Location: East Lansing
Weather: High 56 Partly Cloudy
Line: Michigan +2
The key match-ups in this game are very clear to me.
#1: Denard's Arm vs the Green and
#2: Michigan D vs The Spartans Running Backs
MSU's offensive game plans this year in big games have been terrible. MSU has a very solid defense and ranked #1 in the nation in some categories. Thier defense played well enough to beat ND but their offense had serious issues. Dantonio's game plans are always the same. Don't forget he coached under the "Vest" (I wonder what type of "raffles" they run in East Lansing?) and MSU will be pretty Vanilla on offense. MSU wants to run the ball, which they did very effectively in Ann Arbor last year and throw the ball to Cunningham. Cousins is not particularly good when he has to throw the ball and State's offensive line is really bad and the reason why State has not got their running game going yet so far this year.
State has had a two week rest since they beat OSU in Columbus and I am betting they spent 90% of their time on offense on blocking and getting the running game going and 90% on defense on stopping Denard. The game plan is crystal clear for the Spartans; run the ball, stop denard, pass to Cunningham and maybe fake a field goal.
State has a decent defense and like all decent defenes they will try to take away Michigan's/Denard running game. They will ask Denard to beat them with his arm. MSU has a pretty strong DL with Worthy and Gholsten. That DL made it impossible for OSU to do anything productive on offense.
(BTW: Brian Kelly was on ESPN last night and was asked about the Michigan - MSU game since he played both teams. His two comments were Denard is hard to stop and Greg Mattison has the defense putting pressure on the QB - Nothing on MSU)
Tale of the Tape:
Mich O Line vs MSU D line = MSU
M WR vs MSU Secondary = Push
Denard's vs Int = Michigan's chances for a W
Mich D Line vs MSU O Line = Martin and Big Will
Countess vs Cunningham = MSU
Intangibles = Push (MSU at home, Brady game 1 vs. Sparty, Michigan seniors don't want to leave losing to MSU 4 years in a row)
These are one of those heart vs head games for me. I clearly want Michigan to win but I also saw how MSU and other good defenses stopped Denard last year. Denard will have to pass to open the run and that hasn't been his strength at times this year. If he starts throwing picks the game will be over and over soon.
On the other hand, MSU's offensive line is the worst unit on the field. Michigan will try to pressure Cousins and shut down State's running game. If Michigan fails in either one of those two things, they won't win. Even though Cousins isn't that great when he has to pass, he is a senior and has an NFL worthy WR to throw to against a young and banged up Michigan secondary.
Sing Hail to the Victors if..............................
- Denard doesn't turn the ball over
- Big Al has a "great" game plan
- Michigan's Offensive Line holds up against MSU's D line
- Michigan's pressure on Defense flusters Cousin all day
- Michigan D doesn't give up big plays in the running or passing game
- Cousins and Cunningham go over 100 yards through the air
- Denard starts throwing picks
- State's OLine has their best game of the year
- State's running backs are finding holes and go over 150 yards
- Michigan has 2 sacks or less
I look for someone like Kevin Koger to have a big day and be the difference. So do I go with my Head or Heart? I have faith that Borges and Mattison can out coach Dantonio's crew. I expect a low scoring game and both offenses will look lost at times. Heart wins.
Michigan 21 MSU 13