing the Big Ten composite schedule, the ES was able to make some generalizations about schedule strength, and names Joe Pa as 2009's NCAA Dough Boy for scheduling four creampuffs in 2009. He and the Nittany Lions should be ashamed.

Montana State (#148)
CMU (#87)
@ Notre Dame (#48)
@ Wisconsin (#33)
Michigan (#35)
@ Illinois (#63)
N'western (#61)
Iowa (#27)
@ Minnesota (#69)
WMU (#88)
@ Purdue (#57)
Joe Pa (#8)

Illinois (#63)
Indiana (#95)
Iowa (#27)
Michigan (#35)
Mich State (#44)
Minnesota (#69)
N'western (#61)
Ohio State (#5)
Joe Pa (#8)
Purdue (#57)
Wisconsin (#33)

Lowest Sagarin Ranking of non-conference Big Ten opponents:

FCS/1-AA - Delaware State (#200) at Michigan
FBS/1-A - New Mexico State (#144) at Ohio State

Highest Sagarin Ranking of non-conference Big Ten opponents:

Southern Cal (#1) vs Ohio State
Oregon (#10) vs Purdue
California (#15) vs Minnesota
Missouri (#18) vs Illinois

Biggest Sagarin Mismatches (Joe Pa wins the 2009 Dough Boy Award)

Joe Pa (#8) vs Eastern Illinois (#177) - 169 rank difference
Michigan (#35) vs Delaware State (#200) - 165
Ohio State (#5) vs New Mexico State (#144) - 139
Joe Pa (#8) vs Temple (#125) - 117
N'western (#61) vs Towson (#174) - 113
Ohio State (#5) vs Toledo (#113) - 108
Michigan (#35) vs EMU (#141) - 106
Mich State (#44) vs Montana State (#148) - 104
Joe Pa (#8) vs Akron (#111) - 103
Illinois (#63) vs Illinois State (#158) - 95
Iowa (#27) vs Arkansas State (#119) - 92
Joe Pa (#8) vs Syracuse (#97) - 89
N'western (#61) vs EMU (#141) - 80

ESPN tools around Michigan State

ESPN Big Ten Blogger Adam Rittenberg was shuffling around the Skandalaris Center and the Duffy Daugherty football building yesterday, and managed to produce several blog postings about Michigan State. Not much earth shattering information out of it for us Spartan fans, but a nice article on Trevor Anderson. Anderson stuck around East Lansing this summer to train with his Spartan compadres instead of heading to Georgia for a camp called "Defensive Line, Inc." with former Atlanta Falcons player Chuck Smith. Rittenberg posts about the quarterback battle between Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol, and the delicate nature of handling the psyche of who will eventually be the backup. And, if you haven't had a chance, read the blog posting about MSU's fall camp by QB newbie Andrew Maxwell.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Enlightened Spartan 2009 Football Preview

The Sixth Annual Enlightened Spartan 2009 football preview is now available... including over 100 responses from the Spartan Nation on the upcoming season: how long until MSU reaches the promised land? which games are the most important for each Big Ten team? how will MSU end up, as well as every other Big Ten team?

What are the rule changes in NCAA football this year? Who will be MSU's MVP?

Download the PDF - learn about MSU, and enjoy!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Michigan State #29 in AP preseason poll

Michigan State received 100 points in the AP preseason poll released this morning, but it wasn't enough to crack the Top 25. MSU ended up ranked #29. Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Alabama were top five. Ohio State was #6, Joe Pa #9, Iowa #22, Notre Dame #23, and Illinois #27 (105 pts). Also receiving votes were CMU (7 pts) and Northwestern (5 pts).

Second scrimmage: The Cousins and Caper show

The LSJ has a brief writeup of yesterday's scrimmage, the second of the week, and the ES broke out the statistics below to make it easier to follow. Highlighting the performance on offense was improvement from Kirk Cousins, which just tightens the QB race back up with Keith Nichol. TE Dion Sims made big plays, and RB Larry Caper has seemingly taken the lead with a productive 4.9 yards per carry average yesterday. And, you gotta love it when our LBs are our leading two tacklers. Said the Doctor, "I thought the offense played and executed better... The quarterbacks threw the ball effectively, and the offense ran the ball better, especially in third-and-short situations... Defensively, the guys up front know what they're doing, so they play fast and there aren't many missed assignments. We're 16 practices into camp and the guys are playing at game speed." Statistics from Friday's scrimmage:


  • Cousins: 6-13-119. 1 TD, 1 INT.
  • Nichol: 7-14-54. 0 TD, 0 INT.

Running Backs:

  • Caper: 14-68. 1 TD (7 yards). 4.9 ypc.
  • Ray: 16-37. 2.3 ypc.
  • Baker: 14-32. 2.3 ypc.


  • White: 3-66.
  • Sims: 2-38. 1 TD.
  • Jones: 10 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack.
  • Gordon: 8 tackles.
  • Rucker: 1 INT, 1 TD.

Friday, August 21, 2009

QB/RB battle results, MSU #18 says NBC, ESPN gives cautious praise

Let's reflect on this past week's preparations by your Spartan gridders, with just 15 days left until we take on the Montana State Bobcats.

Obviously, the two main spots gaining all the attention are in the Spartan backfield - and a Monday scrimmage gives a better line on who may get the nod to start the season. It looks that Keith Nichol took the early lead in the QB race. Nichol completed 17-of-26 passes for 241 yards and three touchdowns,; his counterpart, Kirk Cousins, hit 13-of-30 throws for 127 yards, two TDs and one interception. Stats may not be anything, but there's a wide disparity between the two here. At RB, sophomore Ashton Leggett led all rushers with 91 yards on 10 carries, including a 63-yard TD run (sans the long run, Leggett was 9-28, or 3.1 average). AJ Jimmerson had 38 yards on 10 carries, and Caulton Ray had 15 carries for 29 yards. Freshman TE stud Dion Sims had seven catches for 60 yards, and wideout Keshawn Martin caught five passes for 85 yards and a TD. Chris Rucker (who dropped about everything thrown his way last year) had four catches for 90 yards. On defense, linebacker Adam Decker was a standout with eight tackles. Along the line, Tyler Hoover had six tackles (two for losses) and recovered a fumble.

Over at, they posted an update late Thursday in advance of a Friday scrimmage, with comments from Cousins, Nichol, Joel Nitchman, and DL Coach Ted Gill.


The Associated Press will release its preseason poll tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 22. Over at NBC Sports, they list Michigan State #18 ("Dantonio’s program has an opportunity to take the next step — maybe even a giant step"), thusly, lowering expectations of the annual Spartan dispatching of their beloved #22 Irish on national TV. has published its final preseason compilation of preseason rankings, and lists MSU at #32.

Over at ESPN, they've got a preseason prognostication of Michigan State's postseason plans, with Bruce Feldman pitting MSU vs Kansas State in the Insight Bowl, and Mark Schlabach listing MSU vs Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl... Adam Rittenberg slots MSU in the Outback Bowl. All three would be a step DOWN for the Spartans this year. Rittenberg is the most prolific blogger on the Big Ten over at ESPN, and he also lists MSU at #4 in his conference power rankings: "The more I look at the Spartans' depth chart, the more I like their chances this fall... if Michigan State solidifies its offensive backfield, look out." And, can you say "team"? Michigan State is picked by most to finish either #3 or #4 in the conference, including by Rittenberg, yet the Spartans have only two players on the Big Ten's First Team All Conference, which ranks them tied with scUM for next-to-last.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Michigan State Playing the Michigan MAC 2009-2020

Michigan State has added to its future schedules of non-conference opponents with a "Celebrate the State" series against Michigan Division FBS Mid-American Conference opponents. MSU will play CMU, EMU, and WMU each four times from 2011-2020, three times in Spartan Stadium and once on the road.

MSU vs CMU: 2011, 2015, 2018 in East Lansing. 2012 in Mt. Pleasant.
MSU vs EMU: 2012, 2014, 2016 in East Lansing. 2018 or 2020 in Ypsilanti.
MSU vs WMU: 2013, 2017, 2019 in East Lansing. 2015 in Kalamazoo.

Love the press release - MSU last played in Ypsi vs EMU (Michigan State Normal College) in 1899 and in Kalamazoo vs Kalamazoo College in 1915.

The ES isn't fond of playing non-BCS teams, but at least we can keep the money in the state, and at least it is in Division 1-A/FBS. Scheduling the Michigan MAC also significantly reduces travel costs for the Spartan athletic budget (expect to see more of this in-state scheduling around the country as budgets continuously tighten). So, for three times in the next decade, MSU is willing to forgo the $3 million per game revenue of scheduling a home football game to instead play on the road vs the Michigan MAC (MSU would make another $75,000 or more per game from added attendance if it scheduled another BCS team at home - easier said than done). Indeed, it IS better to schedule the Michigan MAC instead of playing home games out of the FBS Division. But, it also demonstrates that the Spartans are willing to work with the scheduling gods... and, if so, the ES again beats the dead horse and sez again, let's play a Round Robin in the Big Ten.

It is nice to spread the wealth... but it would be an interesting sight to see Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mt. Pleasant half filled with Green and White (and the ES) in 2012.

MSU Non-Conference Opponents 2009-2020:

2009: MONTANA ST., CMU, @ Notre Dame, WMU
2010: WMU, @ Florida Atlantic, NOTRE DAME, NO. COLORADO
2013: WMU, @ Notre Dame
2014: EMU, @ West Virginia
2016: EMU, @ Alabama, NOTRE DAME
2017: WMU, ALABAMA, @ Notre Dame
2019: WMU, @ Notre Dame
2020: @ EMU

What do you think? Would you rather travel to Ypsilanti or Mt. Pleasant than see MSU play Northern Colorado or Youngstown State in East Lansing? Comment below...

MSU to retain "Kicker U" crown in 2009

A bit of a closer look at the Spartan special teams shows why MSU this year will likely retain its crown as "Kicker U." Add in the strength of MSU's kick and punt coverage and you can see why MSU gets an "A" for its special teams entering 2009:

Brett Swenson hit several crucial field goals last year, including the game winner vs Wisconsin and crucial kicks in wins over Iowa and Notre Dame. He was 22-of-28 (79%), although just 1-of-3 beyond 50; and, three of his misses were immaterial in the dominating performance over Michigan. Still, his 6-of-7 beyond 40 was impressive. He's a first-team All Big Ten performer. Similarly, Aaron Bates is an all-conference punter, and should improve on his already good 42.0 average and 22-of-71 punts inside the 20 of a year ago. While JoePa may have "Linebacker U", Michigan State has "Kicker U" -- and Swenson and Bates continue Michigan State's tradition as the best school for kickers in college football history. MSU's return game took a year off and was average in 2008... but should be improved with the return of Glenn Winston to the roster, who was the Spartans' shining returner on kicks with a 23 yard return average.

MSU has been very strong in its kick and punt return coverage under Dantonio, allowing only one score on 177 punt and kick returns (a measly 0.5%) the past two years -- on a short punt return (38 yards) at that. MSU coverage allowed just 21.1 yards per kick return in 2007, and 21.4 yards per return in 2008.... for punt returns, MSU allowed 7.9 average in 2007, and 9.7 last year. While MSU can improve on its 34 punt net average, not giving up scores or long returns demonstrates the solid coaching in this area.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

FCS/1-AA looks to E. Kentucky as best shot to upend Big Ten in 2009

OK, for all the sinners out there scheduling out of the Division (including our Spartans), let's see which FCS teams are perceived as any good by their peers, and if they have a shot vs Big Ten foes this fall. The FCS Now Preseason Poll was recently released (#RV represents FCS teams "also receiving votes"). ES used USA Today for FBS rankings.

RED ALERT. If there's a chance, here is where your upset specials lie - Big Ten wannabes vs. ranked FCS teams.
Indiana vs. #RV Eastern Kentucky. (9/3). Game Preview.
#45 Wisconsin vs. #11 Wofford. (9/19).
#58 Minnesota vs. #14 South Dakota State. (11/14).

YELLOW ALERT. If FCS teams are ranked, they are at least competitive in their own league... though likely not vs ranked Big Ten foes. These games may be closer than expected (key term: "may").
#21 Iowa vs. #4 Northern Iowa. (9/5).
#27 Michigan State vs. #25 Montana State. (9/5).

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. Not a chance in hell for these poor saps.
#46 Northwestern vs. Towson (9/5). Towson was 3-9 last year.
#35 Illinois vs. Illinois St. (9/12). ISU was 3-8 last year.
#8 Penn State vs. Eastern Illinois (10/10). EIU was 5-7 last year.
#58 Michigan vs. Delaware St. (10/17). DSU was 5-6 last year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

MSU 'backers gonna kick some butt in '09. Says who? Says EVERYONE.

Here is a fun article in the Grand Rapids Press on the stud-worthiness and depth of Spartan linebackers. Makes you want to take on Joe Pa and Linebacker U tomorrow.

You need to read more about Spartan linebackers: ESPN's Adam Rittenberg here and here ("Position Superlatives"), The Freep's Shannon Shelton talks about the Big Green 'backers going five deep as a starting rotation, Brian Hamilton at the Chicago Tribune is all a-tizzy about Greg Jones, Armchair GM sez the Spartans will ride their linebackers to a New Year's Day bowl, Spartan and Friends ranks MSU #23 and calls Jones "an absolute stud."

You reading this Big Ten slobber-knockers? You coming to East Lansing or defending your turf, you better wear your hardhats... the Big Green is gonna cause some PAIN in '09.

Punt and kick returners remain "up in the air"

A status report from the Lansing State Journal provided a few wrinkles to the projected starting lineup, particularly at punt and kick returner. The LSJ notes that Keshawn Martin and Mark Dell are the top two candidates at punt returner.... which is good, you need good hands at that position due to potentially being smacked down on a hanging punt and missed blocks, and Martin, Dell, and Blair White are the only players who could catch anything last year. At kick returner, Larry Caper, Ed Baker, AJ Jimmerson, Trenton Robinson and Glenn Winston, are all getting a look. Don't be surprised to see the senior, Jimmerson, back there to start the year as a reward for his years of service... but eventually, for Winston to take over by the ND game after the coaching staff feels he has enough practice and is ready to go.

Also, at LB, the coaches love Chris Norman to add depth to the linebacker position -- and has a bright future for the Green and White. But, the LSJ also reports that sophomore Drew Stevens and redshirt freshman Steve Gardiner are also getting a good look.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dion Sims impresses Big Ten Network, Dantonio

One big positive out of the Big Ten Network is the ability to catch a glimpse of practice sessions, and today was Exhibit A as the BTN took a glimpse at Michigan State under 90-degree weather. It was a sweat box.

From some of what the ES saw, on offense pass protection seemed pretty good, but the Spartan defense -- particularly the 'backers -- were able to tee off on the running game, plugging the holes effectively. There was a particularly nice roll out right by QB Keith Nichol as he dodged out of the pocket, and threw across his body with great strength and accuracy, and hit a streaking receiver across the middle.

The Doctor was interviewed... and what was telling were the particular names he mentioned. He singled out Brandon Denson for his work ethic and the whole LB corps as a strength. He mentioned he expected to have a 3-RB rotation of 100+ carries by each this fall. As for the new recruits, two seemed to stick out: Chris Norman and Dion Sims who are "getting a lot of reps."

The BTN crew chimed in with their thoughts, and agreed there seemingly was no difference between Nichol or Kirk Cousins at QB. BTN commentator Howard Griffith was very impressed with Spartan receivers, and noted the teams' potential "to put a lot of points on the board." Both Griffith and Gerry DiNardo were impressed by the pair of true frosh RBs, Ed Baker and Larry Caper... although DiNardo feels Baker has the edge. The pair "looked good catching the ball and picking up blitzes." Hopefully, they can run well, too...

Finally, when asked about "under the radar" players, DiNardo mentioned Lansing native Micajah Reynolds as an OL that may be able to get some quality playing time. Griffith and Dave Revsine both drooled over Dion Sims at TE that he "was special."

Spartans - Bobcats not listed; MSU 75-1 for BCS

The bookies in Vegas have opened up their lines for the debut of the 2009 college football season; alas, MSU isn't listed because we are playing out of the division. According to the Vegas Hilton, Ohio State is a 21.5 pt favorite over Navy, Michigan 12.5 over WMU, Joe Pa by 28 over Akron, Notre Dame by 14 over Nevada, Illinois by 7 over Mizzou, Minny by 6.5 at Syracuse, Wisky by 17 over Northern Illinois, Purdue by 13.5 over Toledo.

By the way, MSU is 75-1 to win the BCS title; Ohio State 12-1, Notre Dame and Joe Pa 30-1, scUM 150-1.

Subway Domer on MSU - Irish: Viva Weis!

The ES thanks the Subway Domer for chiming in about the Notre Dame - Michigan State matchup, dominated by the Spartans in the last decade. Domer predicts a 24-17 Irish win in a defensive battle... he's an avid Chuck E Weis supporter... read on:

1. Why in the hell (sorry) are we to believe that the Catholics will be any good on the gridiron this fall, when their performance on the field has tarnished that once shiny, golden dome?

You're not supposed to believe it. But, that's OK. This 2009 season is the "tell all". If I was an opposing fan, I would reserve judgement until after the U$C game.

2. Why is everyone making a big deal out of the Irish beating the hula skirts off of the vicious Rainbows in the Hawaii bowl last year? What does that say about the current status of ND football?

No one is really going apeshit over the win against Hawai'i. ND finally broke their bowl losing streak, and that has fans thinking the curse is finally over. What was really encouragging was the play of Clausen in that game. His 4 incompletions were all drops. He threw everything on the money.

The current status? Well- ND is just trying to get back to becoming a top tier program again- and for a longer stretch.

3. OK, we all know about that hairdo of QB Jimmy “Scissorhands” Clausen. But seriously, he’s been beaten to a pulp the past two years and wants more punishment. What makes him so damn resilient – is All America realistic this year or next, or is the emergency room more realistic?

With the nation jerking off to Tebow, McCoy, Bradford, and even Snead- Clausen as an All-American candidate is a bit of a stretch. However. His stats this upcoming year should be as good, if not better than Quinn's were in his junior year.

Jimmy is not human. OK, so maybe he's human- but he is one tough SOB. He has took more than his fair share of clean shots to every part of his body and keeps going. Tough kid.

4. How many wins will it take for the Doughnut King to keep his job as the Irish head coach?

I'll say 9 wins plus a bowl win at the least. However, if the 3 losses are as embarrassing as having John L. Smith as a head coach, than he may be on his way out.

5. OK: Charlie Weis: 29-21 (9-3, 10-3, 3-9, 7-6) in 4 years with highly touted recruiting classes. Ty Willingham 21-15 (10-3, 5-7, 6-5) in 3 years. Bob Davie: 35-25 (7-6, 9-3, 5-7, 9-3, 5-6) in 5 years. Notice any consistency in W-L? So, if he wins 6 games or less, he will be fired. Right? What does the Irish nation think about the decisions on football coaching? Isn’t it great Weis has a 10-year deal (8 years or whatever is remaining)?

Both Ty and Davie had problems recruiting for the long haul. This is what eventually put them out on their ass, and what put Weis in trouble these past 2 years. The roster is now more talented and deeper than it has been since the Holtz era, and there is no crazy ass drop in that talent level as you move on two years from now. That is the real difference.

I like the fact that Weis has such a long contract. This program needs stability and if things go according to plan this year, there is no reason that they shouldn't stay there for years to come.

6. How good will ND be in the trenches this year, on both sides of the ball? Are we back to the days of the big uglies from the Irish, smash mouth-style, or will we kick yer arse again where it really matters?

I'm not sure. ND made some changes on the O-line this year with new coaching and moving a few players around. I want to say they will be a lot tougher, but i will have to reserve judgement until after week 3- which is the MSU game.

The D-line is very talented- but young. If they can play above their age, this unit has the talent to make all the difference.

7. Who is your best lineman, and why should we fear him?

You didn't specify which side, so I'll give you one from each.

Sam Young OT- Sam has not reached his potential since he arrived at ND in the fall of 2006 as the #1 lineman out of high school. He has started every game since his freshman year, and if there truly is a god- Sam Young will dominate.

Ethan Johnson DT/DE- Johnson is a fucking nightmare. He will only be a true sophomore, but he was virtually our best DL last year as a frosh. He is able to be moved inside and out and has added more weight and strength to his large frame. Tru Killah.

8. Michigan State has owned ND the last decade (won 9 of 12 – actually, MSU has dominated the series during the entire post-Holtz tenure of Weis/Willingham/Davie). But, MSU has really had the far better team the past two years, and likely this year as well. Or do you think otherwise? Where is the advantage for ND or MSU?

MSU lost Hoyer and Ringer. You could have managed without Hoyer- but Ringer is a big loss. I agree with your assesment of the last two seasons, but I think ND has the better overall team in 2009. ND will have a far better offense than MSu, and both teams should have tough defenses. If there is any advantage- its MSU's dominance in South Bend... sigh.

9. Who is your best player and why?

Michael Floyd. Why? He is probably our best pro prospect on a young team that could develop a lot of prospects. He' just so fucking dominant- that's why.

10. Other than Michigan, ND is our biggest game on the schedule every year – some (like ES west coast reporter, Chock) hate the Irish the most. It’s a fairly unfriendly rivalry – from the Spartan fans point of view. Do you see it similarly? Why do you think the Spartans are so antagonistic to ND?

I hate Sparty. You hate us. All is well with the world. U$C and Michigan are much bigger rivals overall for the program- but in a recent Subway Domer survey, MSU came in 3rd. I think you hate us because of this. There are you 3 and then everybody else as far as I am concerned. I hate years like this when ND plays you 3 in the first 5 games.

11. Breaking out the Xs and Os, what is the biggest mismatch you seek to take advantage of?

Your new QB. Jon Tenuta is jerking off to the fact that you have a new QB- and he wants to bury him. With our developing blitz package, I think that may be an advatage as of August. Still a few games to be played before I will really know what kind of teams the 2009 ND and MSU squads really are all about.

12. I know this guy in California, Bernie. He loves ND, never went to college, never set foot in the state of Indiana. He has the Poulus jersey for crissakes. What message would you like me to pass onto that piece-of-crap?

Keep the faith brother ( and read Subway Domer). Things will be looking a lot better this year- but you already know that. It's these bastards that will figure it out the hard way.

13. What is the biggest mismatch you fear MSU will exploit?

Unrelanting pressure with a blitzing pass rush IF ND cannot get some kind of running game going. i really like Greg Jones. Tough, tough football player, and a Subway Domer All-American.

14. Matter of fact, Chock (mentioned above) had a choice to spend the weekend in Paris or East Lansing last fall – and chose attendance in EL to watch the Spartans spank the Catholics, 23-7. What message would you like me to pass onto that glorious Spartan football fan?

I like his choice of football over culture. Fuck those Frenchies. Other than that- we'll see ya in September. Heading to South bend?

15. Here is a look at the opponents for the 2009 ND Fighting Irish – clearly, the weakest schedule for the Irish in years. If you consider The Quad’s ( rankings of all 120 teams (why not choose them, they’re as good as any other), then only 2 teams on their schedule are ranked in the top 40 (top third): Southern Cal, and Michigan State. Obviously, both USC and MSU matchups will be losses for the Irish. So, what is your take on the W’s and the L’s – realistically, and best scenario? Opponent (The Quad Ranking, so far): Nevada (#48), @ scUM (#57), Michigan St (#31), @ Purdue (#94), Washington (#99), USC (not yet ranked), Boston Coll (#60), @ Washington St (#114), Navy (#64), @ Pitt (#42), Uconn (#68), @ Stanford (#50)

I could care less about The Quad rankings. There is one true god and his name is Phil Steele. The schedule is favorable, but at least we don't play any MAC, Sunbelt, or 1-AA schools. If ND goes 5-0 headed into the U$C game, they have a good shot of beating the Condoms and finishing 12-0. Realistically I see a 11-1 or a 10-2 season. The exact losses I'm not sure of yet.

16. Who would you rather have as coach - The Doctor (MD) or Doughnut Head (CW)? Why?

16. I have always like Dantonio. I knew that was a great hire for MSU when they finally let go of that crazy asshole J.L. Smith. With that said... I'm going with chuck. What the hell have you reaslly done in the past two years besides beat a down on their luck Irish team. This is loyalty at its finest.

17. What will be the final score this year, MSU at ND?

17. It will be a very defense-heavy 24-17 win for the Irish. I'm not sold on your seconday, but I know your run D will be very good. The team with the best QB wins this one.

MSU Athletics confirms Northern Colorado in 2010, Youngstown State in 2011 - Schedule Big Ten despite not sanctioned status

As noted by the ES earlier in the week, MSU does play Youngstown State in 2011, and Northern Colorado in 2010... MSU Football has released schedules for 2010 and 2011... watering down the schedule is truly unfortunate and does little to benefit MSU other than a "guaranteed win" (exception: Appalachian State) - it reduces BCS rankings, it brings in less income. In 2010, Ohio State and Indiana are off the Spartans' schedule; in 2011, Iowa and Northwestern are off the schedule.

Here's an idea: MSU plays Northern Colorado on Sept 25, 2010; Ohio State plays Eastern Michigan the same day. Why can't MSU and Ohio State play each other, despite it not being on the Big Ten docket? And, on Sept 3, 2011, MSU plays Youngstown State; Iowa plays Pittsburgh the same day. Why can't Iowa play MSU on Sept. 3, 2011? Obviously, the scheduling dates are open for these teams, and the schedule would be improved for all Big Ten teams if they played each other as a "nonconference" game. Why not?


9/11 @ Florida Atlantic
10/9 @ Michigan
10/23 @ Northwestern
10/30 @ Iowa
11/13 PURDUE
11/20 @ Penn St


10/1 at Ohio St.
10/15 PURDUE
11/5 at Illinois
11/12 at Wisconsin
11/26 PENN ST

Spartan Media Day Notes - ES Nuggets

The Big Green is underway for fall camp; lots of song and dance, as is typical early. Good news, knock on wood - everyone is healthy, and there is good depth across the offense and defense. A few nuggets the ES found of interest.

Dantonio on RBs, QBs: "The next two weeks, three weeks will tell the difference, tell the story there. But if not, I'm okay with that. I don't think the quarterback situation is a problem. I think our quarterback situation is as strong as it's been since I've been here. We lack game experience, and that's a big deal. "

More from MD on RBs by committee: "But somebody has to come to the forefront there. Somebody has to emerge, and really when you look at it, it's going to be an opportunity probably for two guys to get 150-to-200 carries each or for three guys to get 100 carries each, but whatever the situation dictates, that will play itself out."

From offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, expect more balance: "one of the things we hope to utilize is more balance because we have more veteran players in the bigger picture overall. So we don't have to look at the running back position to carry the load per say. With returning veterans at receiver and tight end, that should do well for us."

This summer, Brett Swenson trained with the best kicker in football history (college and pro), Morten Andersen. He stated "my flexibility is much better and think I'm more efficient in getting to the ball."

Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi on LB Greg Jones: "as good as a linebacker as I have coached in 20 years. He has everything. He has a nose for the ball which is probably the most important thing and he has great instincts."

D-line coach Ted Gill on Jerel Worthy: "We spotted Jerel a couple years ago in camp. He has a lot of athletic ability. He can dunk a basketball, and he can change direction very well."

D-lineman Oren Wilson: "I feel like we are underrated. I mean we have a lot to work on, and a lot to prove. We have a lot of depth at every position."

Andrew Hawken has switched to FB from linebacker.


Meet the Spartans is schedule for Aug 18 - all you kids can head on out to Tuesday, Aug. 18 from 5:45-7:15 p.m. at Meridian Mall in Okemos, Mich.

ES Previews Spartans on Blog Ten Football

The ES chimes in with his idiotic prose about the Spartans on Blog Ten Football. Read, read if you must.

Fall Camp Begins; MSU vs Florida Atlantic... in Chicago?

Michigan State opened its 2009 football camp on Sunday with the players reporting for academic and compliance meetings, as well as physical exams. Practice starts with running tests and a full practice tomorrow morning. The Spartans will practice in full pads for the first time on Friday, Aug. 14.

The ES doesn't need to reinvent the wheel. Want to learn about our offense (7 starters, 18 letters return): read here. Our defense (8 starters, 24 letters return): read here.

An interesting scenario out of Florida relating to next year's MSU vs Florida Atlantic game. FAU is constructing a new stadium that won't be ready until 2011, and owes MSU $150,000 from last year's meeting. According the Palm Beach Post, FAU is considering hosting Michigan State at an NFL stadium as its home site -- and playing at Ford Field in Detroit or Soldier Field in Chicago may bring a hefty Spartan fan base, but as a home game FAU would raise up to $2 million. According to the article, FAU believes they could sell 50,000 tickets in Detroit or Chicago. Their new stadium? $63 million and 30,000 seats as part of an "Innovation Village project that also includes housing, recreation facilities and retail shops."

Funny, I guess if they host the game down in Florida, they wouldn't draw anywhere near as large of a crowd as if they came up to Spartan country to take our dollars up here. This is a bonus for MSU if it works out... we have to play them away as it is, so why not play them just down the road -- it would be a home crowd. And, if in Detroit, it could conceivably save MSU tens of thousands of dollars in travel costs for the team, not to mention less time away from school.

MSU to play Akron, Youngstown State, Northern Colorado? Why not play Michigan Tech?

The ES was tooling through the web and found which showed schedules in the next few years against Akron and Northern Colorado in 2010, and Youngstown State in 2011.... Akron in 2010 also showed up here. This scheduling was a surprise, and a disappointment if MSU continues to "schedule down."

But, there is NOTHING official out of Michigan State, and only the Youngstown State game is confirmed by their own publication on their website (see bottom of last page of PDF).

The ES previously stated his unhappiness of scheduling out of the division (FCS, aka 1-AA), largely due to lack of competitiveness and potential to lower BCS rankings; and, noted that MSU had earned an average of $73,000 less per game over the past decade scheduling non-BCS teams, let alone out of the division, as compared to 1-A opponents. Sigh, is anyone listening? Is Michigan Tech next?

Friday, August 14, 2009

MSU #27 in preseason USA Today Poll

The inaugural USA Today Poll is released, and MSU is on the outside, looking in, at #27. Florida is #1 (shocker), Ohio St #6, Joe Pa #8, Iowa #21. The Top 9 is a yawner. What is interesting is the non-BCS teams: Boise St, TCU, Utah, BYU... all in at #16 and below. Newcomers: Ole Miss #10, Okla St #12, UNC #20, and Oregon State #25 are up and coming programs that have about 40 years of average-to-bad football (like Michigan State) preceding them.

Welcome back Nebraska, #22. Look forward to ruining your party on Sept. 19, #23 Notre Dame.

USA Today (August 7, 2009)

1. Florida (53) 0-0 1,466
2. Texas (4) 0-0 1,386
3. Oklahoma (1) 0-0 1,358
4. USC (1) 0-0 1,321
5. Alabama 0-0 1,134
6. Ohio State 0-0 1,126
7. Virginia Tech 0-0 1,020
8. Penn State 0-0 988
9. LSU 0-0 917
10. Mississippi 0-0 889
11. Oklahoma State 0-0 861
12. California 0-0 711
13. Georgia 0-0 707
14. Oregon 0-0 694
15. Georgia Tech 0-0 559
16. Boise State 0-0 542
17. TCU 0-0 461
18. Utah 0-0 404
19. Florida State 0-0 371
20. North Carolina 0-0 293
21. Iowa 0-0 257
22. Nebraska 0-0 236
23. Notre Dame 0-0 194
24. Brigham Young 0-0 178
25. Oregon State 0-0 165
Others Receiving Votes
Kansas 138, Michigan State 136, Texas Tech 114, Cincinnati 90, Pittsburgh 64, West Virginia 55, Rutgers 51, Miami (FL) 46, Missouri 44, Illinois 38, Clemson 30, South Carolina 18, UCLA 14, Auburn 12, South Florida 11, Nevada 11, Kentucky 9, North Carolina State 7, Wisconsin 6, Arkansas 6, Northwestern 5, Southern Miss 4, Wake Forest 4, Arizona 3, Boston College 3, CENTRL MICHIGAN 3, East Carolina 3, Colorado 2, Maryland 2, Navy 2, Tennessee 2, TROY 1, Minnesota 1, Michigan 1, Houston 1.

Preview: Central Michigan Chippewas (Sept. 12). It's Lefevour Dammit!

(7 Aug 2009)--The ES has his master's degree from on up the road, at Central Michigan University. Fond memories of the Chips and some of the football games I've witnessed (although they sucked when I was there in 1996-1999). So, I searched the 'net and found a blog at, with their resident blogger for CMU, Kyle Warber, who now lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Read his Fire Up Chips! by Kyle @ MLIVE. A few notes from the ES after each question... but a big THANKS - ES will likely make it up to Mt. Pleasant for a game this year... and, it IS LEFEVOUR, although I prefer Dan Le "Dr. Johnny" Fever.

1. As a Spartan football fan, we kind of think of CMU as the stray dog that won’t go away… sure you can kick their can most of the time, but every once in awhile they might be vicious (’91 & ’92). Matter of fact, until Appalachian State silented the scUM nation, our losses to CMU were seen as the whipping post by scUM fans about MSU. So, yeah, the stray dog analogy seems to fit. How do the Chips feel about the Spartans?

Like most residents of Michigan, the majority of CMU fans also follow U-of-M football so seeing any green in Mt. Pleasant is an anomaly.

Speaking as a fan who follows the football team very closely, it gets annoying when you guys poach one of our recruits like you did with Kevin Pickelman and Zach Hueter, then Mark Dantonio goes on the Huge Show and preaches about the sanctity of his recruiting tactics – he is as shady as they come.

Last year however all of our commitments held fast, even after MSU offers to Will Scwarz late in the game (stuck with CMU) and come-ons to Adam Fenton and Cody Pettit (stuck with CMU).

Personally I would just like to attend a regular season game MSU wins…I rooted for MSU against Notre Dame in 2006, in the rain, only to have defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. This is a true story, as all the fans are leaving the stadium in the rain, a kid I know who attends MSU yells to me across the departing crowd: “Now you know what it’s like to be a Spartan.”

ES: LOL re: "poaching." Dantonio is nasty. As for scUM - while up there, in all honesty, I can't remember meeting any Michigan fans, and have many MSU fans still up at Mt. Pleasant... so I argue Kyle's fandom argument... different crowds, obviously.

2. OK, let’s be real. If Dan Lefevre played a 10-game Big Ten schedule, he’d have a 40% completion mark, more INTs than TDs, and maybe 2,000 passing yards, and not even 500 rushing yards. Actually, he’d never finish a season – he’d be broken in two. Don’t you think?

Dan Lefevour is statistically better than any QB MSU has had this decade. Dan Lefevour will play in the NFL next year, not just hold a clip board for the Lions and do the night shift at Tim Hortons like Drew Staton.

Just compare the best mutual team we played last year when Brian Hoyer was your QB. Brian Hoyer throws one interception and no touchdowns against Georgia. Dan Lefevour throws 2 touchdowns. Now if MSU has more talent, why couldn’t Brian find the endzone?

ES: OK, dodging the question a bit here (it could have been better stated... but we'll go in your direction. Yes, let's compare. MSU lost to Georgia 24-12 (-12), and CMU lost 56-17 (-39). MSU didn't have more talent than Georgia, and Hoyer certainly wasn't that great of a QB -- not as good as Lefevour. But, alas, it is a team game, which is why MSU was in the Citrus Bowl with a 9-3 record, and why CMU was in the Motor City Bowl with an 8-5 record.

3. So, how many Chippewa fans are in Pittsburgh, or anywhere else in Pennsylvania for that matter?

ES: Kyle passed on this.

4. Why should the Big Green be scared of the Chips?

We have the best QB you will face all year, our D-line is better than yours, and you can’t cover Antonio Brown.

But forget what I just said, I think you guys should really be focused on Notre Dame. Don’t worry about us, we are just a tune up game for a “real team.”

5. History quiz: How many on the CMU roster went to East Lansing to witness the last time CMU beat MSU?

Your question doesn’t make sense, even on a rhetorical level…the last time we played was 2004 and nobody, from either teams current roster, was at that game.

ES: I threw you a bone, bummer, didn't read between the lines... but you made up for it with your excellent skinny elsewhere.

6. How is your offense? Who is good and who isn’t? Can you give Lefevre time to pass? Is your running game worth a damn?

You spelled Lefevours name wrong again. Our offense ranks ahead of MSU’s in every category so take every MSU starter on offense…make them better…and you have the CMU offense you will face.

7. What’s more impressive? The International Bowl or the Outback Bowl?

I would say the Citrus Bowl and the Silicon Valley Bowl….the only bowl games in 20 years that MSU has won. My parents live in Fresno and I was at the Silicon Valley Bowl, and there were 25 Michigan State fans and 45,000 Fresno State fans.

8. Who would you rather beat in any given year: MSU or WMU?

Since we have beaten both before…I will say both.

9. Since you will be using your kickers most of the game against MSU, are they any good? Why or why not? Do you have any trickery in that special teams bag?

Yes, we will be kicking-off most of the game.

10. Do you think MSU is any good? How good (in the Big Ten)?

I think MSU will be good enough to sneak into the Motor City Bowl before losing to the Ohio, Bobcats.

11. How good is CMU? If they were to play in the Big Ten this year, where would they end up (First #1 to Last #12)?

You compare everything to the Big 10, when the Big 10 is the worst BCS conference. How would MSU finish in the PAC 10, SEC, or Big 12?

ES: Answering a question with a question... But, I'll answer yours... MSU would finish 3rd Pac-10, 5th SEC, 4th Big 12, oh, and 1st MAC.

12. Defense wins championships; Big Ten and national championships anyways. How’s your defense – is it offensive? Who is good and who isn’t? Can you stop a mobile/option quarterback?

Why would a Michigan State fan be talking about Championships? That is a party foul…go drink.

ES: And he dodges the question again, like Lefevour dancing around a sack.

13. How many games do you get back to watch? How do you follow the Chips from afar – the MAC Network?

ES: Unanswered.

14. Bar question: It’s a post-game, late night atmosphere. Your choice - The Blackstone or The Green Spot. Why?

Okelly’s is the place in Mt. Pleasant, but if I wanted to smoke crack with Jeff Smoker it hit up an abandoned car behind Cedar Village.

15. Will you be coming down to EL to watch the Green spanking Lefevre?

I will be on the sidelines wearing a shirt that says: “I beat Charles Rodgers in the 40 yard dash and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt”

16. By the way, did you know this?

Sorry, I can’t bail you out anymore on how his name is spelled, your going to have to workshop this interview at LCC.

17. Your prediction?

The refs take away our touchdown in the 4th quarter and MSU wins 21 - 17.

Preview: Montana State University Bobcats (Sept. 5). East Lansing ain't the rodeo.

Is it too early for previews? NEVER! Less than a week until fall pratice begins - and the ES brings to you a Q & A from Will Holden, who blogs about the Montana State Bobcats over at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. This is the first of four non-conference previews, leading up to the release of the 6th Annual ES Football Preview for 2009, which features a plethora of skinny from the Spartan Nation.

1. Who should the Spartan Nation be worried about on your offense?

If this was 2008, I'd say the same thing I said to Minnesota Gopher fans last year - Demetrius Crawford. But it's 2009 and Crawford has disappeared into whatever realm is reserved for FCS running back alumni who don't get the NFL offers they think they deserve. Crawford rushed 19 times for 76 yards and returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the Bobcats' 35-23 loss to the Gophers last year. While there is no Crawford this year, there's a good chance it will once again be a running back that should worry Spartan Nation the most.

That said, this isn't exactly Tailback U we're talking about. Aaron Mason, who broke several school rushing records as a freshman in 2006 before he disappeared into whatever realm is reserved for FCS running backs who fall off the map before they become alumni, will likely be the feature back this season after taking much of 2007 and 2008 off.

But in all honesty, it's more likely that Montana State fans will be worried about their team's offense more than you will. Mason was held out of the spring recovering from a knee injury. Elvis Akpla - the drop down transfer from Oregon expected to be the savior of the teams' shaky wide receiving crops - was also set back with an ankle injury in the spring that allowed him to join DeSean Thomas - the teams' impressive freshman wide receiver in 2008 - on the sidelines.

And, oh yeah, the Bobcats still aren't settled on a quarterback. The leading candidate is likely Cody Kempt - another drop down from Oregon who started the first nine games of 2008 rather unimpressively. Mark Iddins, who led the team to its most impressive victory 2008 on the road against Northern Arizona while Kempt was sidelined with a season-ending knee injury that required surgery this offseason, is also in contention. But just to prove how fair the world is, Iddins injured his shoulder making a tackle on an interception late in that Northern Arizona game, which meant the only thing he and Kempt were competing for late last season was the best seat the bench. The Bobcats third quarterback of 2008, a converted wide receiver, was eliminated from contention this spring and Iddins took nearly all the snaps will Kempt was still recovering from knee surgery.

At least the offensive line should be good.

2. Who should the Spartan Nation be worried about on your defense?

Bit of a different story here. Defensive end Dane Fletcher is a Buck Buchanan candidate (FCS defensive player of the year) and Brad Smith on the opposite side of the line may prove to be the team's best defensive end by season's end.

The Bobcats did graduate their Buchanan candidate from a season ago at middle linebacker, but that shouldn't be a problem considering they have a capable replacement (Clay Bignell) who will be teaming with a pair of returning all-conference linebackers in Chase Gazzerro and Will Price.

The heart of the defense may be strong safety Kevin Retoriano and he'll team with a pair of returning corners - one of which is Cory Nicol, a solid drop down from Washington.

In short, if you simply must worry about the Bobcats, focus on the defensive side of the ball.

3. Anyone else?

Jason Cunningham is a returning all-conference kicker who hit two-of-three field goals from longer than 50 yards last year. He should prove to be handy if the Bobcats find themselves in a tight one, which isn't exactly what this game promises.

So stop worrying already!

4. What is your head coach like, what's his style? Gimme a recognizable, historical name, and finish the analogy...

I'm going to call Rob Ash a less hysterical version of Dick Vermeil. He's a compassionate dude; the son of a preacher man, no less. He is infamous for following his greatest quotes with "don't print that." He was hired for that very reason after the school's P.R. department put Sports Illustrated's George Dohrmann at the top of its feces list (pardon my French). See: SI article of every P.R. department's worst nightmare in 2007

So while Ash isn't going to spill all his recruiting secrets over a PBR at a local water hole, he won't give you a gravy train of bull honky (once again, the French!) that some other coaches at the FCS level force feed the media.

He is a fan of balance in his life as well as his offense. How's that for a corny tag line!

5. I've been to MSU-Billings before, and watched a basketball tournament there in the middle of a blizzard back in 2000; Saw the best Merle Haggard cover band ever. I was in Billings in 1992 and saw some old cowboys boozing it up and gambling poker at 8 am. I drove the highway across Montana back from Seattle around 1996... when they first dropped the speed limit; loved it, and it still took 8 hours. I've been to Red Lodge, Montana, had a great breakfast... beautiful town, LOVED IT. Those are my Montana experiences. What am I missing about Bozeman?

If you're an outdoors enthusiast, you drove by ground zero. There's some of the best fishing, hiking, camping and skiing in the world in about a 50 miles radius.

But if you want my pick for a guaranteed top 5 bender, it's the Livingston Roundup Rodeo. The thing sells out close to 5,000 seats every night during Fourth of July weekend in a town of around 7,000. I was one of the lucky few who didn't get tickets but got up the nerve to climb in the back of a randomly selected pickup with another few rodeo enthusiasts (I refuse to call them cowboys). Pickup hopping ensued, and we all know that just sound like a good idea.

6. Do you ski? Don't all Montanans ski? Don't all Montana State gridders ski? Shouldn't they?

I think the technical term for what I do is snowboarding. I come from a town just East of Keystone in Colorado, so I assume everyone in my life is involved some form of outdoor activity that involves snow and mountains and am continually surprised that there are those out there who aren't.

7. What do you think about MSU vs MSU? Isn't it wierd?

I'm planning on writing a column on it actually. I say let's start a war as to which school is more deserving of the moniker! I currently have MSU ahead in the bout.

8. Most Spartans, including the ES, are pretty upset the Spartans are playing out of our division -- the first time in our history. What do you think?

That's one of the most hotly debated topics in the FCS, too, although it's a little bit of a different argument. Some of the small college fans like the chance to see their teams go up against the big boys and do a little traveling for the game day experience if they have the means. Others hate the automatic loss column bump it usually delivers, considering the magic number for wins to get into the FCS playoffs is eight and they must be over Division I programs.

As a huge proponent of such ploys as interleague play, I'm a fan of playing outside of division. A little variety never hurt anybody. And I know I can handle a trip to Spartan Stadium, so I say bring them on!

9. On a scale of 1 (least likely) to 10 (most likely), what are your chances to Applachian State the Spartans?

Stranger things have happened. In fact, the Bobcats did down Colorado in 2006. But luckily I have Phil Steele's rankings to keep me from falling into homerism. Steele's the author of "the most accurate magazine over the past 10 years" when it comes to football preseason prediction. Hey, he said it. That means it must be true. Now if you want my real opinion of Steele, see:

But regardless of my feelings about Mr. Steele, let's say he got it at least somewhat right when he put Michigan State at No. 30 in his FBS poll and Montana State at No. 30 in his FCS poll. Considering Appalachian State is normally No. 1 in everyone's FCS poll and Michigan should have been about 100 in everyone's poll to begin last season (you're welcome Spartan fans), I'm going to say the Bobcats are ranked about 29 spots too low and the Spartans are about 70 spots too high to give Montana State any better odds than a 3.

10. How many fans you expect to travel to East Lansing for the game?

That would probably be a good question for these folks: I'll put the over/under at 500.

11. Did you know famous Montanan author Tom McGuane (92 in the Shade) was not only a Montana State grad, he's a Michigan State grad? Are there any others? Are you?

I am as unfamiliar with that fact that Tom McGuane attended any MSU as I am with 92 in the Shade. I know McGuane better for his role in arranging one of the first editions of The Best American Sports Writing.

And considering I didn't know the most famous MSU crossover, I'm going to have to concede that I don't know any others. As for myself, I'm a UPS man. If you can figure out that collegiate acronym, give your self a pat on the back.

(Hint: Think not of "What can brown do for you?")

ES response: UPS - University of Puget Sound, about 25 miles from my Dad's house, in Tacoma, Washington.

12. If the game were decided by tailgating, what would the final score be?

I'm not sure if they make numbers that high or that low. But there is one group of Bobcat gentlemen who spent the upwards of 100 grand sprucing up an entertainment system on wheels that includes a couple 50 inch LCD tubes and a few propane heaters powerful enough to help stave off hypothermia from a sellout crowd (15,000) at Bobcat Stadium.

And I do know a few Bobcats who know their way around biscuits and gravy.

13. What is Montana State's claim to fame?

I've only been in Bozeman for a little over a year, so I'm not as familiar with the history of the school itself. But it's hard to cover this football team and not get an earful on its national championships from '56, '76 and '84.

Every win over their hated cross-state rivals (I think dUMb is my favorite designation Bobcat fans have come up with for the Grizzlies) is something to brag about as well. Heck, in 2005 they tore down the goal posts after accomplishing the feat.

14. What will it take for Montana State to win - break out the X's and O's, what magic is in the bag?

Not much magic here. With a team like MSU that promises to have a stout defense and shaky offense, it's never too complicated.

Quarterback play and holding on to the football will be key. Against Minnesota, the Bobcats came in playing some of their worst football of the year having just lost 69-10 to Kansas State, but when their quarterbacks didn't implode (i.e. interceptions in the wrong red zone - which I guess could be either) and when they were able to plod along on the ground, there was a decent cross section of Metrodome goers who believe the Bobcats could beat the Gophers.

And they weren't all wearing blue and gold.

15. Will you be flying (or driving out) for the game? Wanna tailgate?

We at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle travel in style. This, of course, means we'll be taking a four-layover flight from Bozeman to Lansing.

And as far as tailgating, I believe the answer I should give is "Does a bear defecate in the woods?" (damn the French!). I will be working, though, so I'll have to opt for the munchies if I'm invited.

16. How cold does it get, how much snow do you get at a game? Do you have a photo? How many folks stick around in the stands to watch?

These are probably the best two posts to illustrate last year's snow bowl against Weber State, which had a game-time temperature of right around 0: and

But I've been told it gets much worse, especially before the team switched to field turf last year. I'm told 20 below isn't out of the question, and I believe it considering I somehow managed to live through a week of similar temperatures last winter.

17. What's the NFL team to follow in Montana - the Vikings, the Broncos, or the Seahawks? Or do they just go fishing and skiing instead?

You'll get a good mix of all three. But the games that are most often broadcast are the Broncos and Seahawks. And that's just fine by me!

18. Beer + football = life. The ES loves hoppy beer; in Michigan we have Bell's Brewery. What do you drink in Montana?

I'm a dark beer man myself, but I'd have to say Montanans generally live by this rule: "If you can read the paper through it, it's probably financially viable and it will do the trick." When The Filling Station announced it would be serving the staple of the Olympia Brewing Company out of the tap, it set off quite the uproar.

And I do believe Old Milwaukie in bottles sends quite a few Bobcat fans into a state of arousal.

19. How good do you think Michigan State will be this year? How good will Montana State be this year?

I have to admit I haven't done anywhere near the amount of research necessary to tell you how your Spartans will do this season. I must say I'm in agreement with those on the nation level who say the Big Ten is down right now and it would be a tragedy if Penn State made the national title game even if they went undefeated. I must also say I'm intrigued about infusing the conference with players like Terrelle Pryor. I think he represents the exciting future of college football much better than the Power I. I think the conference can be had by an unlikely agent this year; I'm just not sure if Michigan State will be that team.

I have, on the other hand, done a fair amount of research on the Bobcats chances in 2009. It is, after all, my job. If you want my in depth opinion on how the Big Sky will shake out, check here: If you haven't figured this out by now, I'm a bit of a wind bag, so on the off-chance you don't want to read a 1,000 word investigation of a league that you will only be worrying about for one game, this may do…

I'm expecting the Bobcats to finish third in their conference with an outside shot at making the playoffs - it's a series of games to eliminates the unworthy in hopes of determining a true champion for you BCS followers who might have forgotten.

20. What is Montana State's best player and will he matter vs Michigan State?

Right now, I think Dane Fletcher probably has to be considered the best player on the Bobcats. And after an offseason of rehabbing a knee injury at Arizona State and impressing a few FBS coaches and NFL scouts in the process, I think he might make life interesting for whoever ends up under center for the Spartans.

21. Is this quiz too long?

What else am I gonna do at noon on a Wednesday? Work? Oh wait, this is my job. Somebody pinch me!