Friday, October 19, 2012

Preview And Prediction: Michigan State

Beat State.

That's the simple slogan making it's way around social media as we near closer to the storied rivalry against Michigan State. And there isn't too much story behind it. The Spartans are at a four game winning streak against the Wolverines, and an upset Saturday in the Big House would give them a school record five straight.

That can't happen, can it?

Well, I guess it just depends on who decided to follow these simple keys to the game.


The Wolverines are off to a great start in the Big Ten and, as coach Hoke put it, all of the team's goals are still in tact. Denard Robinson is doing what he wants at will. The defense has been shut down. It's all clicking at the right time.

1. Don't Change A Thing

These last two weeks have almost been carbon copies of each other. Denard Robinson isn't throwing the ball as much as he was earlier in the season, and a run by committee scheme is putting the Wolverines rush offense right back to where we're used to.

Why change it?

Unless the Spartans come out and run their defense to perfection so Robinson and company simply can't move the ball on the ground, Al Borges should do nothing to change their scheme of late.

One thing I would like to see from Michigan this week is the use of a premier back. Again, if that's something that Michigan State is stopping, switch things up. But why not strive for something Al Borges has been trying to emphasise since arriving in Ann Arbor? In my opinion, that premier back is Thomas Rawls, but that's for a different debate.

2. Stop Le'Veon Bell

When it comes to the Spartans this year, this team lives and dies by the play of Le'Veon Bell, and even that isn't enough sometimes. Needless to say, they need this kid to be pumping in order to beat to beat Michigan, especially with the Wolverine's strong defense.

So how does Michigan stop him?

Honestly, Bell is too good of a back to be completely stopped. We should understand the circumstances having Denard Robinson behind center. But the Wolverine front has been outstanding lately, and the linebackers have been just as good.

It will be up to guys like Jake Ryan and Kenny Demens to shut down Bell. And when you shut down Bell, you shut down Michigan State.

Michigan State

The Spartans are trying desperately to put the train back on the tracks and find the momentum that carried them into this season. Le'Veon Bell is headlining a Michigan State team that is looking for its fifth straight win against Michigan.

1. Run, Run, Run, Then Pass... Maybe

It's no secret that Le'Veon Bell is the life line of the Spartans. We've seen it week after week. There was a lot of hype surrounding first year starter Andrew Maxwell, but it has since died out.

As it stands right now, the Michigan pass defense is ranked second in the nation. A team's best chance is to stick it in the hands of the running back and tell the line to push, push, push. Open up holes. Maybe get Bell to the outside some, but, for the most part, let him try to pound it up the middle. That's where Michigan State has its best chance to find success.

2. Stack The Box

Through the past two games, Denard Robinson has only thrown the ball 27 times. Granted he is completing a high percentage of those passes and didn't throw an interception in that span, but the focus of the Michigan offense is obvious: run.

Run up the middle, get to the edge, they're different chapters in the same book of how to run the football, which the Wolverines seem to have figured out pretty well right now.

Michigan State needs to stack the box to counter. Michigan has many ways to beat a defense on the ground, but stacking that box really puts a limit on what Denard Robinson and company can do.


I'm perfect in predictions this season; remember that. I'll take Michigan, 41-10.

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