Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Donovan Warren = AA. Arrogant Ass

Michigan Arrogant Asses Personified: Exhibit 1. scUM CB Donovan Warren: "we are still Michigan and this is our state.” You read that Kirk Cousins? Time to LIGHT HIM UP!

Other notes for Michigan State v scUM:
College Football News experts: 4 of 5 pick MSU, CBSSports gives a bland preview, Bleacher Report provides three keys to victory for both teams, notes from Dick Rod that "Michigan won't have a full walk-through Friday when it arrives in East Lansing for its first road game of the season", SpartyMSU predicts a scUM "will be beaten this week", Freep's Shannon Shelton talks about MD closing practice to "pesky reporters"... more later.

ES previews Big Ten games for Week 5

The ES prognosticates about this week's Big Ten stints:

scUM at Michigan State (-2): The ES was very bearish on the Spartans after the Wisky game... but then reading all the smacktalk from the Yellow Bellies and looking at their pink-ish schedule definitely makes the ES bullish. Take the Spartoonies.

Northwestern at Purdon't (-8): A 24-21 Boiler effort against the Irish puzzles the ES. But, the ES still shakes his head at the Cats losing to Syracuse. Take the Boilers.

Wisky at Minny (-3): The Gopher homefield doesn't look so homey after their 14-point loss to Cal, then Cal getting the shit knocked out of them (42-3) at Oregon. Take Wisky.

Joe Pa (-4) at Illinois: Illinois sucks; Joe Pa is good... it's just that Iowa is better. Take the Old Man.

Ohio State (-17.5) at Indiana. Ohio State is, get this, 45-2-2 in the last 50 years over Indiana. That is a ridiculous 92% win percentage. Indiana last beat Ohio State in 1987 and 1988. They may be improved this year, but not enough to overcome history. Take the Buckeyes.

Arkansas State at Iowa (-21.5). Wonder who?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MSU now -2 over scUM

Wow, now Michigan State is favored by 2 over scUM. I guess the "hate" speech is gettin' to the bookies. The guys over at ain't buying it - they're taking the Wolvies. FYI - you need tickets? The ES can link you to some MSU vs UM tickets...

Weather for Saturday: Cloudy with a 40 percent chance of rain showers. Highs around 60. Bring your poncho.


Feel the hate... there's lots of hate of scUM to spread around. The ES is oft-criticized by fellow citizens, and even fellow (though, obviously, not very important) members of the Spartan Nation, for his outspoken and consistent hatred of the scUM Yellow Bellies. And, why else all the hate mail and rage from the lowly Ann Arbor-ite blogs this time of year?

World masses, the ES ain't alone... the soldiers in Green and White share their hatred as well. As often stated, unless you're Brent Muskyberger, a Michigan alum, or lazy-white-trailer-trash-settlin'-for-Blue&Gold-on-tv-instead-of-gettin'-a-degree, you hate them Yellow Bellies too. Yes, just about everyone hates arrogant scUM. As Spartan DE Trevor Anderson says, "it's sickening."

Join the national movement - everybody's doing it. Hate the Michigan Wolverines.

Schedule strength: MSU #32, scUM #105

Now, why would a 1-3 Michigan State team at all be favored over a #22, 4-0 Michigan Yellow Belly team? The ES looks a bit deeper into the OPPONENTS PLAYED to get a better sense at where these teams stand heading into rivalry weekend. Again, this early in the season, the ES uses Sagarin rankings because not only do they rank every team, but also every Division I-FCS and FBS team; Sagarin is also a component in the BCS rankings, as if that matters.

Michigan State is #59 in the Sagarin rankings. scUM is #30.

Michigan State schedule ranking is #32, with a 71.7 score:
Montana State (home): #141, W.
Central Michigan (home): #57, L.
Notre Dame (away): #32, L.
Wisconsin (away): #31, L.

scUM schedule ranking is #105, with a 63.9 score:
Western Michigan (home): #90, W.
Notre Dame (home): #32, W.
Eastern Michigan (home): #159, W.
Indiana (home): #68, W.

Summary: Both teams played Notre Dame about even, with the W to Michigan's home field. MSU played CMU to within one point and lost; Michigan beat Indiana by three. Both teams pounded the worst team on their schedule (Montana State, EMU). Michigan handled WMU easily at home; the Spartans laid an egg on the road at Wisconsin.

A big edge in this game goes to Spartan Stadium and MSU's home field, as scUM has not yet traveled away from The Hole in the Ground this year. The rockin' nature of the Big Green Stadium will certainly rattle Mr. Forcier and his sore shoulder this week.

INJURIES ON THE FRONT LINES: The Doctor is trying to save the redshirt of several freshmen, but injuries and ineffectiveness on the offensive and defensive lines may lead to MD playing Henry Conway at offensive tackle and Blake Treadwell in a pass rush situation. LG Joel Foreman is questionable (ankle); OT J'Michael Deane (leg) is questionable.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Reversal: MSU now favored by 1 over scUM

Funny what a day might do... the betting lines out of Las Vegas have shifted to Michigan State's favor over the Michigan Yellow Bellies this week - Caesars/Harrah's has MSU favored by 1; the Las Vegas Hilton has the Big Green favored by 1.5; all the rest have it an even/pick 'em spread.

When were the Spartans last favored in the series while scUM was the only ranked team of the two? Has it EVER happened? Obviously, the bookies are giving the Spartans the nod via their home field as an advantage, scUM with the weaker schedule, and the "sore shoulder" status of scUM QB Tate Forcier....

scUM favored by 1 over Michigan State

Early movements out of Leroy's Casino in Las Vegas point to scUM as a slim, 1-point favorite over your Same Old Spartans. Purdue is favored by 8 at home over Northwestern; Minnesota is favored by 3 at home over Wisconsin; JoePa is favored by 4 at Illinois: Ohio State is favored by 17.5 at Indiana; Iowa by 21.5 at home over Arkansas State.... and, Notre Dame is favored by 13.5 at home over Washington.

Your national AP poll this week:

1Florida (55)4-01490
2Texas (1)4-01420
3Alabama (4)4-01400
5Boise State4-01203
6Virginia Tech3-11190
9Ohio State3-1957
14Oklahoma State3-1591
15Penn State3-1470
17Miami (FL)2-1452
20Brigham Young3-1349
25Georgia Tech3-1185

Dropped from rankings: Florida State 18, North Carolina 22

Others receiving votes: Missouri 175, Auburn 171, South Carolina 154, South Florida 145, UCLA 41, Utah 25, Wisconsin 20, Notre Dame 7, Arizona State 4, Stanford 2, North Carolina 2,

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Same Old Spartans? YES

Mark Dantonio has a lot to respond to this week on behalf of his team, in response to its 38-30 worse-than-the-score-indicates whipping at Wisconsin.

At the beginning of the year, MD said "we'll see how this team can handle success." Well, we have our answer: They can't handle it. After a 9-4 season a year ago, MSU now is taking steps backward every week, with MSU looking its worst this year in the loss to the Badgers.

Not taking anything away from Wisky, which pounded MSU with authority and took advantage of the MSU secondary. MSU pass defense now has a target on its back as an incompetent, clueless, and unemotional secondary without confidence. It is the worst in the Big Ten, and it is costing MSU. Trenton Robinson? He must be benched, he has played AWFUL. But, the rest of the secondary isn't much better; and it doesn't help without any pass rush. Bottom line, Narduzzi (D-coord) is being paid too handsomely for this group to SUCK THIS BAD. MSU defense stinks. It's a shock.

The play of the game? Dantonio taking out Kirk Cousins in the first half and replacing him with Keith Nichol the drive after Cousins took MSU 64 yards in 9 plays for a TD. Moronic; imbicile; and reminiscent of John L Smith - idiotic. Why take out someone that was just getting into rhythm? It cost MSU dearly, with Nichol's subsequent interception leading to another WIS TD. It reminded the ES of MSU botching the FG unit in its upset-bid-but-loss at Ohio State under John L Smith 4 years ago. That spelled doom for the JLS era, and you wonder if the same will occur with Dantonio. What really was upsetting about it was that Dantonio obviously was playing to his script ("we must get him into the game sometime, don't we?") instead of paying attention to what was going on the field. Very JLS and BW-like. And, very, very stupid. He knows better, and the ES holds him accountable.

OK - the rest of the game? It was already lost. After that bumbling, MSU's offense couldn't keep up with Wisconsin, regardless of the free 2 TDs at the end of the game, when the game was out of reach. And, the defense had no answer. My dead grandma could cover a corner better than either Jeremy Ware, Chris Rucker, or Kendall Davis-Clark. At least grandma had some balls and confidence.

Bottom line? MSU is the second-worst team in the Big Ten right now, behind Purdue. This season, the worsening performance on the field (particluarly the lack of competitiveness in the secondary) is eerily reminiscent of BW's 2002 team, the last time Michigan State was picked to finish 3rd in the conference. MSU beat crappy EMU and Rice teams, then lost to a supposedly crappy Cal team, lost a heartbreaker to ND, then beat NW before getting destroyed at Iowa, home to Minny, and Wisky... it was a team that failed to execute. We have the same team this year. Yes, this is the Same Old Spartans.

Dantonio, coaching staff, alumni, students, players, others. You want to prove me wrong? Then go ahead, DO IT ON THE FIELD. Bottom line, like BW and JLS, this team IS getting worse as the season goes on, and MSU is 1-3 right now. Let's get real: Michigan State sucks. This team is lost, has no confidence, and can't even compete. This season is unfortunate and pathetic.

Dantonio should apologize and own up for this pathetic performance - if he is a defensive genius, his IQ is about 55 right now. What a nice thank you for extending his contract this year: "you're welcome." Makes Mark Hollis look like a moron.

Are these the Same Old Spartans? They certainly are playing like it. They're a bunch of bumbling idiots.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Michigan State vs Wisconsin Live Chat

OK - below is a live chat for the Michigan State - Wisky mixer. Feel free to chime in however you like with the ES.

MSU vs Wisconsin: September 26, 2009. 12 Noon.
Weather: 67, sunny/rain by 4th quarter.
TV: ESPN. Webcam of Fountain on UW campus.

More previews: ES Game Day (MSU 31-21), Harmon Forecast (WIS 34-28), Free Press (MSU 34-31), Athlon (MSU 28-13), (WIS 31-24), Sporting News (MSU 23-21), Yahoo (MSU 30-24)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More MSU - Wisconsin Previews

More Previews in addition to what I list below, are trending toward the Spartans at this point: SpartyMSU (MSU 28-15), Bleacher Report (WIS 26-24), ESPN/Adam Rittenberg (MSU 30-27), Sports Chat Place (MSU by 3), Freep/Shannon Shelton (MSU by 3)... come back here as I add more.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ES Game Day Preview: Michigan State 31, Wisconsin 21

Michigan State (1-2, #78 Sagarin) at Wisconsin (3-0, #16 Sagarin)

Saturday, September 26. 12:00 pm noon EST.
Weather: 67, rain.
Latest Line: Wisconsin favored by 3.
Tickets available.

Injuries: Michigan State — C Joel Nitchman (knee), probable; LG Joel Foreman (ankle), questionable; RG J'Michael Deane (leg), doutful. Wisconsin — RG Bill Nagy (heel), probable; C John Moffitt (pectoral muscle), probable; C Travis Frederick (ankle), probable; DE Louiz Nzegwu (shoulder), probable; DE Brendan Kelly (groin), questionable; S Shane Carter (suspension), out; S Aubrey Pleasant (suspension), out.

MSU Roster Shakeup: First off, let's see the o-line shakeup for MSU. On the OLine, last week it was Cironi-Foreman-Stipek-Deane-Moss. This week, it's Cironi-Ruhland-Nitchman-Moss-Young. Addition of Nichman = Yeah; Loss of Deane & Foreman = Boo. And, Moss is moving further inside. On defense, the secondary has moved around a bit (in comes Davis-Clark, up the ladder moves Adams, down goes Rucker), but why Robinson continues to get the nod after his shitty performance vs. ND is beyond the ES.

ES predicts Michigan State 31, Wisconsin 21.

On offense, MSU seemingly has established itself with a capable running game with Caulton Ray and Larry Caper, and a very good passing game behind a Joe Montana-ish type accuracy of Kirk Cousins. Funny, Bleacher Report erroneously mentions Cousins mainly throws to two targets as a Wisconsin advantage by taking season statistics in aggregate, without realizing that Cousins actually DOES spread the ball around quite frequently (seven receivers caught passes at ND). MSU boasts four significant receiving threats in White, Cunningham, Dell, and Gantt. Sorry, B/R didn't do their homework - advantage MSU! The offensive line has been oft-injured, but played well beyond expectations. Wideouts had a great performance at Notre Dame, making great grabs and big plays all game long. The Wisconsin defense statistically seems similar to the Irish, giving up decent amounts through the air and land; but, they've played nobody (see below), so it is tough to tell what they hell they're made of.

On defense, MSU is hemorrhaging in its secondary - by far the biggest surprise and biggest disappointment in the Big Ten so far this year. What was to be a strength is seemingly a glaring weakness of lack of confidence. For the most part, Trenton Robinson has played poorly, as has Chris Rucker and Danny Fortener and Marcus Hyde. They all seem lost with passes zinging all around them, not to mention missed tackles. The rush defense has been good, and has made life tough with hard hitting vs the first three opponents (ND used its direct snap formation to break loose Armando Allen, though he had no major gains). Spartan LBs are playing well, now that Brandon Denson has taken a seat. The Spartan pass rush is largely ineffective so far without a blitz, which mean DBs need to make plays. Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema ain't happy with their running game, even though they piled up over 200 yards on the ground last week. Wisconsin backs John Clay and Zach Brown statistically are solid: Clay had four fumbles last week vs. Wofford while Brown was 12-63, but the week before vs Fresno State Clay ran for 143 yards on 21 carries (6.8 avg), including a 72 yard TD. ES figures our D-line will likely keep this somewhat in check, similar to the ND game around 120-130 yards, which will force WIS to go through the air. QB Scott Tolzien has been untested this year, period. His defensive competition has been nil; he should get a faceful and mouthful of Spartans this week, and likely he'll be rattled by an improved and determined Spartan secondary coverage. We ain't Fresno State. The ES expects at least 2 interceptions this week, or more, off of Tolzien. Note: Wisky was just 5-13 on third downs vs Fresno.

Special teams seems to be the Spartans' strength so far. Aaron Bates is kicking deep when asked, and has pinned punts, when asked. Brett Swenon has been very accurate (though MD should have called a timeout on Swenson's rushed, but barely-missed 52 yarder). Punt and kick coverage has been good, though we can kick the ball a bit deeper. Glenn Winston and Keshawn Martin have been excitingly close to busting loose with a TD return. For Wisconsin, their return game is nothing to brag about, averaging just 21 on kick returns and 8 on punt returns vs weak competition thus far. Their kicker, Philip Welch, is just 3-of-6 so far this year, and their net punting ranks 75th in the land. Huge advantage to MSU.

Opponents faced: Both teams whipped opponents out of their division (MSU over Montana State, Wisky over Wofford). Both teams faced a MAC opponent, with MSU losing to MAC-champion contender CMU while Wisky squeaked by MAC-midtier Northern Illinois. MSU lost at a tough annual rival, Notre Dame; it took Wisky 2 OTs at home to beat a Fresno State team blitzed by Boise State. Certainly, it is tough to tell how Wisconsin stacks up, while MSU has already encountered good competition and adversity. This should be a major advantage for the Spartans, and the Badgers can expect to see a can of whoop-ass opened up on Saturday by MSU. We're hungry, and we'll play extremely physical.

Actually, the ES feels comfortable about this game. I see Michigan State as a better matchup this week vs Wisconsin than last week vs ND with our defense facing a more typical offensive set; the balanced offense by Wisconsin should relieve some pressure off the Spartan secondary, and allow it to make plays (and INTs) against the Badgers. Kirk Cousins should rebound from last week, and he showed he has amazing, All-America capability in that arm with a very efficient receiving corps. Cousins should take advantage of a Wisconsin secondary that isn't as talented as the Irish. I don't expect the Spartan run game to be as effective this week, but a 120+ yard team effort is likely, and would be a solid contribution. Wisconsin will play a physical defense, as expected, but not outplay the Spartans as they did last year (and lost). Expect the Spartan defense to play better and for it to make enough plays to be a difference-maker. Michigan State is far above the caliber the Badgers have played so far, and it will show as the game wears on.

Halftime score: MSU 21, Wisconsin 14. Game MVP? Blair White will score 2 TDs from Kirk Cousins and have another 150 yards receiving, with 6+ catches.

Game Day Analysis on Wisconsin: USA Today, College Football News/Scout (WIS 27-23), The Sports Network (MSU 35-24), Big Ten Network (WIS 23-20), Bucky's Fifth Quarter (from WIS-WOF), Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

What do you think? What will be the game's biggest surprise? Comment Below -

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ES predicts Big Ten openers in week 4

The ES as the early prognosticator for week 4, the opening week of Big Ten Play:
  • Indiana at Michigan (-18). Both teams sit at 3-0 and aren't as good as their record indicates, but Indiana's undefeated welcome to the Big Ten season will receive a slap in the face. scUM wins, though the ES will pray otherwise.
  • Illinois at Ohio State (-15). Illinois had a week off to focus for their stint at the Horseshoe, but injuries still mount... and their play is worse. These are two teams in different leagues. Give it to the Buckeyes. Illini shall get Zookified.
  • Minny at Northwestern (-1). This ain't Jim Brown's or Ernie Davis' Syracuse - yet they beat the Wildcats last week. That's enough to give this matchup to the Gophers.
  • Iowa at Joe Pa (-11). This game will be much closer than the bookies make it. But, the Old Man will come out ahead, he won't let the Hawkeyes win two years in a row.
  • ND (-7) at Purdon't. Don't is it - Here's a Purdue squad that was squashed by NIU, and ND is just a tad better. Give it, reluctantly, to the Leprechaun.
  • Michigan State at Wisconsin (-3). The Doctor won't go 1-3, and it's time for the Spartan nation to wake up. Wisky has had poor competition so far, and should be 3-0.

MSU national stats: great pass offense, crappy pass defense

Here is your national stat picture so far, with three games under the belt. If anything is the most surprising, it is that Michigan State is leading the conference in passing offense. It's no shock that our pass efficiency defense is ranked next-to-last and our pass defense is ranked ninth.

MSU Stats
Actual Nat'l
Actual Conf
Big Ten
Conference Leader
Rushing Offense 81 127.00 Air Force 344.33 10 Michigan 270.67
Passing Offense 14 295.67 Texas Tech 444.33 1 Michigan St. 295.67
Total Offense 38 422.67 Texas A&M 589.50 6 Purdue 440.33
Scoring Offense 35 33.67 Houston 50.00 5 Michigan 38.00
Rushing Defense 25 87.00 Oklahoma 40.67 4 Penn St. 46.33
Pass Efficiency Defense 94 140.36 Arizona St. 64.46 10 Iowa 85.87
Total Defense 59 338.33 Arizona St. 149.50 7 Penn St. 212.33
Scoring Defense T-54 21.67 Oklahoma 4.67 6 Penn St. 6.67
Net Punting 7 41.90 Georgia 47.36 2 Iowa 42.86
Punt Returns 24 14.17 Louisiana Tech 45.50 1 Michigan St. 14.17
Kickoff Returns 58 22.08 Arizona St. 50.75 5 Indiana 27.33
Turnover Margin 63 .00 Arizona St. 4.00 6 Indiana 1.00
Pass Defense 94 251.33 Eastern Mich. 78.00 9 Iowa 162.67
Passing Efficiency 15 161.60 Notre Dame 186.14 2 Northwestern 164.90
Sacks 29 2.67 TCU 5.50 3 Penn St. 3.33
Tackles For Loss 87 4.67 Oklahoma 11.33 9 Penn St. 9.33
Sacks Allowed T-3 .33 Kentucky .00 1 Michigan St. .33

Get Yer Hate Michigan Gear

Yes, the ES has his Anti-scUM gear available. If you order this week, you can get delivery just in time to wear to the scUM game on October 3. Just click on each of the shirts below - this is some of the merchandise... much more is available. Enjoy! GO STATE!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Michigan State - Michigan scheduled for 12 noon on Oct. 3

The Michigan State - Michigan game will be a 12:00 noon kickoff on the Big Ten Network. MSU's losses the past two weeks certainly diminshed the "prime time" value of the game beyond a rivalry. ABC picked up the Penn State at Illinois game for 3:30 pm and Wisconsin-Minny will also be a Noon game.

The glass is half full: Michigan State must beat Wisconsin

If you watched the Notre Dame game, with a tear in your beer at the end, you could take away that the Spartans' QB, Kirk Cousins, couldn't make the play in the end that QBs need to make to win games.

You could say that this is the Same Old Spartans, pissing away another game in typical Green & White fashion, outplaying a team on the road with nothing to show for it.

You might also conclude that this is a Spartan defense that is nothing short of a sieve.

But, other than the defensive secondary hemorrhaging, the ES would disagree. Maybe I'm getting older, but the ES sees the glass as half-full instead of half-empty.

Captain Kirk had arguably one of the most amazing games by a Spartan quarterback in recent memory. For most of the game, he was unstoppable, with laser-like precision. Spartan receivers caught the ball time and again (for once), making big play after big play. Unfortunately, the worst two passes of the game, and his career, were his last two. Still, football is a TEAM game, and Captain Kirk made more plays than the entire defense COMBINED.

The positive: we've found our quarterback. He learned a lesson the hard way, but Kirk Cousins (23-35-1-302) was smoking hot, completing 10 passes in a row at one time and 8 another time in the game. Just on fire.

The ES puts the blame of the ND loss squarely on the defense. Trenton Robinson looked COMPLETELY LOST and he was burned multiple times for TDs, especially on the TD to Floyd when Robinson twiddled his thumbs in the secondary instead of rolling over to cover the deep ball when Floyd passed Eric Gordon. It was pathetic. Time to pull Robinson out of there. The secondary played better as the game went along, especially when they started to play bump-and-run... but still didn't make enough big plays; this is a DB corps that completely lacks confidence at this point. If the Spartan defense had done their part, knowing the Irish were going to throw the deep ball and making more than one play (Chris Rucker's knock away in the 4th quarter was the only good play on a deep ball all game), the Spartan offense wouldn't have to feel like it needs to do more than its part, and have all the pressure to bail the defense out time and again.

Now, the Spartans travel to Wisconsin. MSU (1-2) defeated Montana State, and lost to CMU and Notre Dame. Wisconsin (3-0) beat Fresno State in 2-OT, beat Northern Illinois with a late TD, and whipped Wofford.

Defensively, Wisconsin is giving up 164 yards a game rushing (ranked #91) and 169 yards per game passing (ranked #31) - That's 334 yards per game total on defense, ranked #55 in the country. Certainly, the Spartan offense can take advantage. Its air attack of 296 yards per game leads the Big Ten and is #14 in the nation; the 127 yards per game on the ground is #81 nationally, but at 423 yards per game (#38), the MSU offense should have the advantage here and should be able to move the ball on a defense that is eerily similar to the Irish defense.

On offense, Wisky is rushing for 199 yards per game (#32), and passing for 226 (#56); their total offense of 425 yards per game is #32 in the country. This is the problem: MSU's inability to stop the opponent passing game. Wisconsin has only given up 2 sacks this year, so it will again be a stiff test for Spartan's to get to their QB with pressure (MSU pressured Clausen better as the game wore on and had 2 sacks). MSU's rush defense is giving up just 87 yards per game on the ground, and held up fairly well to ND and Armando Allen... but Wisky is more deliberately a run team, and I suspect you'll see a more balanced attack out of Wisconsin this week. Wisconsin fumbled six (yes 6) times in their cakewalk over Wofford last week... that hopefully will be a better advantage to the Spartan defense.

Most importantly - MSU defense needs to start making plays, and getting timely turnovers. They need confidence a la Otis Wiley, and make some plays in the secondary. The time is NOW.

Make no mistake: Mark Dantonio, are you listening? MICHIGAN STATE MUST BEAT WISCONSIN. A 1-3 start would make for a potentially ruinous season. There is no longer any room for error. Michigan State is the better team - now is the time to start showing it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wisconsin favored by 3 over MSU

Latest Line from the bookies in Las Vegas: Michigan State is a 3 point underdog at Wisconsin on Saturday (kickoff slated for noon). Ohio State is favored by 15 at home over Illinois; N'western is favored by 1 at home over Minnesota. Michigan is favored by 18 at home over Indiana. JoePa is favored by 11 at home over Iowa. Notre Dame is favored by 7 at Purdon't.

For a 3-0 team like Wisconsin, the nation sure ain't buying into any long-term potential: not one single "also considered" votes for the Badgers in either the AP or USA Today Polls (OK, they got 2 votes in the USA Today poll... but point is made).

Adversity knocked the Doctor upside the head after last week's loss... this week, it's about ready to decapitate him. Let's see what he can do to get his team, and particularly the defense, to get over the hump. ES feels pretty confident in this Spartan team right now, even though they are 1-2.

If the ES were to rank the Big Ten right now (with Jeff Sagarin Rankings):

1. JoePa (3-0, all blowouts). #32 Sagarin
2. Ohio State (2-1, loss to USC). #18 Sagarin
3. Iowa (3-0, wins over Iowa St & Arizona). #7 Sagarin
4. Michigan (3-0, win over ND, two over girly-men). #29 Sagarin
5. Wisconsin (3-0, win over Fresno, two over woosies). #16 Sagarin
6. Minnesota (2-1, loss to Cal, two wins over sisters of the poor). #49 Sagarin
7. Michigan St. (1-2, loss to ND, CMU). #78 Sagarin
8. Indiana (3-0, all close wins over bad teams). #69 Sagarin
9. Illinois (1-1, blown out by Mizzou). #86 Sagarin
10. Northwestern (2-1, loss to Syracuse, barely beat EMU). #112 Sagarin
11. Purdue (1-2, loss to Oregon, Northern Illinois). #66 Sagarin.

AP Poll (week #3, September 20, 2009).

1Florida (55)3-01488
2Texas (2)3-01428
3Alabama (3)3-01390
5Penn State3-01212
8Boise State3-01038
9Miami (FL)2-0920
11Virginia Tech2-1852
13Ohio State2-1810
16Oklahoma State2-1478
18Florida State2-1363
19Brigham Young2-1349
22North Carolina3-0271

Dropped from rankings: Georgia Tech 14, Utah 18

Others receiving votes: Missouri 115, Georgia Tech 102, Auburn 100, Pittsburgh 91, UCLA 62, Iowa 39, Oregon 30, Texas Tech 19, Notre Dame 16, Utah 12, Clemson 11, Colorado State 4, Oregon State 4, South Florida 1

Saturday, September 19, 2009

MSU comes up short to the Friggin Irish

Wow, that was heartbreaking. Michigan State lost, 33-30 to Notre Dame, but clearly outplayed the Irish for the better part of the game. The interception by Cousins with :40 seconds left was unnecessary, as we were well within FG range. But as Dantonio said, if ND didn't block the extra point on MSU's previous TD, the whole scenario likely would have changed. Bottom line - Kirk Cousins played GREAT - he had an awesome game, superior to Jimmy Clausen. Captain Kirk throws the ball like a laser, and his only bad throws were his last two -- overthrowing a wide open Caper in the end zone, and then the INT. But, the ES puts this loss squarely on the defensive secondary. MSU's defense is like a sieve, and they better get their shit together in time for Big Ten season next week at Wisconsin.

The ES is disappointed, but know that Captain Kirk is our man and we need to pick up the defense ASAP. DBs need to turn around and play the ball, and play man-up instead of soft. ES is disappointed in Narduzzi and the Spartan defense.

More later - MSU may be 1-2, but there is still some confidence for the Big Ten season. MSU should beat Wisconsin next week, for sure.


FIRST DOWNS................... 27 25
Rushing..................... 5 13
Passing..................... 18 11
Penalty..................... 4 1
NET YARDS RUSHING............. 105 133
Rushing Attempts............ 25 37
Average Per Rush............ 4.2 3.6
Rushing Touchdowns.......... 2 1
Yards Gained Rushing........ 109 163
Yards Lost Rushing.......... 4 30
NET YARDS PASSING............. 354 304
Completions-Attempts-Int.... 26-40-1 24-34-1
Average Per Attempt......... 8.9 8.9
Average Per Completion...... 13.6 12.7
Passing Touchdowns.......... 2 3
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS........... 459 437
Total offense plays......... 65 71
Average Gain Per Play....... 7.1 6.2
Fumbles: Number-Lost.......... 1-1 1-0
Penalties: Number-Yards....... 6-40 11-99
PUNTS-YARDS................... 3-135 3-124
Average Yards Per Punt...... 45.0 41.3
Net Yards Per Punt.......... 37.3 41.3
Inside 20................... 2 1
50+ Yards................... 1 0
Touchbacks.................. 0 0
Fair catch.................. 1 2
KICKOFFS-YARDS................ 5-322 7-444
Average Yards Per Kickoff... 64.4 63.4
Net Yards Per Kickoff....... 39.4 41.4
Touchbacks.................. 0 0
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD. 0-0-0 2-23-0
Average Per Return.......... 0.0 11.5
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 7-154-0 5-125-0
Average Per Return.......... 22.0 25.0
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD.. 1-0-0 1-20-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD. 0-0-0 1-5-0
Miscellaneous Yards........... 0 0
Possession Time............... 25:30 34:30
1st Quarter................. 9:21 5:39
2nd Quarter................. 4:57 10:03
3rd Quarter................. 6:14 8:46
4th Quarter................. 4:58 10:02
Third-Down Conversions........ 5 of 10 5 of 11
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 0 of 0 1 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 3-4 3-3
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 2-16 0-0
PAT Kicks..................... 3-4 3-4
Field Goals................... 1-2 2-2

Live Chat: Michigan State at Notre Dame

Kickoff: 3:42 pm. TV: NBC.

Open chat below for today's game:

Predictions: ES (MSU 23- 21). LSJ: (ND 27-24) Blog Ten FB (ND 31-24). Bleacher Report (MSU). MLive (ND 34-27). Domer Sports Report (ND 31-27, 34-24). CFN (ND 34-30).

Friday, September 18, 2009


Stick IT!

ND predictions & MSU Offensive line roster update

{UPDATED AT 2:35 PM} If you didn't know, the ES posted a new poll in the right column, give your thoughts on the key ingredient to victory over the Friggin' Irish.

Looks like Joel Nitchman is a go for the offensive line at center, but J'Michael Deane is a scratch. That's an imporvement, as we really need Nitchman, but watch out for the right side of the line which has been weaker in the first two games. Add to it that Chris Norman may be getting more reps at LB after the poor play by Brandon Denson.


Big Ten Network (MSU 27-24), Chicago Tribune, ESPN/Brian Bennett (ND 28-23), SpartyMSU (MSU 34-24), SportsNetwork (ND 34-24), Wojo/Det News (ND 35-20), Rakes of Mallow, Hammer and Rails (MSU 24-21), (ND 34-23), ESPN/Adam Rittenberg (ND 28-27), Free Press (ND 28-24).

What drives me crazy about folks like Fred Bierman at the NYT is that this game "simply is a must win for the Irish." Or, ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, that the Irish "need it more." What about that other team? And not for MSU? It is that sort of disrespect that needs a slap in the face... At least the Chicago Tribune paints both sides equal.


A great, indepth article on Notre Dame CB Kyle McCarthy posted over at the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. Said Chuck E Weis: "“Kyle's been (steady) for two years. He seldom misses a tackle and he's usually in the right spot. He comes up with big plays. His interception (against Michigan) led to a score.” He wears #28.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Michigan State defense: "is it soft?"

A few more thoughts on Michigan State heading into South Bend.

If (yes, "if") Michigan State had defeated CMU, likely there wouldn't be the amount of skepticism over the Spartans as there is currently. The Chips had the better game and deserved to win; but, they needed an onside kick recovery, soft Spartan defense, and a penalty to give them another shot at the winning FG. Let's be honest: if MSU wins, maybe ND would be favored by 3 or 4, but not by 11. That's a TD difference, and the Spartans only lost by two -- this doesn't add up. Furthermore, if I remember correctly, this is a ND team that was 7-6 last year that lost to an improved, but not invincible, 3-9 Michigan team from a year ago: that game last week wasn't USC vs Ohio State: it was a hype-fest of two "storied" programs both of which have coaches on the hot-seat.

As stated earlier, I think the CMU game was our first real game of the year; we didn't learn anything vs Montana State. Now, this week, is where MSU needs to make its biggest improvement; and it has the talent to do it. When folks state the Spartan defense is "soft," at this point I'm not buying it as the m.o. for the team -- with an experienced defense, expect them to play far better... which should be an improvement over last year. It was soft (vs CMU), not is soft (I hope). Don't get me wrong, the Spartan defense didn't play up to expectations... but D-ccordinator Pat Narduzzi needs to cut them loose and Lefevour had a solid game experience the week before (at Arizona) to adjust and improve for the trip to Michigan State. Against ND, the ES expects a tenacious Spartan defense that will play better - the Spartans gave up 7 points to ND last year (both teams with roughly the same players)... and y'all think we'll give up 30 this week? ???

The Spartan offense should be the major concern: can a team (ND) giving up 170 yards a game on the ground stop a rushing game (MSU) that has been relatively ineffective (3.4 ypc against CMU)? Can the O-line open a few holes, and can the RBs hit them for some gains and take some pressure off Cousins/Nichol? Can the O-line keep the ND defensive pressure at bay, and if not, can the offense better use its talented TEs and drop the ball to RBs in the flat (unlike last week)? Having Mark Dell and Joel Nitchman back are huge pluses... and hopefully MSU can stretch the field a bit more with its wideouts. They just need to hang on to the damn ball.

That said, this game really is in the coaches hands as far as how they handle their game plan for the Irish and focus this team to play how they are expected to play. Playing ND this week is perfect: we need to see how the Doctor handles adversity, and he's got it right in his face. The ES says, BRING IT ON!

The ES doesn't read a whole lot into the Spartans having a players-only "team meeting" following the CMU debacle. That's all fine and dandy, and if that is how the captains determine they want to focus this team, then so be it. But, it isn't a panacea - rather it just shows that the players are taking ownership of the situation. They still need to block better, tackle better, catch better, and run better. A player's meeting won't fix that; but practice and focus will.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ES Game Day Preview: Michigan State 23, Notre Dame 21

Michigan State (1-1, #67 Sagarin) at Notre Dame (1-1, #32 Sagarin)

Saturday, September 19. 3:30 pm noon EST.
Weather: 74, sunny.

Injuries: Michigan State — WR Mark Dell (shoulder), probable; C Joel Nitchman (knee), questionable; RG J'Michael Deane (leg), questionable; Notre Dame — WR Michael Floyd (knee), probable; FB James Aldridge (shoulder), doubtful.

ES predicts Michigan State 23, ND 21. MVP of the game: Brett Swenson. Why? This will be a back and forth game, with the Spartans needing three clutch FGs from Swenson to come away with the victory. The ES isn't yet cashing in his chips on MSU, and he ain't sold on ND. MSU faces a more traditional offense, as does ND. Both these teams have many of the same players as last year, and enough talk out of MSU that the Spartans will be aggressive on defense. Expect the TEs on both teams to be involved: ND will combat the Spartan aggressiveness with RB screens and outlets to TEs. This means that Spartan LBs need to honest and tackle solid... which is their forte. ND wideout Michael Floyd had 15 stitches behind his knee... will that reduce his effectiveness? We shall see how the tall Spartan DBs stand up to the long ball. A good pass rush, and MSU will be fine because it will reduce pressure on all the others. This may mean blitzing is in order.

On offense, MSU needs to find a running game, and hopefully the return of Joel Nitchman and Mark Dell will lead to a more effecient MSU offense. Expect Kirk Cousins to see more playing time at QB... and better hands out of Spartan receivers when it matters (on 3rd down). MSU will involve their capable TEs after giving them a rest last week (and, subsequently, criticism for bad playcalling). I'm not convinced the Spartan running game will get any better this week even though the Irish are giving up boat loads of yards on the ground so far. But, it won't matter as much, because the game will turn into a defensive battle as the two teams dig in.

A concern is MSU not allowing long returns by ND kick returners: watch MSU make some adjustment to minimize this risk. MSU needs to reduce the stupid penalties and play aggressive. It will. MSU will be ready, and I'm getting the sense that MSU has the focus to get it done. This is the biggest test yet of the Dantonio era, and it can also be a defining test by showing Weis how to rally the troops and get it done.

Game Day Analysis on ND: USA Today, Bleacher Report (ND 34-23), Midwest Sports Fans (ND), NBC Sports (ND 30-24), Irish Sports Daily,,

What do you think? What will be the game's biggest surprise? Comment Below -

MSU, ND statistically...

About those Friggin Irish, statistically they lead the nation not giving up a sack. QB Jimmy Clausen is ranked #3 nationally in pass efficiency with a 196.31 rating. In the passing game, Michael Floyd is their home run hitter, averaging 5.5 rpg for 160 yards per game (#2 in the nation); Golden Tate is getting 6 catches per game for 87 yards. Armando Allen's 105 yards on the ground per game is #22 in the nation. DB Kyle McCarthy (#28) has a pair of picks through two games, ranking him #9 in the nation. He'll likely be placed on Blair White on Saturday.

After two games, a few Spartans are ranking near the top in national statistical rankings, most notably QB Kirk Cousins who at 186.71 is #6 in the nation in passing efficiency. Blair White is ranked #6 with 134 yards receiving per game, and #7 with 8 receptions per game. Greg Jones is ranked #3 with 14.5 tackles per game. And, with 2 tackes for loss per game, Jones is ranked 18th. Keshawn Martin is #22 in punt returns, averaging 12.3.

When MSU has the ball:
  • MSU's rushing offense is ranked #72 (138 ypg) vs ND's rushing defense #88 (172 ypg).
  • MSU's passing offense is ranked #26 (227 ypg) vs ND's pass defense #58 (197 ypg).
  • MSU's total offense is ranked #48 (405 ypg) vs ND's total defense #78 (369 ypg).
  • MSU's pass efficiency is #14 (168.7) vs ND's pass eff defense #54 (116.2).
  • MSU is #52 in kick returns (22.2), #27 in punt returns (14.2), and #4 in net punting (43.4).

When ND has the ball:
  • ND's rushing offense is ranked #54 (166 ypg) vs MSU's rushing defense #23 (64 ypg).
  • ND's passing offense is ranked #10 (334 ypg) vs MSU's pass defense #79 (225 ypg).
  • ND's total offense is ranked #17 (500 ypg) vs MSU's total defense #44 (289 ypg).
  • ND's pass efficiency is #2 (195.5) vs MSU's pass eff defense #79 (127.0).
  • ND is #10 in kick returns (30.8), #51 in punt returns (9.0), and #52 in net punting (37.4)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dantonio presser: "you have to get hits on the quarterback"

Some important takes from Dantonio as we head down to kick the Leprechaun's smelly tail...

On the Spartan Defense: "It's important for our defense to get back on track. If you look at this past week, we didn't pressure CMU enough. We couldn't get there, whatever the case was, but we didn't hit the quarterback enough. If you're going to affect the quarterback, you got to hit him more. You've got to do more in coverage. Whatever it is, you have to get hits on the quarterback. So that will be important. I'm sure we'll see screens. I'm sure we'll see all the things that they do."

On Trenton Robinson getting the starting nod at safety over Danny Fortener: "Trenton had an outstanding spring. He makes a lot of plays. He came into camp, a little short on experience. We went with the other guy because of the experience. I don't think Danny Fortener has played badly, it's Trenton has played very well and has been very active. I think he had seven solo tackles and three assists on Saturday. He's an active football player, and he combines speed with that activity."

About the Spartan OL: "Some of it can be traced back to experience both on the (right side) offensive line and at running back. I know that Larry Caper cut back one time where he could have stayed on the outside with it, but that's (a lack of) experience. It's also about experience on the offensive line, getting the right guys up there. You've got to stay on your blocks and everything. We only had 56 plays on offense (against Central Michigan). We ran the ball 30 times for 107 yards. Again, we scored 27 points. We didn't turn the ball over. It was more a fact that we didn't get the ball enough. At the end, they took the clock and didn't leave anything left. "

On what to expect out of the Friggin Irish: " Obviously, Coach (Charlie) Weis is an offensive coach, so they will be very fundamentally sound. They're going to throw it up top. That's the nature of what they've done (in the passing game). They go deep a lot, but they've established the running game as well... Clausen is in his third year (as a starter) now, so he's an experienced quarterback. He knows where to go with the ball, and he gets rid of the ball quickly. They're going to throw it deep... Defensively, Notre Dame has six guys back with starting experience. Jon Tenuta is the defensive coordinator. He was at Ohio State before I had arrived there. He's known as a pressure coach, so he's going to pressure. He's going to play an under front predominantly."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Biggest Dissapointment: DBs; Biggest Concern? Running game

The biggest disappointment on Saturday vs. Central Michgian? The play of the Spartan defensive secondary, being smoked left, right, and up the middle (CMU's LeFevour went 34-of-47, a blistering 73% completion rate, for 352 yards). D-coord Pat Narduzzi effectively tied their hands by playing a base defense... The ES kept yelling, "where the hell is the bump-and-run?" and, "where are the blitzes???" If this team has such damn good talent in the defensive backfield, why play scared? Where the hell is the aggressiveness? Tackle, hit, and get after the Goddam Irish on Saturday; the Spartan DBs better not be waiting, or they'll just get run over. Downright embarrassing.

The biggest concern? The Spartan running game. Let's start with the play of the Spartan offensive line. My God, they looked uninspired and couldn't run block as well as my grandma. They looked better in pass blocking, but not by much. John Stipek looked confused half the time replacing Joel Nitchman (sprained knee) at center. You wonder how much of an impact that had on the line - we NEED Nitchman back. At RB, at least Caulton Ray hit the holes going forward and had a few yards. Larry Caper needs to ditch the "I wanna look like Barry Sanders" dance moves and run forward and hit the holes or the Irish will break his ankles and eat him alive. Listen, ND gave up 190 yards rushing to the Yellow Bellies of Ann Arbor, so there IS room to run. But, MSU better find it.

Spartans... Touchdown Jesus is waiting for you. You want some, or you want to just give up? Here is the best opportunity to RUIN the Irish pride. What do you do when a rabid dog is in a corner? You grab it by the neck and stomp on it. Ruin their day, their season, their football tradition. I want it. Do you? Go out and do it. It will be sweet redemption and put the Spartan Nation back on track. 1-2 is unacceptable. Go get it done.

ND favored by 11 over MSU

Notre Dame is favored by 11 over MSU; this has to be the widest point spread between the two in years; and, that's no surprise after MSU's collapse last week. Methinks the game will be closer, or else the wheels will fall off the Doctor's bus, with an MSU team a la the highly-touted 2002 team of Bobby Williams.

Northwestern is favored by 4 over Syracuse; Purdue by 14.5 over N. Illinois; Michigan by 23 over EMU; JoePa by 28 over Temple; Iowa by 6 over Arizona; Akron by 3 over Indiana; Ohio State by 21 at Toledo; and, Cal by 12 at Minnesota.

Oh, and here's your AP Top 25. Funny, CMU wins at MSU and doesn't even get an "also receiving votes":

1Florida (56)2-014911
2Texas (1)2-014042
3USC (1)2-013963
4Alabama (2)2-013284
5Penn State2-011457
7Brigham Young2-011229
10Boise State2-094512
11Ohio State1-18408
13Virginia Tech1-174914
14Georgia Tech2-068315
16Oklahoma State1-14455
20Miami (FL)1-036420
24North Carolina2-025019

Dropped from rankings: Notre Dame 18, Missouri 25

Others receiving votes:
Missouri 93, Pittsburgh 87, Oregon State 64, Texas Tech 54, UCLA 44, Notre Dame 40, West Virginia 30, Auburn 26, Iowa 23, Boston College 19, Baylor 15, Clemson 10, Oregon 5, Arizona 4, Arkansas 3, Colorado State 2, Florida State 1, Minnesota 1, South Florida 1

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Chippewas deserved to beat Spartans, 29-27

Dantonio wants adversity, he just got it. Michigan State was outplayed and, more specifically, outcoached by Central Michigan today, in CMU's surprising 29-27 upset over MSU in East Lansing. CMU deserved to win - today, they were the better team. Period.

Goes to show you what scheduling a DI-AA/FCS team does: nothing. We learned absolutely nothing from playing Montana State last week; if anything, MSU took two huge steps back in its loss today. What we did learn is that the Spartans exposed all their weaknesses vs the Chippewas: an awful offensive line, running backs that would rather dance than run hard, wideouts that have butterfingers, a defensive backfield that has more talk than walk, and a defensive coach that refused to turn his players loose on blitzes late in the game. And, what happened to Greg Jones today? Did someone put a sleeping pill in his gatorade; he made plays early and late, but in the middle of the game, he just kind of disappeared...

There really was only one positive: Kirk Cousins will be the starting QB, as he clearly outplayed a misfiring Keith Nichol for most of the game. Cousins led MSU on its best drive of the game, early in the 4th Quarter - when MSU last had the ball.

Give CMU credit. Now, MSU must play a pissed-off Notre Dame squad.

The ES wishes he was more pissed off - but he's not, because MSU didn't piss this game away; rather, the Spartans were just clearly outplayed all game long. The game ended the way it should have: an onside kick that CMU recovered; the Chips missing a FG, but getting another chance because MSU was offsides. Now THAT is the Same Old Spartans we know and love.

It is extremely disappointing, but this was basically our first game of the year. So, now let's see what improvement we can have now to next week.

Dantonio did NOT have his players nor his coaches ready. Period. They were looking ahead and should be ashamed of themselves. It's too bad.

Live Chat: MSU vs CMU

ES prediction: MSU 34, CMU 15 (half: MSU 17, CMU 7).
ES updates from the game as tweets (in right column).
Freep: MSU 34, CMU 17. MLive: MSU 38, CMU 20.

Friday, September 11, 2009

More on MSU - Michigan Game Time Scenarios

Let's look at the schedule for Oct. 3. Right now the Big Ten Network has two games scheduled, and ABC has one Pac 10 prime-time game scheduled:

12 pm. NW at Purdue (BTN)
7 pm. OSU at Indiana (BTN)
8 pm. Southern Cal at Cal (ABC)

Other Big Ten games that weekend: Michigan at MSU, JoePa at Illinois, Wisconsin at Minnesota, Arkansas State at Iowa.

So, essentially, we have lots of regional and national spots to fill on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 at this point in time. ABC/ESPN has tv contracts with the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, and Pac 10. Depending on what happens throughout the season, ABC/ESPN will defer to the best-rated matchups in a pair, or trio, of broadcast games across these conferences. We're talking basically seven open slots for 12 noon (national, 2 regional), 3:30 pm (national, 2 regional), and one slot for the Prime Time 8 pm matchup (ESPN Game Day). It's possible they may run more football - but methinks that the bigwings would prefer some diversity and show bowling or ice skating or gandy dancing or something.

The ES looked at the first week and saw some bad performances, and from that considered the following games as top games on Oct. 3 in other conferences, likely in consideration by ABC/ESPN in national or regional TV. NOTE (Washington is at Notre Dame, on NBC). Thusly, the ES argues these as the best Potential ESPN Game Days (8 pm):

* Big Ten - Michigan at MSU; Wisconsin at Minnesota (new stadium);
* Big 12/ACC - Oklahoma at Miami; Arkansas at Texas A&M;
* Pac 10 - UCLA at Stanford; Oregon St and Arizona St;

Let's prognosticate:

1. If either Michigan or MSU take a nose dive (either losing to ND for instance), it likely blows a chance for MSU-Michigan Game Day.
2. If Wisky and Minny go undefeated, with a new stadium, they might get it (Wisconsin plays MSU and Minny at Northwestern the week prior; Minny also hosts Cal next week).
3. If Oklahoma and Miami win out from this point forward, ESPN loves a top-tiered non-conference matchup, reminscent of Barry Switzer vs. Jimmy Johnson, and with the "return of Sam Bradford" looming large (Oklahoma has creampuffs scheduled, Miami plays Ga Tech and Va Tech).
4. If UCLA and Stanford win out (this weekend, Stanford plays Wake Forest, UCLA at Tennessee then hosts Kansas State), they make a good case...
5. as does undefeated Oregon State and Arizona State (Oregon State plays Cinci and Arizona, Arizona State plays at Georgia)... though two Pac 10 prime time games on the same network will be difficult to believe.
6. Arkansas won't go undefeated (they have to play Georgia and Alabama), but Texas A&M likely will (creampuffs). If Arkansas does, then the intrigue for this game goes sky high, as both would likely be undefeated.

But, bottom line... this leaves LOTS OF ROOM FOR ERROR AND PREDICTION. Don't believe Rexrode, or anyone other than the ABC/ESPN Gods, for a few weeks until things shake out.

MSU AD, Revenue Coaches All Get Contract Extensions

The MSU Board of Trustees just extended the contracts for AD Mark Hollis, head football coach Mark Dantonio and head men's basketball coach Tom Izzo through the 2016 seasons. Dantonio is making $1.8 million a year (up from $1.13 last year) and will get a $2 million bonus if he sticks around another seven seasons. Tom Izzo is making a combined $1.6 million annually (through a combination of sources, not all salary), with $300,000 deferred. The board also approved contract extensions for women's basketball coach Suzy Merchant through 2014 and hockey coach Rick Comley through 2013.

"Today's action calls attention to athletic leadership here that is marked by very good people, composing a very good team, and a future with stability as well as excellence," university president Lou Anna K. Simon said in a statement.

Now THAT IS A COMMITMENT TO CONTINUITY AND AWARDS FOR SUCCESS . No pressure now, just win baby, just WIN! Excellent moves by Hollis and Simon.

Michigan State - Michigan at 3:30 pm???

Is the Michigan - Michigan State game on Oct. 3 going to be a 3:30 pm kick? Our friends at The Other Side of Spartan Sports report that the LSJ's Joe Rexrode thinks so... "Joe Rexrode reports that this game has been finalized as a 3:30 p.m. kick. "

But, there is no official word out of the Big Ten Conference, and if Michigan takes a nose-dive, this may be a 12-Noon game. The Big Ten usually doesn't announce upcoming football game times until two weeks prior to games, depending on ABC/ESPN decisions, which are first priority for the league's revenue. The ES sez: stay tuned, let's hope Joe's right!

More MSU-CMU Previews, I-496, The Sad Story of Hubert Thompson, Hockey Cheer Axed

More previews of the Michigan State - Central Michigan contest (see the previous post as well): College Football Network/Scout (MSU 37-13), SpartyMSU (MSU 34-6), ESPN/Adam Rittenberg (MSU 37-17).

Also note: if you are coming to the game on I-496... well, MDOT says it's best to avoid it: "Motorists going to the Michigan State University football game in East Lansing on Saturday, Sept. 12, or motorists commuting into Lansing on Monday morning are strongly encouraged to seek an alternate route to their destination. Alternate routes include I-69 to US-127 to I-496, I-96 to US-127, and M-43 (Saginaw Street)." MDOT = dummies.


Here's a strange, sad story out of Illinois about former Spartan gridder Hubert Thompson (pictured at right): "An Illinois judge on Thursday ruled Hubert D. Thompson was insane when he hurled 66-year-old James Malone to his death March 30, 2007. Thompson will be confined to a high-security state mental institution and receive treatment."

You may recall Thompson playing for MSU in the 2000 Citrus Bowl -- actually, being ejected from the game for fighting with a Florida offensive lineman. According to the AP, Thompson also attended a New Orleans Saints mini-camp, "but was cut for starting a fight over use of an exercise bike." Going back to the archives, you wonder if you can make a correlation of his mental state with his academic troubles as an underprepared student. In a 1998 press release, Thompson was ineligible to play for the Spartans in 1998 because he "did not meet the NCAA's satisfactory academic progress requirement for eligibility and competition."


Finally, the ES wants to say "Thank you idiots" to the students the last 10 years who decided to yell "Fuck (opponent)" before "Let's Go State" when the band played the MSU Hockey Cheer. So now, MSU administrators have eliminated it. Michigan State admins have been warning for years that the day will come for changes to be made in order to produce a little more civility at football games. Hey, the ES is all for a good time, but I've heard plenty of complaints about this and it is unnecessary. So, this was an easy decision - just eliminate it and play another song. Now, the hockey cheer is GONE. Thanks. My guess: give it 4-5 years, and when the next generation of students comes in, no students will remember and maybe MSU admins will bring the Hockey Cheer back. Sigh.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

ES Game Day Preview: Michigan State 34, Central Michigan 15.

Central Michigan (0-1, #84 Sagarin) at Michigan State (1-0, #43 Sagarin, #26 USA Today).

Saturday, September 12. 12 pm noon EST.
TV: ESPN 2 (Biased analysis? Color commentary by former CMU linebacker Ray Bentley).
Weather: 76, sunny.

Injuries: Michigan State — DE Kevin Pickelman (leg), probable; WR Mark Dell (shoulder), probable; C Joel Nitchman (knee), questionable. Central Michigan — none.

ES predicts Michigan State 34, CMU 15. MVP of the game: Greg Jones. Why? MSU will see a tight game in the first half, and the Chippewa passing offense will be more determined to be efficient and produce points this week. It will be Jones mirroring LeFevour and constant pressure, putting a hard hat on his running ability as the game goes on to force three-and-outs and allow MSU's offense chances to pull away. Halftime Score: MSU 17, CMU 7.

Game Day Analysis on CMU: USA Today, Bleacher Report (MSU 38-14), CM Life, Best Damn Poll (MSU 35-20).

What do you think? What will be the game's biggest surprise? Comment Below -

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Big Ten Week 1 vs Week 2: Expectations vis a vis Sagarin

OK, let’s talk a bit more at length about the Big Ten’s “underperformance” in Week 1, despite compiling a 10-1 record. As is the case early in the season, the ES uses Sagarin’s rating system to look at football teams, largely because it is the only measure that incorporates both FBS/1A and FCS/1AA teams, and it is included in the BCS rankings.

I listed these games in order of largest difference from Big Ten to Big Ten opponent, coming up with a “Favorite Ranking” for each game. A + indicates favorite, a - indicates underdog. Then, in bold and red are the games that are the most surprising, based on the Favorite Ranking. If you consider Sagarin, the Missouri thumping of Illinois and the scUM thumping of WMU were to be expected. However, five results give credence to a Big Ten “underperformance” in week one, highlighted in BOLD RED.

Week 1. Sagarin Rank & Opponent. Favorite Ranking. Result.

#174 Towson at #61 N’western. +113. WIN, 47-14 (+33)
#148 Montana St at #44 MSU. +104. WIN, 44-3 (+41).
#111 Akron at #8 JoePa. +93. WIN, 31-7 (+24).
#163 Eastern Ky at #95 Indiana. +68. WIN, 19-13 (+6).
#99 Northern Illinois at #33 Wisconsin. +66. WIN, 28-21 (+7).
#113 Toldeo at #57 Purdue. +56. WIN, 52-31 (+21).
#83 Northern Iowa at #27 Iowa. +56 WIN, 17-16 (+1).
#59 Navy at #5 Ohio State. +54. WIN, 31-27 (+4).
#88 WMU at #35 scUM. +53. WIN, 31-7 (+24).
#97 at Syracuse vs #69 Minnesota. +28. WIN, 23-20 (+3).
#18 Missouri at #63 Illinois. –55. LOSS, 37-9 (-28).

If you look to week 2, when ALL teams theoretically make their biggest improvement, a few games Big Ten fans should keep their eye on (in RED BOLD). The Ohio State vs USC game should be close, as should ND-scUM and Air Force-Minny. According to Sagarin, WMU should beat Indiana, and Oregon should whip Purdue. But, the ES figures the struggles by Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State in week 1 may lead to losses (or big losses) in week 2… and, a poor performance by WMU in week 1 gives hope to Indiana in week 2.

Week 2. Sagarin Rank & Opponent. Favorite Ranking.

#183 Illinois State at #65 Illinois. +118.
#162 EMU at #71 Northwestern +91.
#104 Syracuse at #14 JoePa. +90.
#78 at Iowa State vs #36 Iowa. +42.
#84 CMU at #43 MSU. +41.
#67 Fresno State at #37 Wisconsin. +30.
#35 Notre Dame at #30 scUM. +5.
#61 Air Force at #63 Minnesota. –2.
#1 Southern Cal at #4 Ohio St.. –3.
#89 WMU at #106 Indiana. –17.
#18 at Oregon vs #57 Purdue. –39.