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.