Friday, September 30, 2011

Game Day: ES predicts MSU at Ohio State

Doctor: Hey, you wanna chance for a "program win?"  You wanna turn back the demons and make a statement, defining Spartan new defensive dominance?  Well, the time is nigh, time for MD and the Spartans to prove they belong in the upper tier... bring on da Buckeyes!!! 

#25 Michigan State (3-1) at Ohio State (3-1)
Columbus, Ohio.  3:30 pm ET.
Rankings:  MSU #25 (USA Today), #26 (AP), #41 (Sagarin).  Ohio State #27 (USAT), #30 (AP), #34 (Sagarin)
Weather: 50 degrees,partly cloudy.
Line:  Ohio State favored by 3

Picks:  ESPN/Rittenberg: MSU 23-21, ESPN/Bennett: MSU 16-14, Freep: MSU 27-24, Scout/CFN: MSU 23-16, Rivals/Noon: OSU 24-21, Rivals/Rowland, MSU 24-23, Rivals/Givler, OSU 24-21, Rivals/McLachlan, OSU 20-17, NBCSports: MSU 24-23,, OSU, GR Press: MSU 24-23, Cleveland Plain Dealer: OSU 24-21, MSU 21-13, MSU 30-17.

ES pick:  OSU 23, MSU 21. Pray I'm wrong! 
Predicted stats of the week:  Spartans hold Buckeyes to under 300 yards total offense; but, Cousins suffers 4 sacks and MSU held to under 100 yards rushing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Buckeye Battle Cry on Michigan State-Ohio State

In advance of the gridiron battle between the #25 Spartans at the unranked Ohio State Buckeyes, the ES is providing the OSU side of a reciprocal blogchat with Buckeye Battle Cry - the ES response to MSU-OSU is up on BBC - link here.

Here are the responses from BBC to the interrogation by the ES.  Enjoy, and, thanks BBC!

Braxton Miller seems to at least temporarily be the answer for the Buckeyes at QB, after the rough game by Joe Bauserman at Miami.  But why swap QBs so soon in the season, particularly after Bauserman’s serviceable performance in the tight win vs. Toledo (ahem)?  Is Bauserman the fall guy here? Is this an itchy trigger finger by Luke Fickell?

This is certainly anything but an itchy trigger finger from Luke Fickell.  During the Toledo game, the Buckeyes had intended to bring Braxton Miller into the game, only to find themselves down 15-7 at the end of the first quarter.  That situation, and the fact that the Bucks were never able to gain a solid lead led to Fickell and company sticking with Bauserman the entire game.

Now, many fans viewed Bauserman's performance against Toledo to be far less than serviceable, despite the fact that he committed no turnovers and ultimately won us the game.  Bauserman missed plenty of open targets, always overthrowing his receivers, and often throwing the ball away with an open receiver somewhere else on the field.  While the outcry about Braxton not getting to play wasn't deafening, it was pretty loud.

Then came the Miami game, and down crashed any illusion of the OSU passing game surviving the loss of Terrelle Pryor.  Joe Bauserman completed 2 of 14 passes for the entire game, often throwing the ball away rather than risking a pass to a perfectly open receiver.  While Braxton Miller did not do much better in crunch time (0-2 with 1 INT) he wasn't given a lot of opportunities, constantly being pulled from the game after the slightest mistake.  If anything, Luke's itchy trigger finger was keeping him from giving the young gun a shot.

The Colorado game demonstrated to us that Braxton Miller is absolutely the future of the program.  Coming in, it was a certainty that Miller would get the start, particularly considering that "playing it safe" was not going to gain us as much as giving the future of the program a shot.  While that decision led to only 5-13 passing for 2 touchdowns, many of those misses were due to drops from the receivers rather than a poor pass from Miller.  In fact, Miller's play during the Colorado game was particularly impressive overall, and hopefully he can continue to progress from there.

How instrumental is the passing game for OSU, or is all that matters is a little bit of running here and a lot of defense there?

It's just as instrumental to the OSU offense as the running game is.  Luke Fickell had a fantastic quote in the Colorado postgame,

COACH FICKELL: Obviously the whole goal of an offense is to be balanced. I think that’s the number one most important thing. To me you don’t want to lead the nation in rushing, because if you lead the nation in rushing you probably can’t throw the football. If you lead the nation in passing, you probably don’t run the football too well. So we’ve got to continue to figure out how we can be a little bit more balanced in everything we do.

Obviously, the OSU strategy strongly depends on excellent defense. In the last decade or so, the Buckeyes have rested their hopes on the defense keeping the other team from succeeding at their game-plan, and allowing their offense to do whatever it can.  Sometimes the offense goes crazy, and sometimes it struggles - but OSU's long list of 10 and 11 win seasons has happened because the defense has kept opponents from scoring particularly often.  This has not changed at all with the changing of the coaching guard.

Give a little insight into the OSU backs, Carlos Hyde or Jordan Hall: who is the better running back or receiver… and why are these Buckeyes so damn effective when they get their hands on the ball?

Carlos Hyde has started to come into his own the last couple of games, but Jordan Hall is absolutely the better back of the two.  Jordan Hall has an incredible field vision that few players manage to develop.  He hits the gaps in the defense better than many, in both the running game and in the return game, and has a swiftness that belies his lack of breakaway speed.  Carlos Hyde is probably not going to be the next amazing OSU back, but he's certainly improved his vision the last couple of games.

Ultimately, it's the offensive line that makes these backs so successful.  The Buckeyes have a veteran line led by senior Center Mike Brewster.  This line is absolutely one of the best that has played at OSU during the last decade.  They get a fantastic push in run blocking, and often single-handedly break the running back into the secondary without a single defender getting a whiff at him.

Who has stepped up their game to make the Buckeyes once again so tough this year on defense?  If the Spartans are to be effective at all on Saturday with their offense, how can they take advantage of the Buckeyes? 

Several names come to mind on the defensive side of the ball.  For the most part, the entire OSU Secondary is new, and they are doing a fantastic job.  Most notably are Travis Howard and Bradley Roby, OSU's corners.  Joining them are CJ Barnett and Christian Bryant in the safety positions.  All four have combined to be a very effective coverage unit.

Not surprisingly given their youth, they do still give up a big play here or there, particularly in their zone coverage.  The Buckeyes tend to run a hybrid zone/man defense, rarely depending on a full zone.  However, when they do run a zone, the defense seems to struggle in the coverage, giving up soft targets over the middle (primarily due to the linebackers).  The other method of attack is to use the screen, which OSU struggled to defend against when playing Toledo.  The Rockets repeatedly went back to the screen and gashed big gains against the Buckeyes.  Colorado had less success, but that could have more to do with their quality as a football team than anything to do with the Buckeyes improving their defense.

The best player on the Buckeye defense who the Spartans need to have etched into their foreheads is ___________  (name one).

John Simon, #54.  Know the number, because he will hit Kirk Cousins, even if he doesn't quite get there in time for the sack.  Blocking him coming off the edge is very nearly impossible, and he likes to make quarterback's pay for their tackle's mistakes.

If this game came down to a kick by Drew Basil or Dan Conroy from 45 yards… who do you choose?  From what maximum distance do you have faith in Basil when the game is on the line?

If this game comes down to a kick by anybody, I'm not gonna be a happy camper.  At this point, I'd take Dan Conroy, but only because Drew Basil has yet to demonstrate that he is anything more than an acceptable place kicker.  Early in the season he missed several chip-shot field goals, shanking the kicks in entirely the wrong direction.  Now he's on a streak, hitting 5 straight including a 47 yarder.  How he plays in this one will go a long way towards improving our confidence in his abilities as a kicking threat.

What will be the play of the game that the Spartans can try to avoid?

The Buckeyes don't usually depend on a single play that opposing teams can avoid.  Often, OSU will simply use a never-ending stream of less significant plays that slowly drive you absolutely insane.

Or was that drive us insane?  I can't ever keep that straight.

If we learned anything from the Colorado game, the OSU Special Teams completely crushed the Buffaloes.
The best thing MSU could try to avoid is a big return from Jordan Hall.  He's bound to break one for a score one of these days, and has very nearly done it already, so it would behoove the Spartans to practice sealing the gaps before this one.

Hayes (205 wins, 76%) – Bruce (81 wins, 76%) – Cooper (111 wins, 70%) – Tressel (94 wins, 81%) – Fickell?  Fickell… really? This guy can top 70% wins over a 10+ year career? 

And how did you guys feel about Dantonio following in Saban's footsteps?  Exactly.

To be honest, we don't know yet how Fickell will do in the head spot.  We've seen 4 games to date, and he's done a reasonably solid job of taking care of business.  It's hard to say yet if he's the right choice for the job. in fact we didn't know that Tressel was "right" for the job until he beat Michigan in his first season.
Though, you could also argue that it required the majority of the 2002 season for us to really feel like he was the right guy.

As for Fickell, he's got the right personality and mentality to be able to do a good job, he just needs to get some experience under his belt.  I think he'll do fine eventually, he's just got to be given a little time.

So, how does Gordon Gee feel about handling orders from his new boss?

Just fine, thanks.  Everything is peachy-keen down here.

I’ll bet you the state of Ohio that the ES hates scUM more than you, more than Mr. Bucknut, and more than the entire Buckeye nation.  I bet you. 

Well, considering you don't own the state of Ohio I'm gonna need a wager on your end before I defeat you mercilessly.
As a graduate of Ohio State University, and a current graduate student at Michigan State University, I can honestly say with 100% certainty that Michigan State fans do not hate Michigan more than Ohio State fans. But even given that, considering I enjoy the non-Michigan side of both of these charming rivalries, I absolutely hate Michigan more than you.  Hands down.

Patience young grasshopper, someday you will find true zen Michigan hating.

You can go ahead and keep the UP, we don't need it.

(ES REBUTTAL:  The ES likely ain't as young as BBC thinks, the ES dislikes the UP after working as an SID and living up dere for a year, and the ES just earned his PhD from MSU last week...  That said, at least we have a common hatred.)   

Monday, September 26, 2011

Spartans drop to #25, a FG underdog to Ohio State

After the Big Green's 45-7 thumping of CMU, the Spartans find themselves as 3-point underdogs at Ohio State, according to   In other Big Ten matchups, JoePa is favored by 17 at Indiana; Illinois is favored by 7 over Northwestern; Michigan by 21 over Minnesota; Wisconsin by 10 over Nebraska; Notre Dame by 13 at Purdue; Iowa has a bye this week.

The coaches must've seen through the Spartans' lackluster offense.  They dropped from #23 to #25 in the USA Today poll - despite winning by 38 pts.  Here is the weekly poll;

USA Today Poll
1Oklahoma (32)3-01434
2Alabama (7)4-01404
2LSU (20)4-01404
5Boise State3-01223
6Oklahoma State4-01172
9South Carolina4-0976
10Virginia Tech4-0935
13Texas A&M2-1681
14South Florida4-0631
21Georgia Tech4-0333
23West Virginia3-1158
24Florida State2-2157
25Michigan State3-1153
  • Dropped from rankings: North Carolina 25
  • Others receiving votes: Houston 70, Ohio State 61, Arizona State 57, Penn State 34, Iowa State 33, Kansas State 13, North Carolina 13, Texas Tech 13, Utah 11, Northwestern 5, Washington 3, Tennessee 3, Auburn 2, Temple 1, Air Force 1

Sunday, September 25, 2011

MSU crushes CMU, needs help on interior O-line

OK - reality is that MSU won 45-7, should have won 100-0, and the Spartans were not that impressive... which means this was the worst CMU team I have ever seen. Chips were dreadful. As for MSU, yes, Cousins looked... bad. He missed 3-4 wide open recs, including Sims and Cunningham each without any Chip within 15 yards. But he DID hit Caper on a beautiful wheel route in the 3rd for a TD. As for the O-Line. They stink. The interior of the off line is the biggest, major concern for this team to have any chance; injuries are affecting the play, and it shows. Without a decent O-Line we are a 7-5 team. It showed today, 100-0, 45-7, or whatever, we are in a bind along the front. As for the DEFENSE, well defense wins championships, and from front to back left to right, this is the best Spartan defense since 1988. Mark my word, best defensive UNIT in years.

Actually, the MSU defense was in CMU QBs face all game long.  Radcliff could have taken a sack, but instead stupidly threw the ball and it was returned for a pick-6; CMU was 2-12 on third downs, and hit only around 1/3 of their passes -- because of lots of pressure from Gholston, Pickelman, and Worthy.  How many, 4, 5, 6 passes were broken up at the line of scrimmage? The ES argues that sacks (or lack thereof) don't equal quality of D-line.  MSU was all over CMU.  4 INTs, all thrown off the back foot by both CMU QBs because MSU d-line was in their face. The Spartan d-line was strong in this game.  Lack of sacks may not show it, but the Green was dominant up front on defense, totally. Very impressive. MSU gave up just 21 yards rushing and only 91 yards passing demonstrate the major impact of the d-line.

Now, the Spartan Offense has some explaining to do, as far as all the missed open passes by Cousins, and only one run longer than 16 yards - against a bad team. But, we did win big time...

                   CMU      MSU

FIRST DOWNS...................        8       23
  Rushing.....................        3        9
  Passing.....................        5       12
  Penalty.....................        0        2
NET YARDS RUSHING.............       21      197
  Rushing Attempts............       18       47
  Average Per Rush............      1.2      4.2
  Rushing Touchdowns..........        0        3
  Yards Gained Rushing........       42      208
  Yards Lost Rushing..........       21       11
NET YARDS PASSING.............       91      284
  Completions-Attempts-Int....  12-33-4  20-30-1
  Average Per Attempt.........      2.8      9.5
  Average Per Completion......      7.6     14.2
  Passing Touchdowns..........        1        2
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS...........      112      481
  Total offense plays.........       51       77
  Average Gain Per Play.......      2.2      6.2
Fumbles: Number-Lost..........      3-0      2-0
Penalties: Number-Yards.......     3-26     4-20
PUNTS-YARDS...................    7-266     3-87
  Average Yards Per Punt......     38.0     29.0
  Net Yards Per Punt..........     35.3     12.3
  Inside 20...................        1        0
  50+ Yards...................        0        0
  Touchbacks..................        0        1
  Fair catch..................        1        1
KICKOFFS-YARDS................    2-132    8-535
  Average Yards Per Kickoff...     66.0     66.9
  Net Yards Per Kickoff.......     45.5     45.2
  Touchbacks..................        0        0
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD.   1-30-0   4-19-0
  Average Per Return..........     30.0      4.8
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD  8-173-0   2-41-0
  Average Per Return..........     21.6     20.5
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD..   1-28-0   4-75-1
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD.    0-0-0    0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards...........        0        0
Possession Time...............    21:55    38:05
  1st Quarter.................     7:06     7:54
  2nd Quarter.................     6:38     8:22
  3rd Quarter.................     4:04    10:56
  4th Quarter.................     4:07    10:53
Third-Down Conversions........  2 of 12  6 of 15
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   0 of 1   1 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      1-1      6-7
  Touchdowns..................      1-1      5-7
  Field goals.................      0-1      1-7
Sacks By: Number-Yards........      0-0      1-4
PAT Kicks.....................      1-1      6-6
Field Goals...................      0-0      1-1
Football notes:  

1) Alabama is the #1 team in the nation by a mile, Oklahoma friends and family are high on glue if they think they are in the same league as the Tide.  After watching the 38-17 crushing of AR-Kansas, methinks noone is near the southern elephant.   

2) Minny losing to N Dakota State.   Wow.  Ain’t it great the Gophers have a brand new stadium to stink up?
Hoops on the Carrier 11-11-11?   

Nice update by Katz/ESPN on the details for hoops on the USS Vincent, though the ES notes the idea first appeared publicly from the ES, when he tossed out a lie in March 2003 about a potential FOOTBALL GAME on an aircraft carrier a full year before any conception of a hoops game on a carrier..


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Game Day: ES predicts MSU vs CMU

Central Michigan Chippewas (1-2) at MSU Spartans (2-1)
East Lansing, MI. 12:00 pm.
Rankings:  MSU #23 (USA Today), #26 (AP), #49 (Sagarin).  CMU #114 (Sagarin).
Weather: 65 degrees, sunny.
Line:  MSU favored by 23

ES pick:  MSU 45, CMU 14.
Stats of the week:  A vicious MSU pass rush collects 5 sacks and 4 turnovers.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Spartans drop to #23, favored by 23 over CMU

So, the Spartans drop to #23 in the USA Today coaches poll, and fall to #26 in the AP media poll. A well earned snubbing by the pundits.   Interestingly enough, the Spartans are also a 23-pt favorite over CMU this upcoming Saturday, as noted by  Ohio State is favored by 16 over Colorado, Illinois by 13 over WMU, JoePa by 29 over EMU, Michigan by 9 over SDSU, Nebraska by 23 1/2 at Wyoming, Indiana  by 7 1/2 at North Texas, and Iowa by 18 over La-Monroe.  Here is the latest USA Today poll :

USA Today Poll
1Oklahoma (50)2-01463
2Alabama (4)3-01402
3LSU (5)3-01373
4Boise State2-01212
6Oklahoma State3-01126
8Texas A&M2-01033
10South Carolina3-0876
11Virginia Tech3-0852
14Florida State2-1801
16West Virginia3-0529
17South Florida3-0485
23Michigan State2-1119
24Georgia Tech3-0118
25North Carolina3-099
  • Dropped from rankings: Ohio State 16, Arizona State 18, Auburn 19, Mississippi State 25
  • Others receiving votes: Ohio State 92, Illinois 90, Houston 60, Miami (FL) 39, Iowa State 27, Missouri 22, California 21, Penn State 19, Utah 17, Arizona State 16, Auburn 14, San Diego State 14, Florida International 11, Vanderbilt 11, Mississippi State 8, Tennessee 5, Texas Tech 3, Notre Dame 3, Washington 3, Ohio 2, Northwestern 1

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What does MSU's 31-13 loss to ND mean?

Michigan State was outcoached and made far too many mistakes to defeat Notre Dame yesterday.  Their 31-13 loss included just three points made off of 3 Irish turnovers, with the Spartans coming up empty after two drives within the ND 10-yard line.  That was truly unfortunate.  One of those, a pick of Cousins at the end of the game at the ND 3 was brutal, just a bad throw and poor decision by Cousins.  I didn't understand Dantonio's decision to punt late in the game, but he must have known the Irish were going to fumble, and they promptly coughed it up.  Unfortunately, Cousins threw that INT three plays later, and the game was over.

The OL gave Cousins time to throw, but could open no holes for the MSU rushing game... this looks like one of those years of an "average" O-Line at best. With only 25 yards rushing and 53 pass attempts -- that is a recipe for a loss every time, particularly for the Spartans.   The offense struggled all day to get into some kind of rhythm, but just could not have any sustained drives into the end zone, other than the 11-play, 80 yard drive that ended with the TD pass from Cousins to Sims.  Some of the trickery (failed reverse to Cunningham; failed direct snap to Martin) was as if the Spartans were trying too hard, being cute a la Treadwell instead of getting to basics to be successful.  And, the timing of these plays was most unfortunate; on third downs don't get so tricky, particularly with an Irish D-line that is stuffing the run all day.

The fake-FG at the end of the first half was poor decision-making by Dantonio.  Everyone new the fake was on, and... with the Irish stuffing the interior all day, why bother with an inside shovel pass?   MSU should have put its offense on the field to go for it, instead of coming up with an unconvincing fake FG try.

In the second quarter, the pass interference penalty on Gardiner after stopping ND deep in its own territory was brutal - it led to a 92-yard scoring drive by ND.  And, the ND score off a kick return didn't help. 

Still, MSU had plenty of opportunities to win throughout the second half... but had too few points off the opportunities and ND turnovers.  Give ND credit, they made the plays when they needed to, and the Spartans didn't make the plays at critical times.

The key stats?  #1: ND outgaining MSU 114 to 29 on the ground; and, #2: MSU just 5 of 17 (29%) on third downs.  That means lots of stalled drives for MSU and a one-dimensional offense.

So, what does this loss mean?  This doesn't look like an 11-1 Spartan team... at this point it looks more like an 8-4 team.  Unless the running game gets going, it will be tough for this team to win the line of scrimmage against Wisconsin and at Nebraska. It also puts into further question the Spartans chances against Michigan, at Iowa, and at Northwestern.  I figure of those five games, there may by three losses: that equals an 8-4 mark.  Coach Dantonio can turn this ship around, but the Spartans need to be more advantageous of their turnovers, and need to do a better job converting third downs.   MSU should bounce back just fine vs the Chippewas next week, considering the CMU team was crushed by WMU, 44-14 yesterday.  But the long term prognosis is questionable without some remedy along the front line, and better decision making in critical junctures of the game.

              Team Statistics (Final)
                          2011 Michigan State Football
      #15 Michigan State vs Notre Dame (Sep 17, 2011 at Notre Dame, Ind.)

                                    MSU       ND

FIRST DOWNS...................       21       18
  Rushing.....................        1        6
  Passing.....................       18        8
  Penalty.....................        2        4
NET YARDS RUSHING.............       29      114
  Rushing Attempts............       23       32
  Average Per Rush............      1.3      3.6
  Rushing Touchdowns..........        0        2
  Yards Gained Rushing........       54      141
  Yards Lost Rushing..........       25       27
NET YARDS PASSING.............      329      161
  Completions-Attempts-Int....  34-54-1  18-26-1
  Average Per Attempt.........      6.1      6.2
  Average Per Completion......      9.7      8.9
  Passing Touchdowns..........        1        1
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS...........      358      275
  Total offense plays.........       77       58
  Average Gain Per Play.......      4.6      4.7
Fumbles: Number-Lost..........      1-1      3-2
Penalties: Number-Yards.......    12-86     6-53
PUNTS-YARDS...................    6-238    4-166
  Average Yards Per Punt......     39.7     41.5
  Net Yards Per Punt..........     36.8     41.5
  Inside 20...................        1        2
  50+ Yards...................        1        1
  Touchbacks..................        1        0
  Fair catch..................        3        0
KICKOFFS-YARDS................    4-257    6-407
  Average Yards Per Kickoff...     64.2     67.8
  Net Yards Per Kickoff.......     28.8     39.7
  Touchbacks..................        0        2
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD.    0-0-0   2--3-0
  Average Per Return..........      0.0     -1.5
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD  4-129-0  4-142-1
  Average Per Return..........     32.2     35.5
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD..   1-34-0   1-82-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD.    0-0-0    0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards...........        0        0
Possession Time...............    32:28    27:32
  1st Quarter.................     6:32     8:28
  2nd Quarter.................     7:52     7:08
  3rd Quarter.................     7:16     7:44
  4th Quarter.................    10:48     4:12
Third-Down Conversions........  5 of 17  5 of 12
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   1 of 3   0 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      2-5      2-2
  Touchdowns..................      1-5      1-2
  Field goals.................      1-5      1-2
Sacks By: Number-Yards........      1-7     2-18
PAT Kicks.....................      1-1      4-4
Field Goals...................      2-2      1-1

Thursday, September 15, 2011

ES Game Day Predictions: Michigan State at the Friggin Irish

MSU Spartans at Notre Dame Irish
South Bend, IN.  3:30 pm.
Rankings:  MSU #15 (AP, USA Today), #28 (Sagarin).  Notre Dame #53 (Sagarin).
Line:  ND favored by 5
Weather: 68 degrees, sunny.

Picks:  NBC Sports: MSU 24-23.  CBS Sports: ND 31-21. ESPN/Schlabach: ND.  ESPN/Rittenberg: MSU 27-24.  ESPN/Bennett: MSU 31-28. Bleacher Report/Rymer: ND 27-24.  Scout/CFN:  ND 38-34.

ES pick:  MSU 27, ND 21.
Stat of the week:  Worthy, Pickelman, and a stingy MSU defense holds ND to less than 100 yards rushing, less than 400 total yards. MSU has won 10 of 14 and will continue its dominance at Spartan Stadium West with another resounding, defensive domination.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spartan combat uniforms unveiled; They are the GREATEST uniform design in the history of football

One of my students just showed this to me after class. Sweet... though it may resemble Oregon's unis too much? NOPE - after further review, these are about the slickest damn uniforms the ES has ever seen.  They should be permanent. Immediately.

The Big Green will sport them when they kick Michigan's overrated arse on October 15. Love the comment on the "Bronze" color embedded throughout the uniform: "BRONZE: The superior weaponry armor and strategy made Spartans legendary warriors. Brother protects brother as the team defends the field. PHALANX."  And, those gloves are amazing.  Ridiculously cool.  Read how Grinz raves about the new uniforms for, and subsequently published over on  Wow, these are pretty slick (more static images here).

As stated by the Detroit News: "The uniform, which includes a bronze helmet and black pants, has inscribed in back of the collar the words "Molon Labe," which means "come and take them" in Greek, a classic and defiant expression connected to King Leonidas of Sparta, according to"

Monday, September 12, 2011

MSU NOT favored by 5 over the Irish; Spartans move up to #15

Michigan State, after its defensive-minded, dominating annihilation of Florida Atlantic, 44-0, now travels to take on 0-2 Notre Dame, which decided to fold about :23 seconds too soon in its 35-31 loss at Michigan last Saturday.

The 2-0 Spartans, which moved up to #15 in both the USA Today and AP Polls, open as 5-pt favorites UNDERDOGS (SEE POST BELOW) over the Irish in South Bend.   Iowa is favored by 3 at home over Pittsburgh; Michigan by 29 at home over EMU; JoePa by 9.5 at Temple; Wisky by 16 vs Northern Illinois (in Chicago); Minny by 3 home over Miami (Ohio); Nebraska by 17.5 home over Washington;  Arizona State by 1.5 at Illinois; Northwestern by 7 at Army;  Purdue v SE Missouri State and Indiana vs SC State have no line...

As for the Big Green, it moved up to #15.  Here's the USA Today poll for good measure:

USA Today Poll
1Oklahoma (44)1-01453
2Alabama (8)2-01410
3LSU (7)2-01372
4Boise State1-01214
5Florida State2-01211
7Oklahoma State2-01072
9Texas A&M1-01001
11South Carolina2-0863
12Virginia Tech2-0842
15Michigan State2-0639
16Ohio State2-0566
18Arizona State2-0353
20West Virginia2-0304
22South Florida2-0230
25Mississippi State1-1125

Dropped from rankings: Missouri 19, Penn State 20
Others receiving votes: Michigan 97, UCF 49, Houston 43, Northwestern 31, Penn State 29, North Carolina 23, Tennessee 21, Missouri 21, Georgia Tech 9, Maryland 9, Clemson 8, Washington 7, California 6, San Diego State 3, Georgia 2, Iowa State 2, Brigham Young 1

ND favored by 5 - what the x$#@%!

OK, so many folks pointing out to the ES that it is ND favored by 5.  Thanks, the correction is appreciated... But, where does the ES get his info?  From a source called  Yesterday, at 6 pm, they posted a line from Wynn in Vegas that said MSU -5 and from BoDog via OffShore Odds that stated MSU -5.5 vs ND (so if Wisconsin is -16 vs Miami, since I can't read lines it would mean they are an underdog to Miami Ohio? Of course, they aren't).  Now, we see that the VI website switched it from a stupid idiot input error.  Those that say the ES can't read betting lines, come on, gimme a break... The ES is only sharing the info as it is disseminated.  But, what is good to know is that this VI website is not to be considered the best source of info on Sunday evenings.  Lesson learned...

Thanks, for the correction - MSU SHOULD be favored by 5...  We'll win by at least that much... Go GREEN!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Walk to Spartan Stadium

IMG_0137 a video by enlightenedspartan on Flickr.

Here is a video the ES took yesterday as he crossed the bridge over the Red Cedar River, walking to Spartan Stadium to witness Michigan State's 44-0 rout of Florida Atlantic.

2011 MSU Spartan football


2011 MSU Spartan football, a set on Flickr.

Michigan State 44, Florida Atlantic 0. September 10, 2011. East Lansing, MI.

What a butt-kicking.
Total yards: MSU 434, FAU 48.
First downs: MSU 27, FAU 1.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

GAME DAY: ES predicts MSU vs Florida Atlantic and Big Ten odds

Michigan State Spartans vs. Florida Atlantic Owls
East Lansing, MI.  Noon
Weather: Nice, maybe a little wet.  72 degrees, 40% t-storms
Latest Line:  MSU favored by 32 1/2 pts (-32.5)

Rankings: MSU #16 (USA Today), #17 (AP), #39 (Sagarin) vs FAU #135 (Sagarin)

ES prediction: MSU 37, Florida Atlantic 17.
Key Stat prediction:  Edwin Baker will have more than 150 yards rushing.

Notables from last week:  FAU gained only 137 total yards to 468 by #18 Florida in a 41-3 rout by the Gators.

OTHER BIG TEN ODDS:  Wisconsin -20 home over Oregon State; Ohio State -18 home over Toledo;  Minny -20 home over New Mexico State; Alabama -10 on the road at Joe Pa; Purdon't -1 away at Rice; Nebraska -28 home vs Fresno State; Virginia -6.5 at Indiana; ummm, does this make sense after the AWFUL performance of the Irish vs South Florida... -3.5 at Michigan????  other game of note... CMU an 11 point 'dog at Kentucky.  Not listed: Illinois vs S Dakota St; Northwestern vs Eastern Illinois

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

MSU up a notch to #16

Fascinating how a ho-hum win (28-6) against a ho-hum oppenent (Youngstown State) equals a smidgeon above the status quo.  MSU doesn't move in the AP, but up a notch in the USA Today poll.

USA Today Poll
1Oklahoma (43)1-01454
2Alabama (9)1-01412
3LSU (7)1-01366
4Florida State1-01198
5Boise State1-01197
7Oklahoma State1-01038
8Texas A&M1-0997
11Virginia Tech1-0863
12South Carolina1-0827
15Ohio State1-0686
16Michigan State1-0584
17Mississippi State1-0497
20Penn State1-0247
23Arizona State1-0189
24West Virginia1-0185

Dropped from rankings:
Notre Dame 18, Georgia 22

Others receiving votes:
Baylor 117, South Florida 97, Iowa 44, Utah 42, Georgia 35, Houston 31, Northwestern 30, Arizona 28, UCF 18, Hawaii 17, North Carolina 15, Michigan 15, NORIL 13, Clemson 13, Southern Miss 12, Air Force 10, Notre Dame 8, Tennessee 5, Brigham Young 4, Maryland 4, Georgia Tech 3, Washington 3, Texas Tech 1, California 1, Cincinnati 1

Friday, September 02, 2011

GAME DAY: ES predicts MSU vs Youngstown State

Michigan State Spartans vs. Youngstown State Penguins
East Lansing, MI.  7:30 pm.
Weather: Hot & steamy.  85 degrees, 30% t-storms

Rankings: MSU #17 (USA Today, AP), #36 (Sagarin) vs YSU #151 (Sagarin)

ES prediction: MSU 52, Youngstown State 10. 
Key Stat prediction:  MSU will have over 250 yards rushing.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Michigan State to the PROMISED LAND in 2013: ES Predictions

What does the ES predict?  Sure, at best we can clean the slate and go to the PROMISED LAND.  At worst, the Big Green will still be a Touchdown Machine in 2011.  Many are predicting it could be the Doctor's best team... but with the toughest schedule.  It is TOUGH to predict as many last minute wins as last year, or as my buddy Paul says, I can predict the 2011 Spartans will be  "Probably the Greatest Team in the History of Football."  Of course, to help its cause, MSU has joined the list of woosies, like Michigan, who are scheduling DOWN for a guarantee win to secure bowl eligibility (Appalachian State withstanding).  Youngstown State tops the schedule.  Harumph.  If it was the greatest team ever, would we need to schedule YSU, or should we instead schedule top tiered BCS-conference teams?  Regardless of our status, the ES thinks the latter... schedule up, take our lumps, and DOMINATE.  You don't know until you try.

That said, let's predict the '11 slate...
  • 9/2. Youngstown State.  MSU 52-10. YSU graduated the cheatin' sweater to OSU, and YSU has never been the same since; they are clean, but stink. YSU wuz 3-8 last year.  MSU 1-0.
  • 9/10. Florida Atlantic.  MSU 37-17. Who scheduled this matchup? It's been ugly: a torrential downpour and 250 yards out of Ringer in '09, a 3/4 empty stadium in Detroit in '10, and... a four-sack effort out of Worthy in '11. MSU 2-0.
  • 9/17.  at Notre Dame.  MSU 29-28.  With no time remaining on the clock, Dantonio pulls the Hook-and-Lateral: Cousins-to-Cunningham-to a trailing-Baker. And, instead of the XP, Sparty goes for two, and runs the Statue of Liberty with LeVeon Bell for the conversion and win.  ND coach Kelly says, "Holy Shamrocks!  I seen this before!" Fools gold, MSU wins. MSU 3-0.
  • 9/14. CMU. MSU 38-14.  This ain't your Kelly or Davis Chips.  This is your Enos Chips.  These guys are a question mark in 2011: but, if it takes a penalty on a last second 4th-down touchdown pass, a botched onsides kick, and another penalty to recoup from a missed FG as time expires... on the best team you ever had... well, should be no problem this year. Since that debacle in 2009, MSU is up, and CMU is down.  Would be nice to be a good game, but it won't.  MSU 4-0.
  • 10/1.  at Ohio State.  MSU 27-21. Tressell returns, only to show up in the locker room, carrying $100 bills and shoving them down the pants of the players.  "Hey coach, we're running out onto the field! Pay us later!" "No worries, it's all about values -- go WIN and keep the greenbacks."  The Buckeyes will turn green, from the Spartan Touchdown Machine and Edwin Baker, who amasses 150 yards and a pair of TDs on the ground.  MSU 5-0.
  • 10/15. MICHIGAN.   MSU 34-28.  A battle between the Peanut Barrel and the Blimpy Burger ensues. Todd Blackledge is judge.  The Blimps throw one of their 2.1 billion combinations at Todd, the Barrel throws one of their 8 combinations at Todd -- and, like any scientist, figures out that simpler IS better (remember, E=mc2)?  The Barrel, Todd, and Spartans win in resounding fashion (despite a late throw away-TD for scUM).  MSU 6-0.
  • 10/22. WISCONSIN.  UW 31-24.   The longest Spartan winning streak at home (11 games through 10/15) since the era of Bubba Smith comes to a close with a Badger retribution from last year.  The ES is no fan of the stinking Badgers and Bielema, but MSU can't win at home forever...  MSU 6-1.
  • 10/29. at Nebraska.  MSU 29-27.  Dan Conroy for President:  he kicks five field goals, including the game winner as time expires.  Welcome to the Big Ten, Corn Men.  MSU 7-1.
  • 11/5.  MINNESOTA. MSU 37-24.  Minnesota limps into Spartan Stadium, with new coach Jerry Kill announcing that both it and Indiana will leave the Big Ten and instead join North Dakota and South Dakota in the Great West Conference.  The Big Ten will return to 10, the planets will align, and the world of sports will sing in harmony.  MSU 8-1.
  • 11/12.  at Iowa.  MSU 23-21. Local residents learn in horror as KFC announces it has fried up Iowa's ugly duckling mascot.  Pieces of polyester and cotton are found in over 100 chicken baskets across Iowa City.  Upon questioning, it is learned the local franchise owner is a Spartan loyalist.  MSU 9-1.
  • 11/19. INDIANA.  MSU 42-17. New Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson, noting his team's 0-10 start, announces just prior to the Spartan game that, it won't join Minnesota in the Great West Conference.  Instead it is moving to Division II, and joining the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).  MSU 10-1.
  • 11/26.  at Northwestern.  NW 72-66.   The highest scoring game in modern history comes to a close in sub-zero temperatures in suburban Chicago.  Persa throws for 700 yards, Cousins for 600, and the game lasts for six hours, and 5 OTs.  Persa gets the better of Cousins, but doesn't spoil Sparty's trip to the Big Ten title game, as it wins the Legends Division with a 6-2/4-1 mark.  MSU 10-2.
  • 12/3.  vs. Wisconsin, Big Ten Title Game.  MSU 24-23.  Captain Kirk leads a last second drive to score a TD and take the Big Ten crow, with Sparty defeating Wisky when it really matters, at the Big Ten championship...  As Freddy Kreuger would say... "What a RUSH!"  MSU 11-2
OK, so there you have it, 11-2/6-2/4-1 record.  On paper, Michigan State should be as good as any team in the conference.  Maybe they beat Northwestern but lose at Nebraska; Maybe they lose to Wisconsin, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Iowa.  OK.  But, the ES hopes he is wrong, and that the Big Green can win their entire slate at home  for a second consecutive year, especially with wins at Nebraska and Ohio State.  The NW game is tricky, that team has really spellbound the Spartans in recent years.  But, a shoot-out seems realistic.  The ES will take 11-2... but 13-0 seems a whole lot more fun.  And, just making it to the Big Ten title game would be FANTASTIC. 

See you in Spartan Stadium on Friday evening.  Go SPARTANS!