Monday, October 29, 2012

Watching MSU v Wisky again on BTN now

Great watching this game again, on BTN now (9:45 pm on Mon nite).  They're just starting the 4th quarter, with that TERRIBLE screen pass, no selling of the screen at all by the offensive line giving Maxwell no chance on that play.  Brutal.  But, then Taiwan Jones makes a huge play on the bull rush up the middle to nail O'Brien. 

#35 Spartans favored by 1 pt vs #21 Corn

The bookies in Las Vegas are making the Michigan State Spartans an early 1 point favorite at home over the #21-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers.  Penn State is favored by 3-1/2 at Purdue; Indiana (yes, that Indiana) is a 1-pt fave at home over Iowa; Ohio State is a 24-1/2 pt favorite at home over Illinois; there is no line yet on Michigan at Minny.

Note - the MSU-Nebraska game will kickoff at 3:30 pm ET and be televised regionally on ABC.   And, MSU is ranked #35 by Jeff Sagarin, while the Corn is at #23.  Meanwhile, over at USA Today, they've ranked all 124 teams, with MSU #42 and Corn #22.  Let's get the Spartan student body to fill the seats!

The ES hates Corn.   "Don't eat that Corn... it's GREEN!"

USA Today Poll - um, yes, Michigan State has ONE vote.
1Alabama (59)8-01475
3Kansas State8-01366
4Notre Dame8-01307
7Florida State8-11121
11South Carolina7-2838
13Oregon State6-1684
14Boise State7-1634
16Texas A&M6-2592
18Mississippi State7-1569
19West Virginia5-2326
20Texas Tech6-2284
23Louisiana Tech7-1191
24Oklahoma State5-2166
  • Dropped from rankings: Michigan 20, Ohio 23, Wisconsin 25
  • Others receiving votes: Northwestern 77, UCLA 61, Toledo 59, Northern Illinois 39, Kent State 26, Tulsa 19, Wisconsin 15, Arizona 14, Michigan 11, Louisiana-Monroe 10, Ohio 9, Cincinnati 8, Iowa State 6, Utah State 4, Western Kentucky 4, Ole Miss 3, Arizona State 2, Michigan State 1

Saturday, October 27, 2012

WE WON!!!!

Spartans win at Wisconsin... on a passing play, no less!  16-13  In OT!   Waaaaaaaaaahoooooooooooooooooooo!!!!

Congrats to the Spartan defense which played SPECTACULAR all game long.!  of note... ES predicted a 19-15 Big Green victory! :) Snapping that Wisky 21-game home winning streak.

MSU held Wisconsin to just 190 TOTAL YARDS. WHAT AN AMAZING SPARTAN DEFENSE. That stud Montee Ball for Wisky only had 46 yards rushing...Max Bullough played an amazing game for Michigan State on defense, as did Denicos Allen... the Spartan secondary played GREAT keeping all the plays in front of them, and Johnny Allen played his best game of the season for MSU.

LeVeon Bell ran for 77, and Andrew Maxwell overcame some serious early jitters to engineer the game-tying 80-yard TD drive with a shovel pass to Bell with just 1 minute left in regulation.  What was really smart, and the ES was yelling at the TV in overtime, was "just give the horse the ball" - and MSU did just that, with Bell having the first three carries in OT for 13 major yards setting up the winning TD pass.  Just smart playcalling.

Hopefully, this win gives the offense some mojo that they CAN SCORE in the remaining games. Arrrghhh!!! GO BIG GREEN!!!!

Look at the comparative grades - of Wisky by the Wisconsin State Journal, and of MSU by the Lansing State Journal:

Offense:  Wisky D-, MSU 5 of 10
Defense: Wisky B, MSU 10 of 10
Spec Teams: Wisky C+, MSU 7 of 10
Coaching: Wisky D, MSU 7 of 10
Overall: Wisky C-

Friday, October 26, 2012

ES Game Day Preview: MSU at Wisconsin

Michigan State Spartans (4-4/1-3) at #25 Wisconsin Badgers (6-2/3-1)
Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
3:30 ET. ABC.
Weather: 44 degrees, sunny.
Sagarin Rankings: MSU #40, Wisconsin #28
Line:  Wisconsin favored by 6

Nice article on the WIS-MSU rivalry by the AP.

Predictions:Vegas Insider WIS 24-20; ESPN Blog Rittenburg WIS 20-13, WIS 17-14; Freep Rexrode WIS 20-12, Sharp WIS 16-7, Seidel WIS 21-14; CFN/Scout WIS 24-16; JSOnlne has their own link to predictions....  shit, why do we even bother playing the game???

ES sez:  When was the last time Wisconsin was 6-2 and ranked just #25 in one poll, and not ranked in another?  Forever.  This Wisconsin team ain't the best ever, and the Spartans aren't even close to that level.  Wisky has won 21 at home in a row... so, it would be fitting for a disappointing Spartan team to take that victory.  A subpar Wisky team at home is rare, and that should be enuff for a MSU team with a really studly, top-10 ranked defense.  Of course, the whole game rests in the hands of Spartan QB Andrew Maxwell, who leads the #109-ranked scoring offense... he has GOT to get the goddam pigskin into the endzone...  Brett Bielema will do something stupid, and Dantonio will pull out a bag of tricks to win this one.

What the hell... MSU 19, WIS 15.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wisconsin favored by TD over Spartans; Wasting a good defense

The early line out of Vegas is that Wisconsin is a  6 point favorite at home over the Spartans.  Illinois is favored by 2 at home over Indiana; Purdue is favored by 3 1/2 at Minnesota; Northwestern is favored by 6 at home over Iowa; Penn State is favored by 2 at home over Ohio State; Nebraska is favored by 2 at home over Michigan.  What sucks is that with a MSU win over Michigan and with Penn State crushing Iowa, MSU really had a shot at still being in the hunt for the Big Ten title.  Now, it is just a goner... Woulda coulda shoulda....

OK, so the ES is tremendously disappointed by the outcome of the game vs Michigan.  Heck, if the third down toss by Maxwell makes another two yards, Michigan State runs out the clock.  If Marcus Rush gets to Robinson a 1/2 second earlier, Denard's pass doesn't make it.  Or, if MSU DBs covered Dileo a foot closer on the next to last play... game over.  Or, if Conroy had made his FG try earlier in the game, game over.  Or, if MSU would have gone for a TD instead of a FG deep in Michigan territory, game over... OR...

You get the point.  In all honesty, if these two teams met up 10 times, each would win five.  The teams were dead even. The Spartans are six points away from being 7-1.  Instead, this eerily is a S.O.S. drama playing out, and all of the luck from the past two years has been spent. 

The defense is as good, or better than advertised.  The Spartan defense is crushing opposing offenses... but the Spartan offense is the least productive in a generation.  It's too bad, what a waste of a good defense.

MSU played arguably its best game of the year on Saturday in the loss vs Michigan, but the offense again just can't seem to make the extra play to get into the end zone, or to continue drives.  Frustrating to watch, especially when there's a defense doing more than its fair share.

The season ain't over - MSU can still make a good run of it... the ES argues the remaining four games are against talent not as good as the Spartans.  But, the Spartans just don't have that killer instinct this year to close out games.  The last two years, it was Michigan State making plays at the end of the game to go out a winner. This year, it just isn't happening.  A win over Wisconsin would really help to cauterize the open-gash of a wound. 

Some of the fault is on Maxwell, who now is playing very similar to Kirk Cousins' play in his first year -- serviceable, getting things done at a minimum, but unable to be the playmaker to win games in the end. Maxwell had only one INT vs Michigan, but he missed many wide open receivers, and far too often settled for a safety valve (like the third down play which was short and led to giving the ball back to Michigan).  The wideouts actually played better catching the ball... but still the inability to separate consistently isn't helping out Maxwell's decision-making, either. 

But, also, give some blame to the Mark Dantonio. It is time to realize that when it is 4th-and-1 in enemy territory, the Spartans MUST go for it; they can't settle for a FG try because hit-or-miss, they need more points in the end.  In each of the three losses, MSU has settled for a FG try in short distance, and it has wound up costing them in the final minutes. The fake punt vs Michigan was a thing of beauty -- too bad we lost, 'cause that play is used for the year.  

What a bummer of a year.  And, what a waste of a perfectly fantastic defense. The ES would be happy with an 8-4 year, but that means Michigan State has to play a whole lot better on offense... and that starts with Maxwell.

Let's see if the Spartan offense can actually score 2 TDs in a game against a competitive defense -- starting at Wisconsin. MSU is gonna be dangerous in Madison... desperate for a win, like a starving wild cat boxed into a corner.  It's unfathomable to think MSU going 1-4 in the Big Ten and being 4-5 at this point.  Three losses by six points?  Ugh.  It's time to win a game, dammit.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


That hurt. Great defensive battle. A game settled by inches in the end. Congrats to Michigan for outlasting the Spartans. This one will sting for a year.

Live Chat: MSU at Michigan

Friday, October 19, 2012

ES Game Day Preview: MSU at Michigan

Michigan State Spartans (4-3/1-2) at #23/NR Michigan Arrogant A-Holes (4-2/2-0)
The Hell Hole, Ann Arbor.
3:30 ET.  BTN.
Weather: 53 degress, cloudy.
Sagarin Rankings: MSU #35, Michigan #15
Line:  Michigan by 10

Predictions: ESPN Blog: Rittenberg UM 24-16, Bennett UM 16-9; Tom UM 27-13, Brent UM 24-20;   Isportsweb UM 21-17;  Freep: Sharp UM 27-0, Seidel MSU 24-21, Snyder UM 30-14; CBSSports: UM 14-13; CFN/Scout: UM 24-20

After watching Saw 3 last night, the ES wonders if this is
the future of Roushar if he is brain-dead vs Michigan
ES sez:  Michigan State is actually better than everyone is predicting. Problem is, the coaching has really sucked on offense, and the execution on offense has been inconsistent at best.  And, when the defense has needed to make a final stand, it hasn't.  Is MSU getting worse while UM is getting better?

Luckily for the Spartans, they have a red-letter game to turn things around and shake up the nation.  If UM was REALLY good, I'd say the Spartans would get their butts kicked.  But the Wolverines are a sheep in wolves' clothing.  They aren't that great.  At this point, both teams are about even, with MSU underperforming and Michigan overperforming.  The one consistent recently is Michigan State defense dominating Michigan's offense the past four years. 

As the ES mentioned after the Iowa game, offensive coordinator Dan Roushar has been a major liability for MSU this year, using a 2009 playbook with 2012 raw talent. The cloudiness floating across the offense during games becomes cloudier as games go on because of Roushar's not putting players in positions to win. In sum, this year, it ain't working.  Is this the game to put it all together?

I dunno, the ES has been wrong all season.  Matt Millen called the Spartans' the biggest disappointment in the country, and while Millen was the biggest disappointment in the history of the Detroit Lions, he may be right here.  It will take a great defensive effort, minimizing mistakes, and for the offense to cash in early -- for once.

Denard Robinson will have his best game against MSU - maybe 70+ yards rushing, 200 yds passing... but he'll still make his mistakes.  The Spartan defense will show up and force a few turnovers.  Michigan's defense will do the same with Andrew Maxwell. But, can the Spartan offensive line be the difference maker for LeVeon Bell and MSU? Will Roushar handcuff the MSU offense with his over-thinking playcalling, or will he put the game in the hands of its best player (Bell)?  Lots of field goals and a crazy TD or two...

Thank God it's a rivalry game.  Make it: MSU 18, UM 16.

Below:  soaking wet at the end of MSU v Iowa.  This hurt bad to lose this one...

ES Game Day preview coming up

ES Game Day... working on it as I type.  Tough to get fired up for the Spartoonies this week, even with Michigan week. Why?  'Cause, as the ESPN bloggers note, Michigan State is the biggest disappointment in the Big Ten so far.

This year is so "Same Old Spartans" - makes the ES wonder if the last two years were a George Perles-ish flash in the pan, or if MD can actually get 'er going for the long haul.  This week's game is make-or-break for MSU.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wolverines by 10? Maybe

OK, the Wolverines are favored by 10 over the Spartans in Ann Arbor on Saturday.  Two weeks ago, this might have been a pick 'em, but the recent Spartan woes on offense have exposed a team on the ropes.  ES doesn't seen Michigan scoring more than 30, but can the Spartans score more than 10?  That's the million-dollar question.

This could be a tough one to watch if the Same Old Spartans show up.  Offensive Coordinator Dan Roushar has GOT to wake up and give his team a chance on offense, and give some relief to the defense. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

S.O.S.: Dan "Three Stooges" Roushar has got to go

I'm putting this one on the coaches, and mainly Offensive Coordinator Dan Roushar.  The 19-16 double OT loss to Iowa that was dominated for 58 minutes by MSU really is the last straw.  Even the Iowa fan at the Harrison Roadhouse called it "a miracle, We couldn't move the ball all game."  OK, the Michigan State defense should have made a stop on the last drive of regulation, as they had all game long.  But, let's get to the real problem.

Let's try MSU offensive confusion. Say, the botched field goal try at the end of the first half (umm, we never even got that far, running on and off the field in utter Three Stooges confusion reminiscent of John L Smith vs Ohio State).... or, the unbelievably stupid incomplete passes which stopped the clock with 5 minutes left at the end of the game and give Iowa a chance to come back... or, the even dumber call in double-OT for a pass on second and short in the driving rain across the middle in OT is high-risk at best... or, the wasted opportunity with confusion running guys in and out for a wildcat on the 5 yard line, only to call a time out and then settle for a field goal... or, all of the other confusion with substitutions in-between... Roushar has got to go. 

The guy, Roushar, was clueless about what to call all game long, and actually he's been clueless all year. 

The ES has realized that it was Kirk Cousins, BJ Cunningham and the unbelievable skilled talent that bailed out Roushar since former OC Treadwell left.  With the rawness at the skill levels this year, Roushar's questionable play calling is being exposed. The most frustrating part is that the one guy who can help the Spartans, Le'Veon Bell, is a guy Roushar doesn't turn to when we - and he - can use him most... like in double-OT yesterday.

Note to Roushar:  Knock off the John-L-Smith-like outsmarting yourself, and use the talent that works, especially at the most challenging times. And, KISS - keep it simple, stupid.  Your wild guesses and inopportune pass calls sure are making it harder on yourself, and especially the team.

If I wasn't so drenched in cold rain, I would have laughed.  In what started out as a season of hope, Andrew Maxwell staring blinding into space at the end of the game says it all:  what a waste.  With a murderers row coming up next of Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Northwestern... I'm not so sure if this Spartan team can win half its games by year's end and qualify for the Meineke Car Care Bowl.  

What a waste.  Congrats to Iowa - you've got what the Spartans don't: moxie.  This year's Spartans are searching for an identity. This year's Spartans look to be another chapter in the never-ending saga of Same Old Spartans

Friday, October 12, 2012

ES Game Day Preview: Iowa at MSU

Iowa Hawkeyes (3-2/1-0) at Michigan State Spartans (4-2/2-1)
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
Noon ET.  ESPN.
Weather: 50 degress, rain. A great day for football!
Sagarin Rankings: MSU #35, Iowa #55
Line:  MSU favored by 7-1/2

Predictions:  ESPN Blog: Bennett MSU 17-14, Rittenburg MSU 21-17.  Black Heart Gold Pants Iowa 20-17. CFN/Scout:  MSU 17-13. Freep: Rexrode MSU 17-10, Sharp MSU 24-21, Seidel MSU 17-14

ES sez:  Looking to a great game in the cold rain.  Bring your poncho.  Should be a defensive battle.  MSU figures the defense will pick it up a notch and will force some turnovers.  Look for 100+ total yards (ground and receiving) out of Bell... Besides, I hate the Ugly Chickens. Note: Sims is out at TE, and Treadwell is tentative on the OL.   MSU 17, Iowa 13.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Winning ugly; Spartan homecoming a 10-pt fave over Iowa

Well, ain't nothin' pretty about the nasty 31-27 win at Indiana on Saturday.  Coach Dantonio has plenty to be concerned about as his team spotted the Hoosiers a 17-pt lead before waking up and then shutting out Indy 17-0 in the second half to go away victorious.  Note: MSU had the ball deep in Hoosier territory as they ran out the clock to end the game, maybe 38-27 is a bit more accurate.

ES said that Le'Veon Bell would have a tough time running, and sure enough had only 121 yards... and it took him 37 carries, good for a visibly-tough 3.3 yards per run.  And, the ES also predicted a big day out of Maxwell, who had 290 yards through the air.  Further, the ES figured on the Big Green stuffing the Hoosier running game -- for just 35 total yards on the ground.

What the ES didn't figure was the Michigan State passing defense, which fell asleep early, giving up three scoring drives totaling 215 yards in the first quarter.  And, four personal fouls including a roughing the punter call.  Just a very very dumb and out-of-sync MSU team.  BUT, Indiana can learn a thing here:  'tis better to be good in the 4th quarter than in the 1st quarter.

What does this spell?  Trouble, right here in River City, that's trouble with a capital T.   In every game, this Michigan State team sleep walks through the first 25-30 minutes.  They better wake up and get focused or otherwise will piss the season away.  The pass defense played like arse in the first half, but played well in the 4th quarter.    The potential loss via injury of Dion Sims at TE is huge - but it was nice to see Aaron Burbridge come of age with a huge game, 8 catches for 134 yards. He likely has stolen the starting spot from Tony Lippett.

Right now, the ES would say an 8-4 or 7-5 season is more likely... with difficult stints coming up vs Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, and Northwestern.  The way MSU has been playing, we'd be lucky to win a pair of those.  But, first things first... a crappy Iowa team comes to town.  Time to wake up.

MSU is favored by 10 over the Ugly Chickens -- The ES hain't confident the Spartans can score 10 against anyone. Purdue is favored by 1 hosting Wisconsin. Northwestern is favored by 3-1/2 at Minnesota. Michigan is favored by a whopping 21 at home over Illinois.  Ohio State is favored by 17-1/2 at Indiana.

The Spartans did themselves no favors in the polls with their lackluster performance at Bloomington.  They remain on the outside looking in. The AP poll is below; what IS interesting is that in the USA Today coaches poll, not a single Big Ten team is ranked... first time EVER. 

AP Top 25
1Alabama (60)5-01500
3South Carolina6-01359
5West Virginia5-01260
6Kansas State5-01217
7Notre Dame5-01176
8Ohio State6-01053
10Oregon State4-0873
12Florida State5-1800
19Mississippi State5-0450
22Texas A&M4-1153
23Louisiana Tech5-0129
24Boise State4-1114
  • Dropped from rankings: TCU 15, Nebraska 21, Washington 23, Northwestern 24, UCLA 25
  • Others receiving votes: Ohio 79, Baylor 62, Iowa State 54, TCU 50, Michigan State 49, Arizona State 39, Washington 39, North Carolina State 17, Nebraska 5, Arizona 4, Duke 3, Tennessee 3, Texas Tech 2, Tulsa 2, Penn State 1, Northwestern 1

Friday, October 05, 2012

ES Game Day Preview: MSU at Indiana

Michigan State Spartans (3-2/0-1) at Indiana Hoosiers (2-2/0-1)
Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN
Noon ET.  BTN.
Weather: 56 degress, partly cloudy
Sagarin Rankings: MSU #31, Indiana #89
Line:  MSU favored by14-1/2

Predictions: ESPN Blog Bennett MSU 28-13, Rittenberg MSU 34-20; CFN/Scout MSU 30-14; Freep Rexrode MSU 34-9, Sharp MSU 24-10, Seidel MSU 31-10; Indiana Daily Student MSU 35-10; Tom MSU 44-20, Brent MSU 37-10

ES sez:  Should be a yawner; the Hoosiers will put 8 in the box to stop Bell, and it still won't be enough.  I figure Bell may get 150 on 30 carries, but won't get 200 yards because of the Hoosiers schemeing... but Maxwell may throw for 350 -- even with poor Spartan receivers.   MSU defense should tee-off and have a field day with Indiana. Of note: Spartans are the only team in the nation to play three ranked teams among first five games.  Final prediction: MSU 38, Indiana 10.