Saturday, December 31, 2011

ES Game Day: OUTBACK BOWL, Michigan State vs Georgia

#12 Michigan State (10-3) vs. #18 Georgia (10-3)
1:00 pm ET. Monday, Jan 2.
Rankings:  MSU #12 (AP), #13 (USA Today), #17 (BCS), #19 (Sagarin). Georgia #18 (USA Today), #18 (AP), #16 (BCS), #18 (Sagarin).

Weather: 65 degrees and sunny.
Line:  Georgia favored by 3

Predictions: SportsRatings (lots of stats in this): MSU 19-17; SEC Football Blog - MSU 28-27; MLive - MSU 27-24; Sporting News - MSU; So Fried Sports Blog - UGA 23-17; Sports Rumble Blog - UGA 34-31; CFB Computer Predictions - MSU 26-23;   Athlon Sports - UGA 20-17; DocSports - UGA 24-20;  BetVega - UGA31-24;  ESPN/Bennett - MSU 17-14; ESPN/Rittenberg - MSU 21-20; ESPN/Aschoff - UGA 27-24; ESPN/Low - UGA 30-21; - MSU;  NBCSports/Tamahana - UGA 26-20; Rivals/Yahoo - UGA 24-17; CFN/Scout - MSU 27-24; Front Office Blogs - UGA 24-21; Dubsism Blog - MSU

Key Stat: The Spartan defense will be sturdy and consistent, as it has all year long.  Michigan State's offensive success will be the story of the game. The Spartans will score TDs in the Red Zone, and demonstrate a balanced offense, with more than 200 yards passing from Kirk Cousins and over 120 yards rushing as a team. And, expect Dantonio to once again pull a rabbit out of his hat with a trick play or three...

ES pick:  MSU 24, Georgia 17.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Basketball on grass SUCKS

Anyone watch that disaster of an Alamo Bowl last night?  Seemed like anytime either team (Baylor or Washington) touched the ball, they were going to score.  The 67-56 final score was NOT an overtime game, and the teams combined for over 1,400 total yards. It was absurd -- the defense was the WORST of any game the ES has ever seen.  Receivers wide open on both sides of the ball every single play, missed tackles (that #8 on Baylor defense is horrid) every play... the defensive line of Washington was embarrassing, not sure how many runs of 50+ yards Baylor had (440+ total yards rushing).   If it wasn't so terrible, it was hilarious.  Basketball on grass sucks.  That dude from Washington threw 5 TDs and ran for 2 more (that's 49 points)... and the Huskies still lost.   No defense = A terrible game to watch.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Spartans and Dogs: Red Zone TDs and Third Downs

ES keeps thinking of two stats:  red zone and third downs.  Let's compare these stats of UGA and MSU in their three losses, and the last five games. 


Third down off
15-44 (34%)
14-46 (30%)
Third down def
18-41 (44%)
9-35 (26%)
Red zone scoring off
4-11 (36%)
4-7 (57%)
Red zone scoring def
9-10 (90%)
10-11 (91%)

Third down off
29-67 (43%)
38-75 (51%)
Third down def
28-77 (36%)
23-68 (34%)
Red zone scoring TD off
13-20 (65%)
15-19 (79%)
Red zone scoring TD def
12-20 (60%)
8-11 (73%)

What is notable here is third down defense in the three losses, and red zone scoring defense in the three losses.   In its three losses, Georgia's defense remained admirable in stopping opponents on third downs - just 9 out of 35 attempts (26%).  However, in Michigan State's three losses, its defense allowed 18 third downs on 41 attempts (44%).  And, both teams red zone defense was horrific in losses.  Both Georgia and Michigan State gave up touchdowns 90% or more of the time that opponents were inside their 20 yard line.  

What the ES finds is that the Spartan defense is vulnerable on third downs when they lose... and both teams easily give up TDs in the red zone when they lose.  Stopping third downs and stopping red zone TDs are critical to success.  Georgia's defense seems to have the advantage on third downs.

But, what do the last five games mean?  The ES uses this as a barometer of how the teams fared going into bowl season.  When you look at the Sagarin ratings of the opponents in each of the final five games, the average rating is roughly equal (MSU 67.6, Georgia 63.2). Look below:

MSU (average opponent rating = 67.6)
UGA (average opponent rating = 63.2)
Wisconsin (8). Loss. Neutral.
LSU (1). Loss.  Neutral.
Northwestern (62). Win. Away.
Georgia Tech (50). Win. Home.
Indiana (138). Win. Home.
Kentucky (87). Win. Home.
Iowa (41). Win. Away.
Auburn (45). Win. Home.
Minnesota (89). Win. Home.
New Mexico State (133). Win. Home.

Again, while UGA has marginally better stats in its last five games, four were played at home - while MSU had to earn two wins on the road at locations they have lost frequently in the past several seasons (Iowa and Northwestern).  UGA was humiliated in its championship game loss to the nation's best team, LSU.  In the Big Ten championship, Michigan State outplayed Wisconsin, except for the final two minutes, and lost a heartbreaker. Both teams struggled at home against opponents they should have whipped easily (Minnesota, Kentucky); both teams had a shit-kicking win at home (Indiana, NMSU); both teams had a surprisingly dominating victory (Iowa, Auburn).

The ES sees Michigan State's defense as standing up a bit better than Georgia under road conditions, but both teams are about equal statistically. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

LIVE CHAT: Michigan State hosts Indiana in Men's Basketball

Monday, December 26, 2011

Hut, hut, Merry Christmas...

Love the "ready, Merry Christmas on three... hut, hut, MERRY CHRISTMAS." LOL.  Kirk Cousins rocks.

OUTBACK hype: Spartan vs Bulldogs, will it be third down conversions?

OK, the ES returns from his Holiday absence and is back for the attack, with the hype for what should be a GREAT game in the Michigan State vs Georgia Outback Bowl.  First off, the ES is NOT upset at the Big Green getting a fourth-tiered bowl game instead of a top-tiered BCS game.  Mind you, scUM is completely undeserving of such an accomplishment to give them a nod to the Sugar Bowl, considering how well and consistent the Spartans have played all year, including a 2-TD thumping of the roadkill earlier this year (Why not pick MSU vs Michigan? The Spartan Nation would have sold that out in an instant… but why watch the Spartans break Robinson and scUM’s bones again?).  That said, MSU had all the cards in their hands, and had a chance to win to go to Pasadena… at least we could play for it Spartan fans, we never had that chance in previous years.   Yes, baby steps suck. 

But, this is a BIG baby step. The Spartans need to use their heartbreaking loss to Wisky in the Big Ten title game and feast on Georgia in the Outback Bowl.  Defeating an SEC team on January 2 will be a big deal, especially the Dogs.

The ES pulled out his Phil Steele 2011 preview and first looked that bowl predictions:  Steele predicted a Spartan trip to the Gator Bowl and a Georgia trip to the Cap One bowl. Give Steele credit there, pretty close.   Steele also predicted Georgia to win the SEC East, and for the Spartans to tie Nebraska and win the B1G Legends.  So, Steele’s predictions come true, or at least within the ballpark.

About the Outback Bowl:  both teams come in with great defenses.  

Rush def
104 ypg (#12)
103 ypg (#9)
Pass def
168 ypg (#12)
165 ypg (#8)
Total def
273 ypg (#5)
268 ypg (#3)
Scoring def
18 ppg (#9)
20 ppg (#17)
3rd down conv def
Rush off
143 ypg (#76)
173 ypg (#40)
Pass off
248 ypg (#45)
241 ypg (#50)
Total off
391 ypg (#61)
414 ypg (#39)
Scoring off
31 ppg (#38)
32 ppg (#33)
3rd own conv off
Turnover difference
+ 0.54 (#23)
+0.54 (#23)

What is the biggest difference in the stats?  Third downs – UGA held its opponents to a lower percentage on third down conversions (29%) than did Michigan State (34%).  And, at 40%, the Spartan offense has been good on third downs, but far from the MOST efficient third down offense in the nation…  This is a concern for MSU, for its defense to be able to rise and make the plays in the most difficult situations – something it failed to accomplish late in the two games against Wisconsin….

That said, the ES is getting jacked for the Outback.  I’ll watch at the Peanut Barrell.  Check out the polls at the right… There will be more to come throughout the week.  But, this is a first start – GO GREEN!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Michigan State takes on UMKC tonite at 8:30 ET

Tonight, be lazy like the ES and kick back at home and watch the Big Green men's hoops take on Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) at 8:30 ET on Big Ten Network.  MSU moves up to #19 in the AP media poll after their impressive second half performance over Bowling Green on Saturday.  According to Sagarin, MSU is ranked #15 in the nation, and UMKC #143; Sagarin predicts a 20-pt win.

AP Top 25 Men's Hoops - 12/19/2011
1Syracuse (53) 11-01,585
2Ohio State (5) 10-11,474
3Kentucky (4) 9-11,457
4Louisville (2) 10-01,364
5North Carolina9-21,340
18Mississippi State11-1576
19Michigan State9-2413
22Murray State12-0222
  • Others receiving votes: Harvard 88, San Diego State 67, Stanford 61, Saint Louis 33, Gonzaga 23, Kansas State 22, Texas A&M 18, Wichita State 8, Alabama 8, Cleveland State 7, Northern Iowa 7, Vanderbilt 5, California 5, Northwestern 4, Ohio 3, Long Beach State 2, Indiana State 1
ES has been kicking back on break a bit, but will be back with some skinny on the Outback Bowl here later this week.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

MSU will play Georgia in Outback

#16 Michigan State will play #17 Georgia in the Outback Bowl on January 2 on ABC.  MSU dropped to #16 in the BCS because they played an extra game, and Michigan moves up to #12 without playing a game.

Pure unadulterated bullshit.  Let's kick Georgia's ass.

Ouch. That hurts

Wisky 42, MSU 39.  It hurts real bad. 

Isaiah Lewis shouldn't have gone for the block; but MD rolled the dice and punted instead of going for it on 4th down; that backfired. Cousins threw inc to Martin instead of running for first down. We kicked a FG instead if scoring a TD in the middle of the 4th; and, MSU allowed the 40 yd pass play by Wilson on 4th down. Too many missed chances at the end. You have to make big plays. MSU converts on just one of what is aforementioned, they might have won. But they didn't. Sucks. Lewis blew it, he really blew it.

The end of the day:  Two teams - MSU and Wisconsin 0 are different but equal. The ES would love MSU to get a BCS berth against Michigan and break Robinson in half.  Love to hate that overrated POS.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Game Day: ES predicts B1G Ten Championship, Michigan State vs Wisconsin

Here it is!  The biggest game in the last 45 years of Michigan State football, the inaugural B1G Ten Championship game against Wisconsin.  Why is it the biggest game?  Because MSU is turning the tide in its competitiveness on the gridiron, and this game is THE BEST opportunity to finally make the statement that the Spartans are (not can be, but ARE) a perennial football power.  If the Spartans are to ever earn the respect of the likes of the national pundits, if they are ever to get to a BCS bowl game, they need to earn it the hard way on the field.  And that means winning the B1G Ten title on Saturday, with the ES in attendance - and his GREEN HAIR.

The ES hain't surprised at the lack of respect from most of the media.  Michigan State needs to EARN the respect.  But, DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS, and the Spartans have had the best and most consistent defense in the conference, if not the nation, all year long.  NOW IS THE TIME.  And, it is PREDICTION TIME. The ES was at the last Spartan Rose Bowl appearance - when he was an undergrad 25 years ago.  This is THE time to get to Pasadena again.


#9 Michigan State (10-2/7-1) vs. #12 Wisconsin Badgers (10-2/6-2)
Inaugural B1G Ten Championship Game
8:17 pm ET
Rankings:  MSU #9 (USA Today), #10 (AP), #13 (BCS), #20 (Sagarin). Wisconsin #12 (USA Today), #15 (AP), #15 (BCS), #13 (Sagarin).

Weather: Indoors.  Outdoors: 38 degrees.
Line:  Wisconsin favored by 9
ES pick:  MSU 24, Wisconsin 23.
Key Stat:  This will be another slugfest on the interior lines.  With Gholston returning for MSU, the dominant Spartan front of Gholston, Pickelman, Worthy, and Rush to hurry Wisconsin's Wilson throughout the game,  and for the Badgers to turn the ball over 3 times.  That defensive line is vicious and will fight tooth and nail for 60 minutes.  Each team will be held to under 350 yards of total offense, but both Bell (MSU) and Ball (Wisc) will have over 100 yards rushing.  Expect better passing efficiency out of the Spartan offense to make the plays and the difference in the end.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

B1G Ten Title Notes, Predictions

Normally, the ES would be all over things this week... but the blizzard in mid-Michigan caught the ES right in the middle of things, and involved car wreck that was, well TOAST.  While the ES was uninjured, it's been two days of hell with transportation, jobs, kids, yes, all that b.s.

YET TICKETS TO THE B1G TITLE game arrived on a timely basis, despite the issues.  ES will be back into this on Friday afternoon, with predictions, hype, and GHOLSTON-style viciousness.

GO GREEN. The ES cain't wait.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Spartans a 9-10 point underdog vs Wisconsin in B1G Ten Title game

Michigan State is a 9 to 10 point underdog to Wisconsin in the inaugural Big Ten title game.  Recall, MSU was a 7-point underdog when we defeated the Badgers earlier this year. Again, no respect -- and it is up to the Doctor and the Spartans to earn it.  Bring on the Badgers.

What IS total bullcrap are the ESPN bowl projections:  so, Wisky is expected to blow out Sparty, thus Wisconsin gets a Rose Bowl bid and... Michigan, which the Spartans have firmly defeated 4 years in a row, and which is a game behind MSU in the Legends Division, would then get a notch into the Sugar Bowl????  Sorry, the ES ain't buying it.  If there was ever, EVER, any incentive for Dantonio and the Spartans, thank you to ESPN. 

As for the BCS, Michigan State moved up to #13... but is a solid #9 in the coaches' poll (USA Today) and #11 in the AP media poll.

USA Today Poll
1LSU (59)12-01475
3Virginia Tech11-11291
5Oklahoma State10-11245
8Boise State10-11033
9Michigan State10-2941
13South Carolina10-2833
15Kansas State9-2681
20West Virginia8-3295
22Penn State9-3192
23Southern Miss10-2173
24Florida State8-486
  • Dropped from rankings: Georgia Tech 21, Notre Dame 24, Virginia 25
  • Others receiving votes: Texas 51, Georgia Tech 42, Brigham Young 29, Notre Dame 29, Northern Illinois 19, Missouri 16, Arkansas State 13, Ohio 8, Virginia 8, Rutgers 6, Louisiana Tech 4

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Michigan State kicks Northwestern butt; BRING ON WISKY

The Spartan defense took a while to get its mojo, but it harassed Northwestern QB Dan Persa for much of the day on a DAMP afternoon in a 31-17 Spartan victory. ES will break this down more, but BRING ON WISCONSIN AGAIN. The Big Ten's BEST DEFENSE in Michigan State will get a load of Wisconsin next week... and the ES just got his tickets. See you in INDY!

Michigan State (10-2,7-1) vs. Northwestern (6-6,3-5)
Date: Nov 26, 2011 Site: Evanston, Ill. Stadium: Ryan Field
Attendance: 32172

Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
Michigan State...... 3 14 7 7 - 31
Northwestern........ 0 3 7 7 - 17

Scoring Summary:
1st 04:00 MSU - Conroy, Dan 25 yd field goal
13 plays, 72 yards, TOP 5:17, MSU 3 - NU 0
2nd 14:03 NU - Budzien, Jeff 34 yd field goal
12 plays, 44 yards, TOP 4:57, MSU 3 - NU 3
01:40 MSU - Bell, Le'Veon 7 yd run (Conroy, Dan kick)
8 plays, 97 yards, TOP 3:45, MSU 10 - NU 3
00:34 MSU - Martin, Keshawn 57 yd punt return (Conroy, Dan kick)
MSU 17 - NU 3
3rd 13:02 NU - Ebert, Jeremy 2 yd pass from Persa, Dan (Budzien, Jeff kick)
5 plays, 69 yards, TOP 1:58, MSU 17 - NU 10
07:35 MSU - Cunningham, B.J. 33 yd pass from Cousins, Kirk (Conroy, Dan kick)
10 plays, 67 yards, TOP 5:27, MSU 24 - NU 10
4th 13:57 NU - Fields, D. 12 yd pass from Persa, Dan (Budzien, Jeff kick)
8 plays, 65 yards, TOP 3:13, MSU 24 - NU 17
05:17 MSU - Cunningham, B.J. 29 yd pass from Cousins, Kirk (Conroy, Dan kick)
9 plays, 93 yards, TOP 5:05, MSU 31 - NU 17

Team Statistics (Final)
2011 Michigan State Football
#11 Michigan State vs Northwestern (Nov 26, 2011 at Evanston, Ill.)


FIRST DOWNS................... 20 21
Rushing..................... 9 10
Passing..................... 9 8
Penalty..................... 2 3
NET YARDS RUSHING............. 166 117
Rushing Attempts............ 36 41
Average Per Rush............ 4.6 2.9
Rushing Touchdowns.......... 1 0
Yards Gained Rushing........ 170 151
Yards Lost Rushing.......... 4 34
NET YARDS PASSING............. 214 253
Completions-Attempts-Int.... 14-20-1 24-34-0
Average Per Attempt......... 10.7 7.4
Average Per Completion...... 15.3 10.5
Passing Touchdowns.......... 2 2
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS........... 380 370
Total offense plays......... 56 75
Average Gain Per Play....... 6.8 4.9
Fumbles: Number-Lost.......... 1-0 2-1
Penalties: Number-Yards....... 8-66 6-70
PUNTS-YARDS................... 4-156 4-177
Average Yards Per Punt...... 39.0 44.2
Net Yards Per Punt.......... 39.0 25.0
Inside 20................... 2 2
50+ Yards................... 0 2
Touchbacks.................. 0 1
Fair catch.................. 0 0
KICKOFFS-YARDS................ 6-376 4-244
Average Yards Per Kickoff... 62.7 61.0
Net Yards Per Kickoff....... 44.7 41.2
Touchbacks.................. 1 0
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD. 1-57-1 0-0-0
Average Per Return.......... 57.0 0.0
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 4-79-0 5-88-0
Average Per Return.......... 19.8 17.6
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD.. 0-0-0 1-0-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD. 0-0-0 0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards........... 0 0
Possession Time............... 29:10 30:18
1st Quarter................. 7:33 7:27
2nd Quarter................. 4:56 10:04
3rd Quarter................. 7:35 7:25
4th Quarter................. 9:06 5:22
Third-Down Conversions........ 8 of 13 7 of 17
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 0 of 0 4 of 5
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 2-2 3-5
Touchdowns.................. 1-2 2-5
Field goals................. 1-2 1-5
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 6-31 0-0
PAT Kicks..................... 4-4 2-2
Field Goals................... 1-1 1-1

LIVE CHAT - Michigan State at Northwestern

Game Day: ES predicts Michigan State at Northwestern

#10 Michigan State (9-2/6-1) at Northwestern Wildcats (6-5/3-4)
Evanston, IL.  12 noon ET.
Rankings:  MSU #10 (USA Today), #11 (AP), #14 (BCS), #20 (Sagarin).  Northwestern #60 (Sagarin).

Weather: 54 degrees and rain.
Line:  Michigan State favored by 6

Picks: MSU 27-23,  ESPN/Rittenberg: MSU 27-21, ESPN/Bennett: MSU 34-27, Scout/CFN: NW, 28-23, Rivals: MSU 28-23, Freep/Rosenberg: MSU 37-17, Freep/Sharp: MSU 27-21, Freep/Sipple: MSU 38-24, LSJ: MSU 31-21, Lake The Posts (NW blog): MSU 28-24/MSU 34-24/NW 21-17, Chicago Tribune: NW 24-17, DetNews/Wojo: MSU 38-26, DetNews/Charboneau: MSU 34-24, DetNews/Niyo: MSU 34-17.

ES pick:  MSU 27, Northwestern 17.

Key Stat:  NW total offense will exceed 400 yards behind Dan Persa, but their red zone offense will stall when facing the playmaking Spartan defense.  Watch the Spartans exceed 150 yards rushing, and another targeted performance by Cousins (70% + completions).  The vicious Spartan defense will force 3 or more turnovers out of the Cats.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Michigan State moves to #10 in corrupt polls; favored by TD over Northwestern.

More on the Spartoonies later this week.    Michigan State is favored by a TD at Northwestern.  Bummer for the ES - he has tickets to the NW stint, but will have to take a backseat this year and watch from the beautiful confines of his Man Cave.  MSU improved to #10 in the USA Today poll, which is about as big of a crock of shit as you can imagine.  MSU below HOUSTON and BOISE STATE (bullcrap).  In the AP Poll, Oregon is ranked ahead of USC... who defeated the ducks in Eugene on Saturday night.  That is about as dumb as anything the ES has seen in years.  Stanford struggles at home to beat Cal, Oklahoma State loses to IOWA STATE for Godsakes; Baylor BEATS Oklahoma, which remains at #9... And, you wanna talk about CORRUPTION?  LSU, Alabama, Arkansas are 1-2-3... and all are from the SAME DIVISION (West) of the SAME CONFERENCE (Southeastern).  Noone with any authority in college football knows what the hell is happening. MICHIGAN STATE is no lower than #8, maybe #7.

In a word?  BULLSHIT. 

USA Today Poll
1LSU (59)11-01475
4Virginia Tech10-11242
6Oklahoma State10-11156
8Boise State9-1982
10Michigan State9-2928
13South Carolina9-2806
15Kansas State9-2671
19Penn State9-2455
21Georgia Tech8-3203
23West Virginia7-3158
24Notre Dame8-3156
  • Dropped from rankings: Southern Miss 20, Florida State 22
  • Others receiving votes: Rutgers 54, Auburn 33, Southern Miss 25, Tulsa 23, Brigham Young 21, Arkansas State 10, NORIL 10, Missouri 8, Texas A&M 4, Utah 3, Texas 1, Florida State 1, Iowa State 1

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Michigan State CRUSHES Indiana

Ummmm... not much to write here, other than MICHIGAN STATE ABSOLUTELY POUNDED INDIANA INTO SUBMISSION. What an unbelievably complete dominating performance. ES didn't think the scoreboard had enough lights for the Spartan offense. Joel Foreman running the football was amazing. And Michigan State has found its Tight Ends. And, the Spartans found that Keshawn Martin is their top playmaker on offense.

Actually, the Spartans found everyone yesterday against the Hapless Hoosiers, and everyone was a top playmaker... for a day.  55-3?  Seemed more like 100-0 to me.

Indiana Hoosiers Michigan State Spartans
First Downs 12 23
Total Yards 237 469
Turnovers 2 0
First Downs 12 23
Passing 8 12
Rushing 3 11
Penalty 1 0
Third Down Efficiency 3-15 6-12
Fourth Down Efficiency 0-2 0-1
Total Net Yards 237 469
Total Plays 69 65
Average Gain Per Play 3.4 7.2
Net Yards Rushing 95 172
Rushes 37 34
Average Per Rush 2.6 5.1
Net Yards Passing 142 297
Completions-Attempts 15-32 21-31
Yards Per Pass Play 4.4 9.6
Times Sacked 3 0
Yards Lost to Sacks 24 0
Had Intercepted 2 0
Punts 9 3
Average Punt 47.8 54.0
Penalties 8 5
Penalty Yards 76 45
Fumbles 1 0
Fumbles Lost 0 0

Saturday, November 19, 2011

LIVE CHAT - Michigan State vs Indiana

Game Day: ES predicts Indiana at Michigan State

ES is at a conference in Charlotte, NC.... So this is a bit of a truncated prediction today.  I'm headed to the Dilworth Neighborhood Grill to join the Spartan faithful in cheering on the Big Green today.

Prediction?  The #12 Michigan State Spartans (8-2/5-1) should win in a cakewalk over the 1-9 Indiana Hoosiers; 200 yards rushing out of Baker and Bell today.

Final Score: MSU 45, Indiana 10

Monday, November 14, 2011

Spartans smack down Iowa, 37-21; favored by 4 TD over Indy

 Well, well, wasn’t that a beautiful smack down of Iowa on Saturday?  The Spartans used a variety of efforts, and another impressive defensive performance, to beat up the Hawkeyes, 37-21.  Most impressive was the smothering of the Iowa offensive line, and the opportunistic Spartan defense, forcing three Iowa turnovers.  MSU’s defensive line was again dominant, holding the Big Ten’s leading rusher, Iowa’s Marcus Coker, to just 51 yards on 20 carries (2.7 average) and just 87 yards for the day.

MSU now heads into this weekend in its final home stint vs Indiana, and are 4-TD favorites. 8-2/4-1, the Spartans are now the highest ranked Big Ten team, improving to #12 in the AP Poll and #15 in the BCS.  We haven’t beaten the Ugly Chickens in Iowa City since I was an undergrad – 1989 to be exact – so this annihilation was a long time coming.

Before you could blink it was 14-0.  A fast start in Iowa City is what the Spartans really needed.  And, they got it.  Kirk Cousins (18-31, 260 yards, 3 TDs) was very sharp early, making impressive throw after impressive throw.  BJ Cunningham and Ed Baker made impressive, difficult catches in paydirt (Baker with a beautiful one-hander).  And, then, top it all off, MSU had one of its better running efforts of the season, over 150 yards on the ground – with 112 yards by LeVeon Bell and an impressive 25-yard TD… Bell is looking all the more like Lorenzo White, a big body, deceptive speed, and just the ability to run hard between the tackles.  And, Ed Baker had a nice day hitting the corner with his speed for 51 yards on the ground. But, the play calling was as good as it has been all year, including an impressive double reverse to Keshawn Martin, who promply threw a BEAUTIFUL ball to Brian Linthicum for 28 yards… which reminds the ES -

Flashback to earlier in the week, where the ES criticizedthe Spartan offensive play calling with respect to the absence of tight ends in Big Ten play…. Injuries or not, MSU found a way to get it done – impressive edge blocking by Brian Linthicum all day long to help spring the running game, but also Linthicum had five catches for 71 yards… his most productive day in Big Ten play this year.

The only concern for MSU all day long really was 1) the center-QB snap, three times dropped by Cousins (and once on a critical third down); 2) giving up big chunks of yards on kick returns; and, 3) a measly 4-for-16 on third downs.  But, Iowa imploded with mistake after mistake, and MSU made them pay by scoring on nearly every Hawkeye error. The 31-7 halftime lead was beautiful (and rare in Iowa), and that 48 yard field goal by Conroy in the fourth period would have been good from 70 if he hid is straight.  He hooked that thing like my golf drives – 100 yards to the straight and then 150 yards to the left. Beautiful.

Even Mike Sadler had his best day as a Spartan punting for the Big Green and pinning Iowa deep when Cousins and his offense could not convert third downs.  He averaged 46 yards on six punts, with three downed inside the 20.

MSU is in control of a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title.  Two games to go: Indiana and Northwestern… GO GREEN. 

Michigan State Spartans Iowa Hawkeyes
First Downs 19 20
Total Yards 443 349
Turnovers 0 3
First Downs 19 20
Passing 11 13
Rushing 8 3
Penalty 0 4
Third Down Efficiency 4-16 6-17
Fourth Down Efficiency 1-1 1-2
Total Net Yards 443 349
Total Plays 72 77
Average Gain Per Play 6.2 4.5
Net Yards Rushing 155 87
Rushes 40 30
Average Per Rush 3.9 2.9
Net Yards Passing 288 262
Completions-Attempts 19-32 22-47
Yards Per Pass Play 9.0 5.6
Times Sacked 1 3
Yards Lost to Sacks 3 22
Had Intercepted 0 1
Punts 6 7
Average Punt 46.2 41.0
Penalties 7 6
Penalty Yards 75 39
Fumbles 3 3
Fumbles Lost 0 2

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Halftime: MSU 31, Iowa 7

Spartans doing just about everything right, completely outclassing Iowa, 31-7 at half, and bruising the Chicken Legs while they're at it.

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter MIST - IOWA
9:17 Michigan State Spartans MIST TD Kirk Cousins passed to B.J. Cunningham down the middle for 6 yard gain (Dan Conroy made PAT)
7 - 0
7:37 Michigan State Spartans MIST TD Kirk Cousins passed to Edwin Baker to the right for 17 yard gain (Dan Conroy made PAT)
14 - 0
2nd Quarter MIST - IOWA
15:00 Iowa Hawkeyes IOWA TD James Vandenberg passed to C.J. Fiedorowicz to the left for 8 yard gain (Mike Meyer made PAT)
14 - 7
7:37 Michigan State Spartans MIST FG Dan Conroy kicked a 22-yard field goal
17 - 7
1:57 Michigan State Spartans MIST TD Le'Veon Bell rushed to the left for 25 yard gain (Dan Conroy made PAT)
24 - 7
1:21 Michigan State Spartans MIST TD Kirk Cousins passed to B.J. Cunningham to the left for 22 yard gain (Dan Conroy made PAT)
31 - 7

Michigan State Spartans Iowa Hawkeyes
First Downs 13 9
Total Yards 268 189
Turnovers 0 2
First Downs 13 9
Passing 8 6
Rushing 5 2
Penalty 0 1
Third Down Efficiency 3-7 3-8
Fourth Down Efficiency 0-0 0-0
Total Net Yards 268 189
Total Plays 37 36
Average Gain Per Play 7.2 5.3
Net Yards Rushing 90 68
Rushes 17 16
Average Per Rush 5.3 4.3
Net Yards Passing 178 121
Completions-Attempts 13-20 10-20
Yards Per Pass Play 8.9 6.1
Times Sacked 0 0
Yards Lost to Sacks 0 0
Had Intercepted 0 1
Punts 3 5
Average Punt 48.3 45.6
Penalties 2 5
Penalty Yards 30 35
Fumbles 2 1
Fumbles Lost 0 1

Friday, November 11, 2011

Game Day: ES predicts MSU at Iowa

Earlier this week, the ES took a swipe at why MSU tight ends have been AWOL for the most part during the Big Ten season; it has been a puzzle, particularly since it was highlighted as such a strength.  Sure enough, the Freep reported on the significance of injuries to that position... since the Doctor doesn't report injuries (ES agrees with that philosophy), we're left to wonder, ponder, and potentially criticize why there are drop offs in positions... Linthicum with a back injury, Sims with a broken wrist, and Celek with a concussion helps to explain the concern.  Let's hope we can find some production this weekend, because TEs may be critical in our matchup at Iowa.  Time for an ES prediction - 

#13 Michigan State (7-2/4-1) at Iowa Chickens (6-3/3-2)
Iowa City, Iowa.  12 noon ET.
Rankings:  MSU #13 (AP), #13 (USA Today), #17 (BCS), #29 (Sagarin).  Iowa #31 (AP), #31 (USA Today), #48 (Sagarin).

Weather: 47 degrees sunny.
Line:  Michigan State favored by3

Picks: MSU 17-13,  ESPN/Rittenberg: Iowa 27-24, ESPN/Bennett: MSU 23-17, Scout/CFN: Iowa 24-20, Rivals: Iowa 24-20, Hawkeye Lounge: thread

ES pick:  MSU 17, Iowa 14.
Predicted stats of the week:  OK, Spartans have  just 36 combined pts on the road, and no road rushing TDs this year?  MSU hasn't won in Iowa City since ES went to State (1989)?  That changes - Spartans get enough on the ground (150 rush yards, 1 TD) and the defense stands up (allows the Skinny Chickens less than 250 total yards) in a rough-and-tumble victory.