Sunday, October 27, 2013

MSU favored by 3-1/2 vs Michigan; Daily Illini on Spartans: "let all the ugliness out"

Notably, #24 Michigan State is a very early 3-1/2 point favorite over the #23 Wolverines next week in the game of the year in EL.  Indiana is favored by 7 at home over Minnesota. Nebraska is favored by 7 at home over Northwestern. #22 Wisconsin is favored by 7 at Iowa. Penn State is favored by 10 at home over Illinois.  And, #4 Ohio State is favored by, gulp, 31 at Purdue.

As for yesterday... Wow.  The ES heard a bit of the game on the radio, but looking at the statistics from the Spartans' 42-3 punishment of Illinois was impressive.  At a place that claims itself as the originator of the first collegiate homecoming, the Illini faithful likely should have waltzed passed Memorial Stadium, as it was the sight of an embarrassing whipping courtesy of Michigan State.  As written by the Daily Illini, "It was a few plays here and there that slowly peeled the lid off this game and let all the ugliness out."  An ugly homecoming at Illinois.  Beautiful.
The Spartans finishing their last six possessions with TDs?  Wow. A goal-line defensive stand turning into a 99-yard TD drive?  Well, golly! Cook 15-of 16 for 208 yards with 3 TDs.  Langford with 104 of Michigan State's Pound-Green-Pound 269-25 rushing yardage advantage.  The vastly-underrated but oft-important statistic of domination -- third down conversion -- was, 14-of-16???  Is that a typo?  And, nearly double the possession time (39 to 21 minutes).  My God.  Wow.  And, the defensive stats are even more impressive.  Giving up just 128 total yards (25 on rushing).  Total of 477-128 total  yards.  Ouch.  This is a defining performance that should finally vault MSU into the top 25 (posting update: MSU is in the AP Poll at #24, see bottom of this post).  Stats are below.

1st Downs298
Total Yards477128
3rd Down Conversions14-163-10
4th Down Conversions0-00-1

Associated Press Top 25 - week of Oct 27, 2013
1Alabama (55)8-01495
2Oregon (3)8-01432
3Florida State (2)7-01390
4Ohio State8-01317
7Miami (FL)7-01149
12Texas A&M6-2811
14South Carolina6-2701
15Texas Tech7-1579
16Fresno State7-0510
18Oklahoma State6-1483
21Northern Illinois8-0290
24Michigan State7-1166
25Arizona State5-2133
  • Dropped from rankings: Virginia Tech 16, Nebraska 25
  • Others receiving votes: Notre Dame 132, Georgia 24, Brigham Young 22, Texas 22, Ole Miss 21, Virginia Tech 20, Oregon State 17, Florida 14, Washington 6, Minnesota 4, Ball State 4, Arizona 2, Duke 2

Saturday, October 26, 2013

ES Game Day: MSU to defeat Illini

Unfortunately, the ES is at a family funeral this week.  But, a quick prediction:

MSU 23, Illinois 17

Go Big Green Touchdown Machine!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Michigan State a 13 point fave at Illinois after 14-0 blanking of Purdue; MSU defense ranks #1!!!!

The 6-1/3-0 Michigan State Spartans, fresh off their blanking of Purdue, and will likely crack the Top 25 when the polls are announced,  are an early 13 point favorite at 3-3/0-2 Illinois according to the early Vegas line.  Iowa is favored by 3 home over Northwestern; Nebraska by 8-1/2 at Minnesota; Ohio State by 14-1/2 home over Penn State.

The Spartans shutout Purdue, 14-0, in what was the ugliest performance from Connor Cook this season.  Michigan State's defense gave up a few big plays between the 20s, but did not allow Purdue to get any closer than the 25 yard line all game long - that is ZERO red zone opportunities for the Boilermakers.  The Spartan defense gave up just 226 total yards, just 66 rushing yards on 34 attempts (1.9 average).  Max Bullough's stat sheet lit up like a XMas tree: 10 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 forced fumble (returned for a TD), 1 sack, and 1 QB hurry.  Nice.

Spartan RB Jeremy Langford looked very good, running for 131 yards on 24 carries (5.5 average).  State had 182 yards on the ground.  The offensive line opened up some nice holes all game long.

As for our QB, Cook wasn't close to having an INT... he wasn't close to hitting on half of his throws.  Cook looked terrible and consistently missed wide open receivers on third down.  Heck, even though the Spartan offense looked good on its only TD drive, a 9-play 73 yard drive in the 4th quarter, Cook didn't throw the TD pass... it was WR Tony Lippett throwing the pass on an end around.   Cook was 13-of-25 for 107 yards.  Before that final drive, Cook had just 33 yards passing on the day. The ES would give Cook a "D" grade for his performance on Saturday.  Two steps forward, one step back for Cook.

1st Downs1421
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Yards226294
Yards per pass
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown

Statistically, MSU's defense is certainly the best in the nation. Through Oct 19 games, this is where Michigan State ranks nationally:

Category,  Rank,  Statistic
Total Defense, #1, 228.0 ypg
Rushing Defense, #1, 59.1 ypg
Passing Yards Allowed, #4, 168.9 ypg
Team Passing Efficiency Defense, #1, 88.41
Scoring Defense, #4, 13.6 ppg
3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense, #3, 27.3%
First Downs Defense, #1, 13.4 pg
Time of Possession, #4, 34:11

The ES has gotta print the Big Ten standings, with Michigan State on top of the Legends through the first three Big Ten games.

Big Ten - LegendsCONFOVERALL
* - Michigan State3-06-1
* - Michigan2-16-1
Big Ten - LeadersCONFOVERALL
* - Ohio State3-07-0
x - Penn State1-14-2

And, here are some nice photos by the ES of Saturday's victory over the Boilermakers.  After the first quarter, it stopped raining and turned out to be a beautiful, 55-and sunny fall game.  Indeed, the weather was nicer than the Spartan offense....

Second quarter backed up on our 10...

 Second quarter struggles...

 Beginning to see some sunlight...


 Third quarter defense bends bud doesn't break...

 4th quarter lineup for our only offensive TD...

Friday, October 18, 2013

ES Game Day: Spartans will derail the Boilers

Michigan State Spartans (5-1, 2-0) host Purdue Boilermakers (1-5, 0-2)

Time:  12 pm ET
Location:  Spartan Stadium, E.L.
Weather:  48 and light rain.
Line: MSU by 24

  • ESPN:  Rittenberg, MSU 31-7;  Bennett, MSU 34-6
  • BTN: Bardo, MSU 31-10; Merriman, MSU 31-0; Yarina, MSU 41-3; Dienhart, MSU 45-0
  • CFN/Scout: MSU 45-10
  • Freep:   Rexrode, MSU 34-3; Sharp, MSU 38-13; Seidel, MSU 38-10
  • Hammer and Rails: Crespo, MSU 30-3; Van Gessel, MSU 38-6; T-Mill, MSU 45-0
ES sez:  Love this stat out of the ESPN boys: "Offenses don't stay on the field long when they're playing Michigan State. The Spartans boast the nation's top defense, statistically, when it comes to yards allowed -- but there's a much more interesting stat behind that one. Mark Dantonio's squad has forced opponents to three-and-outs on 40 of 82 possessions, which is also the nation's best. Teams are averaging 6.7 three-and-outs per game when they're forced to go up against Michigan State."

As bad as MSU's offense was earlier this season, Purdue has managed to provide arguably the worst offense in the country.  Going up against the best defense in the country in Michigan State is not a good sign.  Then, when you read Indiana news services pondering if this is "the worst Purdue team ever"... well, don't need to take much more time here. It's not the matter of a victory, but how bad will it be?

Not a shutout, because the Spartans will put in the scrubs late.  Nebraska won 44-7.  Sounds about right.

Make it: MSU 38, Purdue 7.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

MSU favored by 24 vs Purdue; Mike Sadler's punt crushes Hoosier hopes

After the 42-28 pounding by Michigan State over Indiana yesterday, the bookies make the Spartans an early 24-point home fave over the lowly Boilermakers from Purdue.  Michigan's crushing 4-OT defeat yesterday to Penn State doesn't stop it from being a 10-pt fave over Indiana next week. Ohio State is favored by 17 over Iowa. And, Wisconsin is favored by 10 at Illinois.

Wow, MSU with nearly 500 yards of offense yesterday?  42 points?  I didn't think it was possible.  Incredible, particularly the 238 yards on the ground and a blistering 10-for-14 (71%) efficiency on third down.

The ES really likes Delton Williams, a big body at RB that we needed desperately.  12 carries, 92 yards, and a 7.7 average.  He ran fantastic.  4 TDs and 109 yards on the ground from RB Jeremy Langford. Tony Lippett at WR had his best day as a Spartan, with 6 catches for 64 yards.  The ES really loved that 34 yard TD sprint on the end-around run by RJ Shelton. Wow, what a burst of speed.  And, the defense?  After giving up a 64 yard run in the first minute, they gave up a whopping 28 yards on 26 carries for the rest of the game (total of 92 yards on the ground for Indiana). That's just domination. 

The most hilarious play of the day?  With MSU leading 42-21 early in the 4th quarter, Indiana got greedy. They received one of the few Spartan punts at their own 35, but MSU was called for an illegal motion.  Instead of taking the ball at the 35, they forced the Spartans to punt over.  Tisk, tisk. All-American Mike Sadler responded with a 69 yard punt, and Indiana instead started at its own 4.  That defined the afternoon, and that ended any chance the Hoosiers had.  The ES was roaring with laughter.  Indiana coach Kevin Wilson just flat-out blew it with that bone-headed decision.

Some photos are below.  Also,  enjoy the stats:

1st Downs1924
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Yards351473
Yards per pass
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown

What a beautiful, 75 degree and sunny October day for football!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

MSU Homecoming Parade

In case you missed it, check out the ES' video of the Spartan marching band at the MSU Homecoming Parade:

Friday, October 11, 2013

ES Game Day: bring on dem Hoosiers!

Michigan State Spartans (4-1, 1-0) host Indiana Hoosiers (3-2, 1-0)

Time:  12 pm ET
Location:  Spartan Stadium, E.L.
Weather:  72 and sunny.  Wow.
Line: MSU by 9 1/2

ES sez:  The reality is great defense always trumps great offense.  Michigan State has and will play great offenses, has and will stall all of them.  This includes Indiana's #9 offense in the nation.  Thus, attention turns to the Spartan offense vs the Indiana defense. Watch the Spartan defense give plenty of time for its offense to work its way with an average-to-poor Indiana defense.  We don't need a lot, but we'll get enough. 

Make it:  MSU 31, Indiana 11. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Spartans favored by 9 1/2 over Indiana; HawkCentral notes "humblng day" for Iowa

Out of Vegas the bookies have early odds in the Big Ten for next Saturday.   The Spartans are 9 1/2 point favorites in their homecoming against Indiana on Saturday.  Also in the Big Ten: Nebraska by 13 1/2 at Purdue; Wisconsin by 10 hosting Northwestern; and, Michigan by 3 at Penn State;

Michigan State did not move into the Top 25 this week.  But, with Indiana, Purdue, and Illinois on deck.... as this Spartan offense surges, a 7-1/4-0 record entering the Michigan game is a distinct possibility.

On the Iowa game:  nice recap by Rexrode at the Freep.  The ES loves checking out opponent newspapers after the Big Green whomps an opponent.  That said, read Rick Brown at Hawk Central. 
  • Love this gem: "Saturday, Michigan State punter Mike Sadler rushed for more yards than the Hawkeyes did. The Spartans came into the game second nationally in rush defense, allowing just 53.5 yards a game. That average will drop. Iowa could never establish the run."
  • And this one: "It was a humbling day for the Hawkeyes’ offensive line. Asked if he took it personally that a team had stopped what Iowa does best, left offensive tackle Brandon Scherff had a short, and telling, answer.  “‘Yeah,’” Scherff said, his head down.
If you didn't see it, read the ES gushing about the Spartan win.  

Spartans slap around Iowa in big win

ES will chime in more tomorrow.... WE WON!  26-14 over Iowa (yes, that is 26 points, all by the offense!) But, my God, other than a five-minute snooze, the Michigan State Spartan football defense put up a wall against the Iowa offense, in Iowa City. The absolute domination by the MSU defense, as predicted by the ES, allowed the offense some flexibility to get it done. 

Some quick comments: nice, nice, nice job by MD keeping with the run in this game.  Just keep what is going well to set up plays.  Connor Cook?  By far, by FAR the best game of his career.  Wow, the dude just played great, making some solid calls and throws in a hostile environment.  He was 25-44 for 277, and all of those numbers surprise me.  Hawaii Five-O's own Steve McGarrett Kings caught five for 92, but Bennie Fowler had his career day, and we needed it, with NINE catched for 92 yards.  MSU receivers caught their passes today... and it made the offense explode.

MSU outpassed Iowa 277-241... but outrushed Iowa 135-23. That's right, just 23 yards on the ground allowed to Iowa.  THAT IS THE STAT OF THE GAME.

The Spartans dominated this game from beginning to end, and a slight snafu in the second period did not deter the Big Green.  Methinks we have a great shot at getting to the championship game in the Legends if we play like this.

Two final points before I go to bed:

1.  The fake punt by Sadler on the first play of the 4th quarter was brilliant.  Big Bob and the ES discussed this extensively before the play, wondering if MD would do it - but thinking he wouldn't just because of the success of the MSU defense.  But, Sadler ran 24 yards and that drive consumed an additional 1:22 of game time and we ended up with 3 points.  Good, good play call.

2. Who the hell is Delton Williams?  Nine carries, 32 yards, LOVE HIM.

3.  MSU defense gives up just 264 total yards, and just 4-15 (27%) on third downs.  And it goes on.  The Spartan defense is just too good!  LOVED LOVED LOVED watching that defense just dominate Iowa play after play after play.  A big time wow.

More tomorrow, but the Spartans are in GREAT SHAPE to make a run.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Bowl projections look terrible for B1G Ten

Wow, based on the projections by BTN's Tom Deinhart, the ES isn't so bullish on the Big Ten's chances in bowls.  This game by MSU really can make or break whether or not MSU plays in a premium bowl, or a toilet bowl. Right now, Deinhart has the Spartans in a toilet bowl.

Here is what the ES thinks with his prediction of a, gulp, ugly 3-6 Big Ten result:

BCS title game, Jan. 6 BCS No 1 vs. No. 2 Ohio State vs. Alabama (LOSS)
Rose Bowl, Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. BCS/Pac-12 Northwestern vs. Oregon (LOSS)
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. SEC Wisconsin vs. Georgia (LOSS)
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. SEC Michigan vs. Florida (LOSS)
Gator Bowl, Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. SEC Nebraska vs. Ole Miss (WIN)
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Iowa vs. Baylor (WIN)
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Michigan State vs. Texas (LOSS)
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. C-USA Illinois vs. Rice (WIN)
Little Caesars Pizza, Dec. 26 Big Ten vs. MAC Minnesota vs. Ohio (LOSS)

ES Game Day: MSU and Iowa won't score 25 points COMBINED

Now that's an ugly Hawkeye.
MSU Spartans (3-1, 0-0) at
Iowa Ugly Chickens (4-1, 1-0)

Time:  12 pm ET
Location:  Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
Weather:  66 and clowdy
Line: MSU by 1


ES sez:  Let's be honest.  Anyone who is picking either Michigan State or Iowa to score more than 17 points is stoned or just not paying attention. These are the two best defenses in the B1G Ten, and they both lack explosive offenses.  Iowa has shown far more efficiency and balance on offense that MSU's offense.  The Chicken running game has asserted itself well, with Mark Weisman gaining 615 yards on 119 carries (5.2 per rush); their QB, Jake Rudock's numbers are an envy of Spartan QBs, with 62% completions and 6 TDs to 4 INTs.

But, the Spartan defense is the BEST in America, especially against the run, giving up just 58 yards per game and 2.0 yards per rush.  The Spartans gave up only 82 yards rushing to Notre Dame.   MSU is only giving up 130 passing yards through the air on average... that is a stingy average of 188 total yards per game allowed by the MSU defense, best in USA.  MSU forced ND into 14-of-34 passing (41%), and are allowing opponents just a 36% completion percentage through the air.  Third Downs?  MSU is giving up just 21%.  Furthermore, the Spartan D is making plays, giving up just 4 passing and 2 rushing TDs, while snagging 8 turnovers.  They have 9 sacks on the season, 24 tackles for loss, and 28 pass break ups.  That is an all-around impressive effort:  lots of pressure up front, good job plugging the holes, and tight coverage in the secondary. These numbers are beyond impressive, and MSU will show the nation once again how a defense can dominate against the Ugly Chickens.

On the flip side, there is no team in America that has beat itself on offense as often as the Spartans.  Sure, MD was bone-headed in the last game, making critically poor decisions at the worst times.  Expect Dantonio to be more deliberate and patient with his use of the offensive line and the MSU running game.  The Spartans are improving in the running game, and it showed against Notre Dame. MSU is averging 186 on the ground per game, and 4.6 per carry.  But, Iowa's defense is giving up on average just 79 yards and 2.9 per carry on the season. It may be 3 yards a carry, but methinks we'll see more of the Spartan offense on the ground without the nonsense reverses or wildcat that was called at the wrong time, without their best players, during the ND game.

For MSU, Connor Cook at QB is the most nimble of foot among four bad choices, and he is completing just 53% of his passes... with a long of a measly 26 yards. Spartan wideouts have dropped countless passes in big games, and this must be corrected.  Iowa is giving up 186 yards per game through the air, but has 8 INTs on the season.  With two weeks to prepare, the Spartan coaches better have pulled together a more thoughtful offensive gameplan, focused on a more determined running game, that puts the players in the best position to win.

First team to 13 points wins the game.  That will be the Spartans.  They'll get just enough offense, and plenty of defense.

Final score:  MSU 13, Ugly Chickens 9.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Iowa: Feelin' groovy or downward spiral

ES is crazy busy at work, and at play. 

So, now the Big Green is favored by 1 over Iowa.  It started out this week with the Ugly Chickens a 1-1/2 point favorite over the Spartans.  With the two best defenses in the B1G Ten, the over/under has to be around 25.  So, the bookies are bullish on the Spartans.  Hmmm. 

ES  is feeling good about this game... with two weeks to prepare, the offense will never be better repaired than now.  Otherwise, as Joe Rexrode wrote, it might be a deal-breaker for the year and cause a downward spiral.

ES sez the first team to 13 wins.