Enlightened Spartan Preview: #5 Mich State vs Penn State The Enlightened Spartan: Enlightened Spartan Preview: #5 Mich State vs Penn State

Friday, November 27, 2015

Enlightened Spartan Preview: #5 Mich State vs Penn State

This is what awaits Quackenberg... 
Sagarin Ratings:  MSU #15, Penn State #42

MSU: 10-1/6-1. Penn St:  7-3/4-3
Saturday, November 28, 2015. 3:30 pm ET.
Spartan Stadium, Columbus, OH
Weather: 40 degrees, cloudy, winds 5-10 mph
Line:  Big Green favored by 11

The ES actually recorded a preview in Chicago... but the audio petered out.  So, here we are with our standard preview.  Hope to be back next week with a preview of the Big Ten Title game... IF WE BEAT PENN STATE

Penn State has a very good defense, but their offensive line is atrocious.  And, the Lion QB Hackenberg has been hammered all year - he only passed for 130-odd yards against Michigan last week on 13-32 (40%) passing... and yet PSU still hung around, trailing by only five points (21-16) midway through the fourth. 

But, Michigan State seems to be back with a force in the trenches... with a completely healthy offensive line and defensive line.  It showed in the total domination of the Ohio State interior.  Spartan defense allowed only 123 total yards to the Buckeyes, while rolling up 203 on the ground against OSU.  The surprise was the solid play of backup QBs Tyler O'Connor and Damien Terry, who filled in for our star QB, Connor Cook.  Each made a mistake, but for the most part ran a very, very well called game by the Spartan coaching staff: a combined 8-16 for 91 yards, 1 TD; better yet, a combined 16 carries for 50 yards.  And, allowing only 5 Buckeye first downs while the Spartans possessed the ball for 38+ minutes?  Domination. 

The refs?  If they did not allow the force-out-of-bounds by Aaron Burbridge that led to a 36 yard completion from Tyler O'Connor - the longest pass of the game on either side - I would have gone ballistic (considering how MSU was screwed at the end of the Nebraska game).  But, the Big Ten crew allowed it, and it was a different crew than what the Big Green has faced this year.  With the football gods on our side, MSU ended up scoring on the drive.  

Bottom line, it is amazing how well you can accomplish a task when you have the right tools: namely, your best, healthy players. 

MSU doesn't need to get fancy against the Lions.  As long as the boys play inspired in the trenches, it should wear down PSU as the game goes on.  I would expect to see a bit more of a passing game out of MSU - whether it is Cook or not.  Regardless, I find it difficult to fathom how the Lion offense will be able to stop the flood of the MSU defense pouring in on Hackenberg - and the repositioning of the MSU defensive backfield with the addition of Darian Hicks helping to create better pass coverage.  

With so much on the line - a trip to the Big Ten title, potential trip to the College Football Playoff. And, Michigan State's coaching has been, for the most part this season, very good.  

Predictions:  ChiSpartan:  MSU (with Cook) 34-21; (without Cook) 24-21.  EnlightenedSpartan:  MSU 31-13.    

If the Spartans win, a variety of scenarios are set up for the Big Ten title vs Iowa - read here.

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