#24 Michigan State Spartans (7-1, 4-0) host #23 Michigan Wolverines (6-1, 2-1)
Time: 3:30 pm ET
Location: Spartan Stadium, E.L.
Weather: 47 and sunny with a chance of light showers.
Line: MSU by 6
Predictions - even though a tight game, all favor Michigan State. Amazing:
- Rod @ PeanutBarrel, MSU 35-30
- Freep.com: Rexrode, MSU 24-16; Snyder, MSU 21-17; Sharp, MSU 15-9; Seidel, MSU 17-14
- ESPN.com: Bennett, MSU 17-14; Rittenberg, MSU 21-17
- CBSSports.com: Against the spread, all six pick MSU -4.5
- CBSSports.com: Feldman, MSU 17-10
- CFN/Scout: MSU, 24-17
- International Business Times (?): MSU 35-30
- BTN Twitter Poll: 73-27% MSU (as of 10/31, 11 pm)
- BTN.com: Bardo, MSU 24-21; Merriman, MSU 24-17; Yarina, MSU 24-17; Dienhart, MSU 21-13
- Mlive.com: MSU 23-17. Mlive.com bloggers: Nick, MSU 16-13; Mike, MSU 27-20
- Rantsports.com: MSU
- Fox Sports CFB via WhatIfSports: MSU 22-21
- Prediction Tracker: MSU +4.52
- Athlon: Gall, MSU 24-21; Light, MSU 24-14; Lassan, MSU 27-24; Fox, MSU 24-17
- NewsOK (Oklahoma): MSU 21-20
ES sez: The Michigan State Spartans are going to pound the Wolverines into the ground. The Big Green will plant Wolverine QB Devin Gardner like a potato - shove him into the ground, scrape dirt over him, and stomp on him. It will be a thing of beauty to watch him run for his life all game long, as that relentless Spartan defensive press from Denicos Allen, Shalique Calhoun, and Marcus Rush breaks him in two like it would a toothpick. Gardner will be pressed to throw the ball often, and Spartan DBs Isiah Lewis and Trae Waynes will be forced to make plays and solid tackles. Expect it to happen, as it has all year long. The Michigan Wolverines will be running right into a brick wall playing against the best Spartan defense in my 45 years of life.
Two defensive concerns for the Spartans: (1) MSU has started slowly recently, giving up big plays to both Illinois and Purdue, early. But, the Spartans rebounded in the same drive to minimize the damage; such play would prove costly vs Michigan. (2) Historically, Michigan vs MSU has been all about UM making (or failing to make) the big play. This will be significant again if Gardner is given time; the ES doubts Gardner will find much time, but funnier things have happened. Note: Michigan RB Touissant will be a non-factor for Michigan. He's just not good enough.
The only offensive concern: Connor Cook. Is he the stellar 15-16 QB vs Illinois, or the mediocre 13-25 QB vs Purdue? The ES expects him to be somewhere in the middle... which should be enough. Michigan's defense will bottle up the run early in the game and force Cook to make throws, and for the Spartan wideouts to catch those passes to extend drives. If MSU can hit a few big passes early, the offensive line should be able to use its running game to handle Michigan similar to what Indiana did to Michigan in piling up 162 rushing yards on the ground.
On special teams, the Spartans are on the verge of a breakout: not from punter Mike Sadler, who is brilliant in booting 50+ yard punts when necessary (69 long this year), or dropping punts inside the 20 (he has 19 of 42 punts, or 45% downed inside the 20!!!!). And, the breakout won't be from the kicker we've already found, Michael Geiger, who has hit on 6-of-7, including 3-of-3 outside of 40 yards. Rather, there will be a breakout from Andre Sims (long 33) or Macgarret Kings (long 30), either are due to bust out a punt return for a score.
Bottom line: Connor Cook is improving; so is Gardner... but Cook merely needs to be serviceable and to minimize his mistakes. Gardner needs to be all-world to give Michigan a chance. The Spartan offensive line is playing very well, and opening up holes for both Langford and Williams to exploit with a good running game. MSU coaches need to give Cook the chance to use play action, not mess up good, sustaining drives with "outsmarting-ourselves"-John-L-Smith-like-playcalling, and to mix things up equitably. Michigan State's defense is the most consistent group outside of the Baylor offense - playing at a near-perfect, high level in every game this season. This MSU defense has a consistently high caliber of play from the trenches, to the backers, to the backfield. Brings a tear to mine eye just to watch that gorgeous straitjacket of a defense play every week.
The winner of this game has the most rushing yards for something like 27 of the last 30 games. If Michigan gets more than 100 yards rushing, shoot me. But, the Spartans should rush for at least 125 yards. POUND GREEN POUND. Expect this trend to continue with a significant advantage to Michigan State. Watch the Spartans score on defense again as well.. why? Well, why not.
FYI - Love this article on the history of the life and defensive brilliance of Pat Narduzzi.
I CAN'T WAIT TO GO TO THIS GAME!!!! THE ES IS ALL JACKED UP!!!! Doug Toma - I'm thinking of you!
ES sez: MSU 27, Michigan 17.