2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - FAU at Michigan State
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Sept. 10 Michigan State 44 ... Florida Atlantic 0
CFN Analysis: The Michigan State defense was dialed in. No. Florida Atlantic isn’t anything special, but to only allow 48 yards of total offense and one first down is the stuff of legend. The offense put the game away with one drive, and it showed a smart, balanced attack that appeared to be almost perfectly tuned up and ready for the showdown against Notre Dame. Kirk Cousins was sharp, and his receivers are doing a great job with B.J. Cunningham coming up with a great start to the season and Keshawn Martin coming up with a good game with seven catches for 72 yards. This was as good an effort as any Big Ten team has come up with so far.
It’s back to the drawing board for the Owls. The defense didn’t do much of anything against the balanced MSU attack, but the biggest problem is an offense that’s doing absolutely nothing thanks to a miserable start to the season from the line. There’s zero push for the running game whatsoever, and quarterbacks David Kooi and Graham Wilbert weren’t even close combining to complete 6-of-13 passes for 26 yards. One first down, 0-for-10 on third downs, and more penalty yards (55) than total yards (48); the team needs a week off.
(AP) EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Kirk Cousins threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 17 Michigan State held Florida Atlantic to one first down in a 44-0 victory over the Owls on Saturday.
B.J. Cunningham caught five passes for 73 yards, breaking a tie with Matt Trannon for Michigan State's career lead in receptions. The Spartans (2-0) led 27-0 at halftime and ended up outgaining FAU 434-48.
The Owls (0-2) have scheduled a brutal opening month. They opened at Florida and play at Auburn in two weeks.
Cousins finished 16 of 21, and backup Andrew Maxwell also played quite a bit.
Michigan State has held an opponent to one first down only one other time -- against Maryland in 1944.
Michigan State beat Youngstown State 28-6 in its season opener but didn't pull away until well into the second half. The Spartans looked much sharper against FAU. Cunningham entered the game even with Trannon at 148 catches, but he had two receptions on Michigan State's first drive to take sole possession of first place on that list.
Edwin Baker capped that drive with a 9-yard touchdown run, and Le'Veon Bell added a 2-yard scoring run late in the quarter to make it 14-0.
Dan Conroy equaled his career best with a 50-yard field goal that made it 17-0, then added a 41-yarder.
Cousins made it 27-0 with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Dion Sims with 12 seconds remaining in the half, and the senior quarterback caught a bit of a break in the third quarter when his fourth-down pass went through the hands of FAU's Keith Reaser and was caught by Garrett Celek for an 8-yard touchdown.
The Spartans were uncharacteristically shaky on special teams in their opener, but Keshawn Martin provided a boost Saturday with a nifty 35-yard punt return in the second quarter that helped set up Sims' last-minute touchdown.
Conroy did miss a 28-yard field goal in the third quarter, hitting the left upright. Backup kicker Kevin Muma made a field goal from the same distance in the fourth to make it 37-0.
FAU quarterback Graham Wilbert went 4 of 10 for 15 yards, and the Owls couldn't run the ball either against Michigan State's tough defensive front. In the fourth quarter, FAU's Xavier Stinson ran for 14 yards and what would have been the Owls' second first down -- but he fumbled, and Michigan State's Jeremy Langford returned it 37 yards for a touchdown and a 44-0 lead.
The only FAU first down came in the second quarter, when backup quarterback David Kooi threw an 8-yard pass to DeAndre Richardson on second-and-4.
FAU will have a much-needed open date next weekend, while the Spartans play at Notre Dame.
Florida Atlantic (0-1) at Michigan State (1-0) Sept 10, 12:00
Here’s The Deal … The Spartans spent Week One against Youngstown State in sleepwalk mode for a heavy majority of it. The first half was sloppy and penalty ridden, and the second half provided more discipline, and no, the bowl beat down by Alabama neither provided motivation or a hangover.
This week offers another low-risk opportunity for Sparty to get on track in an afternoon tilt against a Florida Atlantic team that doesn’t have the defensive bulk to hold up, and doesn’t have the firepower to keep up the pace.
For the Owls, it’ll take several major breaks to make this close, and at the very least, they have get in the end zone after getting blown out by Florida last week. Howard Schnellenberger’s program could use a positive shot in the arm, and battling MSU might do it.
Why Florida Atlantic Might Win: Michigan State didn’t offer much resistance to Youngstown State for a heavy portion of the game, and FAU, despite missing the talent needed to pull off the win, can move better than the Spartan’s Week One opponent. FAU won the turnover battle handily against Florida, and didn’t turn the ball over a single time, and needs to be at least +3 this week, and has to take advantage of all the opportunities, to have a shot.
Michigan State has a major plus with Jerel Worthy and the defensive line, but FAU’s O line is its biggest strength and could hold its own, even if it doesn’t generate a big push for the ground game. The confidence from the coaching staff that they can hang with this particular team should also resonate, as it was only a year ago where they lost in East Lansing by a meek 13 points, and Schnellenberger always believes that his team can battle with anyone.
Michigan State Might Win: Under Mark Dantonio against mid-major opponents, MSU is 8-1 with an average victory margin of nearly 27 points. This will be the team’s third game against FAU, with the first two relatively close, but the result was never in doubt; this year’s Owl team isn’t nearly as good as the other two that lost to the Spartans.
MSU typically plays it close to the vest, and while Florida killed the Owls more speed last week, MSU is a little more polished, led by senior QB Kirk Cousins and a passing game that had no problems in the opener and should be able to pick clean a secondary that struggled so much with the Gators. MSU likes to get in and get out of these sacrificial lamb type of games, and likely will just simply pound the ball between the tackles on the way to the easy win. FAU isn’t big or deep enough to deter anything MSU will want to do.
What To Watch Out For: The star Spartan defensive tackle had a slow game against YSU, but the projected first round NFL draft pick is due to start gumming up the works a bit more. While he wasn’t always great last week, he showed why he’s a standout on special teams coming up with a blocked kick. With injury questions surrounding the Spartan pass rush, this is Worthy’s time to shine; expect him to do so.
What Will Happen: This is MSU’s last tune up before the annual rivalry game with Notre Dame, and it’ll be a far sharper performance than last week’s win. Expect more of typical MSU football with the stable of running backs controlling the game a bit more than it did last week, and with less of an emphasis on the passing game. Dantonio won’t reveal much of his bag of tricks, and he won’t have to thanks to a big day from the defensive front.
CFN Prediction: Michigan State 31 … Florida Atlantic 16
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Michigan State
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