Thursday, December 30, 2021

ES Preview: Peach Bowl vs Narduzzis

 #10 (10-2/7-2 Michigan State Spartans) vs #12 Pittsburgh Panthers (11-2, ACC Champs)

Thursday, December 30, 2021. 7 pm.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA. TV: ESPN
Weather: Dome doesn’t matter; outside it’ll be 66 & cloudy, 25% chance rain

Sagarin Ratings: MSU #24, Pitt #14
Line Outta Vegas: MSU by 3

Times, up, Fighting Narduzzis. Finally, its time you face a REAL opponent, and not the weak ACC hoopsters on graas.

Welcome to the world of Pat Narduzzi, the former extraordinaire D-Coord for the Spartans, coaching the upstart Pittsburgh Panthers in their best season since an 11-1 record as an independent under legendary coach Jackie Sherrill in 1981.

Damn Good Defensive Genius, was Narduzzi for the No-Fly-Zone Spartans.

ES doesn’t know much about the Fighting Narduzzis, other than their best player, Kenny Pickett, split for the NFL, much like Spartan RB Kenneth Walker III did the same. With both teams not featuring its best player, who does the loss hurt most? Always losing your QB, the field general, hurts more. Plus, MSU running backs Eliajah Collins, Jordan Simmons, and Harold Joiner are still a decent and very capable trio. In addtion, with Jalen Nailor returning at wideout, MSU’s passing game should be high-flying with Thorne to Nailor, Jayden Reed, Tre Mosley… not to mention the oft-used Connor Heyward at TE.

The problem, as usual, will be the Spartan defense: are they capable of giving up less than 300 yards through the air, or be torched in a loss once again? Will it be bend-but-dont-break with the occasionaly, timely turnover for the Spartan D, or the Pittsburgh offense scoring at will through the air?

Let’s see some stats, briefly (significant advantage in bold italics):

CategoryMSU offense (rank)Pitt defense (rank)
Pass Yards245.3 (40th)257.4 (106th)
Passing (C-I-Int-Yds)214-350-2944 (24 tds)273-456-15-3346 (23 tds)
Rush Yards185.6 (42nd)91.8 ypg (6th)
Scoring Offense31.9 (40th)23.1 ppg (39th)
3rd Down Pct.39% (75th)32% (8th)
 MSU defense (rank)Pitt offense (rank)
Pass Yards330.7 (130th)305.2 ypg (5th)
Passing (C-I-Int-Yds)364-556-4052 (26 tds)351-521-7-4553 (43 tds)
Rush Yards118.2 (18th)152.7 ypg (73rd)
Scoring Defense25.7 (57th)43.0 ppg (3rd)
3rd Down Pct.42% (98th)46% (17th)
 MSU (rank)Pitt (rank)
Turnover Margin0.33 (42nd)0.54 (25th)
Net punting42.7 (15th)37.9 (89th)
Punt returns19.3 (3rd)9.6 (46th)

Statistically, Pitt has the advantage from the line of scrimmage, particularly offensively through the air – though the Spartans have more balance between run and pass. MSU, meanwhile, has a huge advantage in lengthening the field and returning punts: this may be the key to the game. If MSU can once again force long drives by Pitt and the bend-but-dont-break defense makes a few timely plays, it should come out the victor. What the stats do NOT show is the quality of opponents: Pitt won the very weak ACC, but has a schedule strength of 78th according to Jeff Sagarin, while Michigan State was third in the tough Big Ten East with a schedule strength of 20th. Should be an entertaining, and tight matchup for tonights’ game.

PREDICTIONS:

Freep: Seidel, MSU 35-27; Windsor, MSU 26-23
Pitt POV: Narduzzis 35-17
Athlon: MSU 28-24
Spartan Avenue: MSU 41-27
CFN: Narduzzis, 38-34
The Athletic: MSU staff picks
Irish Breakown: MSU 37-32
LSJ: MSU 34-26
Atlanta Zoo Panda: MSU (video)

ES sez: MSU 40, Fighting Narduzzis 35. Go Big Green TD Machine!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The death of an Icon: John Madden

 Coach John Madden. The GOAT – Greatest of All Time.

I loved this roly-poly Teddy Bear of a coach. John Madden, R.I.P. He was the greatest of all time.

Today was supposed to be the ES Preview for the Peach Bowl matchup vs the Pittsburgh Panthers.  Instead, its been interrupted by devastating news. 

Rarely has the ES cried over the death of any celebrity.  Johnny Cash was one.  But, this was the big one.  John Madden has passed on. 

No one person has ever had such an instrumental impact in my love for football than Coach Madden.  As a little tike, I first was exposed to football attending a Michigan State -Ohio State stint in 1975 at Spartan Stadium (OSU won, 21-0).  I began to love the spectacle. Soon after, I moved to Northern California, as an Air Force brat, just about 30 miles outside of Oakland.  My mom attended the University of California for her masters degree, and my first ever season tickets were to the lean years of Joe Kapp and the Cal Golden Bears (1975 – 1982).  

But, what captured my love was not Cal.  It was the misfit ragtag mean-as-hell team of the Oakland Raiders, with its iconic fun, roly-poly heavy, very humorous, and talented coach John Madden.  It took all of my first year of 1975-76 watching the NFL to fall in love with football, and Madden.  His team, the Oakland Raiders, was tough, crazy, wild, and played their asses off for Madden.  I fell in love with Cliff Branch and Fred Belitnikoff at WR, Kenny Stabler at QB, Jack Tatum at DB, and the stork, Ted Hendricks at LB.  But, most of all, the sideline antics of John Madden, who lived and breathed the passion of football, caught my love and attention.  I purchased a 1976 Super Bowl pennant when the Raiders beat the Vikings, and have proudly hung it up on my walls ever since.  I even had a Raiders helmet that I wore until I grew out of it.

When he retired from the Raiders, I cried.  I was only 10, but it hurt. He was everything to me.  Then the traitor-Raiders left for LA, and I became a 49ers fan. My dad said “Well, the Raiders are gone, so I guess we’re 49ers fans now.” That’s San Francisco, the closest nearby team, with OJ Simpson playing his last year for the struggling Niners before their glory decade of the 1980s. 

Madden in the booth was GOD.  Everything he said was right.  And, he was entertaining as hell.  Just like on the field.  Madden made football easy to understand the complicated game as I grew into it.  I was a computer geek, and he led me to create my first ever computer program on a TI-99, which was a NFL-prediction program in BASIC language.  Even if the program used stats from the “Scoreboard” of the San Francisco Chronicle and punched out an odd Miami 77-25 prediction of a matchup against the New England Patriots, I would listen intently to Madden every week, watch Monday Night Football, and adjust that damn computer program accordingly. It was never accurate, but sure as hell was fun. 

The greatest broadcasting team in the history of sports. Summerall and Madden.

The John Madden-Pat Summerall duo was the best football broadcasting team in history.  The straight man, Stan Laurel (play by play) of Summerall was instantly a perfect match for the humorous and clumsy Oliver Hardy (color commentary) of John Madden.  It worked to perfection every week for 30+ years, even when Madden moved to FOX and instantly created FOX as a meaningful fourth-tv network in the early 90s, with the addition of the NFL.  It was Madden who made football easy to understand and to love. 

When Madden retired from the booth in 2009 (https://bleacherreport.com/articles/167258-john-maddens-legacy-the-face-of-the-nfl-retires), I cried again.  Here it was, my football idol of all time, leaving the game, this time for good.  Tough to live a football life without Madden in it. But, then Madden video games kept his name alive, even for generations of youngsters who never had the chance to hear or see his enthralling, boisterous years live on the gridiron or in the booth. Who is this guy, bigger than football?

Of course, Madden isn’t bigger than football.   The NFL, and college football lives on.  But, Madden WAS football.  No-one contributed more to the game than John Madden. If you named the 10-most influential people in this history of the sport, John Madden would be each spot in the top 10; everyone else was #11 or lesser.

Goodbye, Coach.  You were and are the GOAT – The Greatest of All Time. A tear of joyous memories, and your loss is football’s loss.  I’ll never forget you.  Thank you for all you’ve done for my life.  

Saturday, December 12, 2020

End this mess of 2020: Penn State

 Michigan State Spartans (2-4) at Penn State Nittany Lions (2-5)

December 12, 2020. 12:00 ET.
Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA.
TV: ABC

Weather: 44/sunny, winds 2 mph

Sagarin Ratings: MSU #64, Penn State #22 (??!)
Straight outta Vegas: Penn State by 15

Michigan State didn’t get the memo that Michigan received: to COVID it’s game against Ohio State. Instead, the Spartoonies laid a turd against the lord of Ohio, dropping 52-12 to the Buckeyes. Alas, no bowling for MSU (thankfully). Maybe there is some solace the loss by MSU will send Ohio State to the CFP, only to get its asses kicked yet again by ‘Bama. LOL.

Hopefully, Mr. T got the note: with nothing to gain, nothing to lose, in a meaningless game… play Thorne! Hand Rocky a clipboard.

Prognostications:

J Rand (Clarkston) – It’s finally going to be over. End the pain! MSU 28-24
Sloth (Pittsburgh, PA) – State is going to win!!!
Big Bob (Kalamazoo) – Jerry Sandusky 17-14 Larry Nassar
Smig (Novato, CA) Msu12 penn14
Keith (Pontiac) – 20-17 green
C Hock (SFO) – PSU 24-13
Cat (Jackson) – Irrelevant

ES Sez – JoePa 22-11. Lotsa safeties, two-pt conversions, and FGs.

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Big Green vs COVID Ohio

 Michigan State Spartans (2-3) host #2 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0)

Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
December 5, 2020. 12 Noon ET.
TV: ABC
Weather: 33/cloudy, wind 6 mph

Sagarin Ratings: OSU #2, MSU #45
Straight Outta Vegas: OSU by 23-1/2

The coachless, COVID-filled Buckeyes bring in their #2 team to take on the Spartans, and are still favored by more than 3 touchdowns. Yup, Mr. T has a lot of work to do to get some respect.

Predictions:

Sloth (Pittsburgh, PA): Rona 30, Both Teams 0
Cambier (Pontiac, MI): 40-10 bucks
J Dog (Clarkston, MI): 28 – 48 Bucks
Smig (Novato, CA): 42-10 bucks
Carter (Albany, CA)/Big Bob (Kalamazoo, MI):
C – Who is not playing for the Bucks? Could this make a difference?
Big Bob – Kirk Herbstreit
C- Oh….he is one of their best players! Maybe MSU has a chance….
Big Bob – Mr. T 34-31 osu
C – MSU 35 – OSU 32
Big Bob – Yer off a point each!
C – Wow Big Bob serendipity!!!! It may be meant to be! Well….it is 2020 and MSU has
a history of beating OSU when they are highly ranked!!!
C Hock (SFO, CA) – you guys are both smoking dope
Smig – Quit blowing each other
C Hock – MSU 6 vs Ohio State 38
Kat (Texas) – who cares?
ES Sez (Converse, TX) – Ohio State 27, MSU 17

Saturday, November 28, 2020

ES Game Day: Fitz v Mr T.

 Michigan State Spartans (1-3) vs #8 Northwestern Wildcats (5-0)

November 28, 2020. 12 noon ET. CHANGED LAST MINUTE TO 3:30 PM ET.
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI.
TV: ESPN.
Weather: 40/sunny.

Sagarin Ratings: MSU #38, Northwestern #8
Straight outta Vegas: Fitzgerald by 2 TDs (13)

COVID status: Unfortunately, COVID has not yet hit the Spartan footballers hard enough. So, we must witness this one. Praise the good man above that Rocky is wiping the benches today. Otherwise, this could get ugly…

Predictions:

Carter (Albany, CA): 45-7 NW
J Dog (Clarkston): NW /MSU has always been a Freakshow. So I’m going 13 MSU – 10 NW
Smig, Tom Waits’ Neighbor (Novato, CA): Nw27 mSU 10
Big Bob (Kalamazoo): 34-17 Northwestern
Keith (Pontiac): Slaughter 30-10 nw
Sloth (Pittsburgh, PA): Boredom
C Hock (SFO): MSU 28-24
Kat (Jackson): COVID 10, Big Ten 0. COVID wins the Big Ten championship

The ES sez (Jackson): Fitz 17, Mr T. 13

Saturday, November 14, 2020

ES Game Day Preview: Sparty hosts Indy

 Michigan State Spartans (1-2) hosts, yes, #10 Indiana Hoosiers (3-0)

November 14, 2020. 12 Noon ET.
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
ABC TV
Weather: 40/sunny, 10 mph winds

Sagarin Ratings: MSU #66, Indiana #17
Straight Outta Vegas: Indiana by 7

Predictions?

Sloth: A game worth napping through
Aussie Paul: MSU upsets Indy, 28-20
Cat: Indy 34-17
C Hock: Indy 24-21
Big Bob: Hoosier Daddy? 45-28 MSU
Keith: 50-13 Indians
Smig: 35-14 rednecks
ES sez: I see an upset brewing… to Indiana? Tough to understand that. Time to see what Mr. T is made of. MSU wins, 20-19

Saturday, November 07, 2020

ES Game Day: Sparty @ Iowa

 Michigan State Spartans (1-1) at Iowa Hawkeyes (0-2)

Kinnick Stadium
Iowa City, Iowa
November 7, 2020. 12 Noon ET.
TV: ESPN
Weather: 70, sunny.

Sagarin Ratings: MSU #75, Iowa #55
Skinny from Vegas: Iowa by 6.5

Predictions??

Cat: MSU 24-21 (OT)
Smig: Iowa 32-24
J Dog: MSU 28-21
Sloth: Chikenhawks 21, Tuckers 17
Chock: Iowa 20-17
Big Bob: Iowa 70-13
ES Sez… MSU 20, Iowa 18

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Jim Harbaugh is the GREATEST coach of all-time

 MSU 27, UM 24: The ES is gushing about the magnificent performance of the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday, understanding the Armageddon (link here) that the Spartan footballers unleashed courtesy of Mr. T. The best quote from MGoBlog… : “This looked like a game in which UM believed the hype about itself and MSU played the little brother card perfectly, played their ass off for 4 quarters, and won. “

Enjoy the Michigan faithful finally realizing that Harbaugh isn’t the savior after all; that Michigan will be a wannabe as long as their Jesus is around. But, a contract extension is on the horizon. Hallelujah!  

Here is a post from MGoBlog in 2014 on the hire of Harbaugh:

Link. “As I was watching the press conference announcing Jim Harbaugh as the new coach, I started thinking that Mark Schlissel really turned a potential disaster into a home run.  This has been said on here before, but I believe it is worth repeating.  Getting Harbaugh was a coup of the first order.”

And one of many threads from 2014:

Now, today. Six years later, after the $60-million man sans khakis has disappointed, let the good times roll, courtesy of MGoBlog.com… just click away and gush in all that we know as the Spartan Nation:

https://mgoblog.com/mgoboard
https://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/morning-after-2
https://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/michigan-state-snowflakes-coaching-1
https://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/michigan-state-snowflakes-defense-2

1 – “Fire them all. The program is a laughingstock. The fanbase is in turmoil. There’s no hope of becoming relevant in the near future.“

2 – “Yep, yesterday was it for me. No way possible to lose that game and recover. Out coached too many times to count now. I doubt anything will change except the fact that UM is a Basketball school now”

3 – “Harbaugh must go. The sooner the better.”

4 – “For me, Michigan football is my fall passion and it has gotten to a point where I cannot even enjoy Saturdays. Don Brown is awful, but he is a symptom of Jim Harbaugh losing touch about what wins in College football.”

5 – “Exactly the same. If anything, I’m more convinced this guy will never win here”

6 – “Into year six all he has done is bring the program back to decency. He does not have a signature win to hang his hat on, and this team is light years from competing for any type of championship.”

7 – “Because harbaugh sucks. Next question “

8 – “These BS excuses always leave the fact out that we were poorly coached team, who doesn’t develop its players.  That is the real problem.”

9 – “I don’t know. Sometimes it is just fate. “

10 – “And sometimes it’s the head coach and the environment he creates and maintains.”

11 – “I am not disagreeing with you that our program sucks right now. Today was an absolute embarrassment and I am not sure why I continue put myself through this every year.”

Friday, October 30, 2020

ES Gameday Preview: Mr. T vs Jesus

 Michigan State Spartans (0-1) at #13 Michigan (1-0)

Halloween, October 31, 2020. 12 Noon ET.
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
TV: Fox
Weather: 42, sunny. Wind: 10 mph

Sagarin Ratings: MSU #83, Michigan #8
Straight outta Vegas: Michigan by 21-1/2

Well, here we are. The big game. MSU’s best chance was for the entire team to catch COVID. Unfortunately, the Spartans can’t even catch a virus. After giving the ball away not five, not six, but seven times to lowly New Jersey State University (actually it was 8, but a penalty wiped out one of the giveaways), the Big Green has to find a way to fix things real quick. Mr. T’s preseason goal to make it to the Quick Lane Bowl, RedBox Bowl, or Fenway Bowl are no longer options, canceled due to the COVID — so we need to find a way to get to 6 or 7 wins to play in the Poulan WeedEater Bowl. It’s said that teams improve the most between game one and game two – unfortunately, there are two teams playing today… Alas, not much hope in Mudville this season.

Chalk this one up to Jesus Harbaugh – the most interesting thing we can learn is… will he remember to wear his khakis today? The ES bets on the khakis.

Big Bob: Michigan 70, MSU 13
Sloth: Meatchicken 45-7
Keith: Blue 30-6
CHock: Michigan 35-6
Australian Paul: MSU 21-13
J Rand: Michigan 47-7
Kitty Cat: Michigan 42-3
ES sez: Michigan 31, Sparty 10.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Ha Ha Ha, Harbaugh: You are on your KNEES!

 OK, at first the ES was outraged.  Then, sitting next to Big Bob with mimosas and Bell’s Beer at the steady, we began to finally realize the brilliance of Mel Tucker.

This is all part of the master plan.  Let’s calm down, no worries Spartan Nation.  Getting your asses kicked is fun! Clearly we have the next $aban.  The 38 points allowed by MSU with a new coach (Tucker) in his first game was the most since his mentor, $aban, lost 50-10 to Nebraska in 1995. 

“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”  

Wow, that exactly is what we saw today in Spartan Stadium.  No passion and execution to succeed was on display by the men in green.  Ahhhh, but then we turn to Sun Tzu and realize the genius of Mr. T as we lead into our annual throwdown against the Yellow Jackets from Ann Arbor. 

Sun Tzu – “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”

We certainly deceived the enemy in Ann Arbor today.  It was pure genius; unable to attack, appearing inactive, far away from the action – that was Michigan State football in its greatest deception of the modern era.  Michigan – you have no idea the volume of destruction that is headed your way next Saturday.

Some of the action today was borderline confusing – QB Rocky Lombardi ambling along like a mentally deranged alcoholic on the gridiron, firing passes left and right for no reason.  The offensive line lacking any ability to block or “perceived” lack of ability to strike Rutgers’ iron wall defense. 

Brilliant. 

It is our ruse. Ha Ha Ha.  We got you right where we want you.  Thought you had us figured out, didn’t ya?

Next week, coach Tucker will release Armageddon.  

To quote Sun Tzu again, as is clearly coach Tucker’s strategy: “know yourself and you will win all battles.”  Oh, we Spartans know who we are.  We are proud and mighty, and a 11 point loss at home to mighty Rutgers is exactly the strategy that will bring your savior Jesus Harbaugh to his knees. 

See you next week.  Rest well, little people in Ann Arbor.  The time is ‘nigh. Grab your spears and pitchforks. We’re coming!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

ES Preview: Mel Tucker hosts Greg Schiano

 We have new coaches for today’s Michigan State vs Rutgers matchup. Mel Tucker (5-7, Colorado) takes over for MSU. Greg Schiano (11-21 NFL Tampa Bay, 68-67 Rutgers) returns to New Jersey. Here’s the skinny:


Michigan State Spartans (0-0) vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights (0-0)
October 24, 2020. East Lansing, MI. 12 noon.
COVID tests: Who knows? It’s a secret.
Weather: 40/sunny, 5 mph wind.
TV: Big Ten Network

Sagarin Ratings: MSU #43, Rutgers #114
Line outta Vegas: MSU favored by 11

CHock: MSU 24-17
Big Bob: MSU 27-14
Keith: MSU 20-17
Cat: MSU 21-3
ES sez: MSU 27-26