2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 7 - Michigan at Michigan St
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Oct. 15 at Michigan State 28 … Michigan 14
CFN Analysis: The Spartans were cheap, they were dirty, and they committed 13 penalties for 124 yards, but they also beat up the Wolverines, did almost everything right when timing the blitzes, and they came up with yet another win over their hated rivals to take control of the Legends division. With the wind a problem for the passing game, this was a bit of a throwback game to early last year with the running game taking control of the offense, led by Edwin Baker’s 167 yards on 26 carries, while Kirk Cousins had an effective enough day to get by, considering he only threw for 120 yards. But the day belonged to the defense that kept Denard Robinson under wraps and held firm when it had to. Isaiah Lewis might have come up with the signature pick six to seal it, but this was a total team effort. This was big for the team’s rivalry, but beating Wisconsin next week would do more for the national profile.
Devin Gardner needs to be better. Denard Robinson is going to get beaten up with the way he plays, and like last year, he’s going to have a hard time staying on the field. The offensive line couldn’t pick up the Michigan State blitzes, especially from the corner, and Robinson was turned into a pocket passer. The results weren’t good, and while he came up with a good read to connect with Roy Roundtree for a 34-yard score, If he’s not running around making things happen, the Michigan offense isn’t working. Gardner completed just 3-of-7 passes for 45 yards, and while he tried his best, he made inexperienced mistakes. This might hurt, now that the unbeaten season is over, but the key is to beat Purdue next week so this doesn’t turn into a slide.
(AP) EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Jerel Worthy and his Michigan State teammates charged across the field, holding four fingers in the air while celebrating another sweet victory over their biggest rival.
"A clean sweep!" Worthy yelled.
In his four years with the Spartans, Worthy has never lost to Michigan. He and the rest of Michigan State's defensive line helped extend that run Saturday, shutting down Denard Robinson and the 11th-ranked Wolverines in a 28-14 victory.
The 23rd-ranked Spartans have won four straight against Michigan for the first time since 1959-62, equaling Michigan State's longest streak in the series.
"For the rest of our life, we can walk the streets of Michigan," quarterback Kirk Cousins said.
Cousins, a fifth-year senior, is the first Michigan State starting quarterback to win three straight over Michigan.
Keshawn Martin scored twice in the third quarter on similar lunges to the end zone, and Michigan State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) held off Robinson and the Wolverines during a wild fourth quarter.
Michigan (6-1, 2-1) lost for the first time under coach Brady Hoke. The Wolverines had a chance to tie it, but Robinson was sacked on fourth-and-1 from the Michigan State 9-yard line with 6:16 to play.
Robinson later threw an interception, and Isaiah Lewis returned it 39 yards for a touchdown with 4:31 left to make it 28-14. Shortly after that, Robinson was shaken up by a hit and left the game.
Edwin Baker ran for 167 yards and a touchdown for the Spartans.
"It's a big win, a program win," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "To do that a fourth straight year says a lot about our players."
Michigan State took the field in special green-and-bronze Nike Pro Combat uniforms. In a surprise move, Michigan showed up in "legacy" uniforms by Adidas that included pants that were white instead of the usual maize.
The Wolverines haven't beaten the Spartans since 2007, when then-Michigan running back Mike Hart compared Michigan State to a "little brother" and Dantonio shot back by saying the Wolverines needed "to check themselves." Dantonio said after that game that "pride comes before the fall" -- and now it's Michigan State enjoying the spoils of victory in this series, keeping the Paul Bunyan Trophy from its in-state foe.
Worthy, a standout defensive tackle, is a redshirt junior. He has a tattoo displaying a Spartan stomping on a Wolverine.
"We're always fighting for respect," Worthy said. "I feel even better about getting that tattoo now."
The Spartans, who tied for the Big Ten title last year, are now alone atop the Legends Division with a big home game against Wisconsin coming up next weekend.
This week, Michigan State was coming off an open date. Michigan has one next weekend.
"They need to feel this one," Hoke said. "We all need to feel this one for a while. But we'll turn the page."
Robinson ran for a first-quarter touchdown but was mostly ineffective through the air, going 9 for 24 for 123 yards and a touchdown on a windy day in East Lansing.
Down 21-7, Robinson found Roy Roundtree for a 34-yard touchdown with 9:49 left in the game. Martin then fumbled on an end around, giving Michigan the ball at the Michigan State 32.
After converting fourth-and-1 from the 23 with a short run, Robinson faced the same down and distance from the 9. Michigan called a slow-developing play-action attempt, and Johnny Adams sacked Robinson to end the drive.
After Michigan got the ball back, Robinson's pass was intercepted by Lewis, who took it back for a touchdown. Lewis risked a penalty by holding the ball out before crossing the goal line, but the touchdown stood.
The Spartans didn't always handle the emotionally charged game well, committing 13 penalties for 124 yards.
Robinson's day ended late in the fourth when he was thrown down by Marcus Rush, who was called for roughing the passer. The Michigan quarterback stood on the sideline, green grass stains all over his uniform, as the Spartans finished off another win over the Wolverines.
"I got a little beat up," Robinson said.
Hoke said he didn't know what the injury was. Robinson said it was not a concussion.
With the game tied at 7, Michigan State went on a 54-yard drive to start the third quarter. On third-and-goal from the 10, Cousins found Martin, who caught the ball at the 5 near the right sideline and managed to stay in bounds before extending the ball across the goal line while being knocked backward toward the end zone.
Martin caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Cousins in the final minute of the third, dodging a tackler and diving to that same front corner of the end zone.
Michigan State entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense, and its defensive line gave Robinson problems all day.
Each team scored on its first possession of the game. Robinson gave Michigan a 7-0 lead with a 15-yard run, and the Spartans answered with a 63-yard drive that ended with Baker's 1-yard scoring run.
Devin Gardner tried to rally Michigan after Robinson departed late in the fourth. He had a touchdown pass called back because he was well past the line of scrimmage when he threw the ball. On fourth-and-21 from the Michigan State 44, Gardner began running to the right sideline, then doubled back to the middle of the field, then circled back again to the same sideline before being stopped. Gardner had a receiver open deep down the field toward the end of the play but either couldn't see him or couldn't get rid of the ball.
Michigan (6-0) at Michigan State (4-1) Oct. 15, 12:00, ESPN/ESPN3
Here’s The Deal … Now we get to really see if Michigan is for real, and just as importantly, Michigan State gets a shot to show that it really and truly is a Big Ten title contender. With Nebraska mediocre, Iowa floundering, Northwestern no big deal, and Minnesota a total mess, this might be it. This might be the game to decide the Legends title.
And it might be the one real barrier left between Michigan and 12-0.
This is hardly a dominant Wolverine team. Denard Robinson is a dominant player, and the offense has been explosive when needed and grinding when it has to be, but it’s still a hodge-podge attack with things head coach Brady Hoke would like to be doing mixed in with players trained to do things the Rich Rodriguez way. It’s all working, and while the O might not always be even or consistent, it’s producing at a high level with a good balance. But the attack also rolled under Rodriguez, and there was excitement over the last two years under the old regime starting out 5-0 in 2010 and 4-0 in 2009.
And then came the Michigan State game.
You’ll have to forgive Wolverine fans if they’re not quite ready to pile on the bandwagon until after this week. The Spartans have been a season killer and a gamechanger over the last three years; for whatever reason, the Maize and Blue has gone into the tank after dealing with its rival.
In 2010, Michigan started out 5-0, lost to Michigan State, and lost three in a row and six of its last eight. In 2009, the 4-0 start went bye-bye with seven losses in the last eight games – with the lone win coming against Delaware State – after losing to the Spartans. In 2008, Michigan stunk all year and lost three of its last four after losing to MSU. In 2007, after starting out 7-2, and on a seven game winning streak, the Wolverines beat MSU and then lost its last two games.
And to think, Michigan State used to be known as the flaky one.
From 1997 to 2006, MSU was 3-7 in the game after the Michigan game. Head coach Mark Dantonio has taken the flighty factor out of the Spartan program and is turning it into a consistent power, turning a corner last year as a co-Big Ten champion and in a position to do big things this year after coming up with a dominant win – at least defensively - at Ohio State. The Notre Dame loss was an unfocused disaster, but MSU has been as dominant as anyone in college football over the other four games winning by a combined score of 127-20, and not allowing more than seven points in any of the victories.
The defense is ranked No. 1 in the nation, and pass defense is second, and the run defense is third, but facing Youngstown State, Florida Atlantic, Central Michigan, and this year, Ohio State, has helped the cause. A win over the Wolverines would give the Spartans the national credibility, and it would set things up for huge showdowns against Wisconsin and Nebraska. First, making it four straight over Michigan is a tough enough task to deal with.
On a light weekend this is the biggest game in college football with the highest stakes, and the two should play like it.
Why Michigan Might Win: Does the Michigan State offense actually work? It’s not like the attack has blown up against a bad schedule, and the running game went nowhere in the two games against real teams, gaining just 29 yards against Notre Dame and 71 against Ohio State. The offensive line has been fine, and it’s good enough to generate a bit of a push, but this has the potential to be a shootout and the Spartans have to prove they can get into the end zone.
MSU’s last touchdown against Notre Dame came with just under 12 minutes to play in the second quarter, and the lone touchdown against Ohio State came in the first quarter. Kirk Cousins can throw the ball, but against Michigan, holding on to the clock and moving the chains is a must, but against Notre Dame and OSU the Spartans converted just 8-of-31 third down chances. MSU might only be able to throw, but …
Why Michigan State Might Win: Can Michigan actually stop a passing game? It’s possible for the Spartans to blow off the ground game entirely if the Michigan defensive front isn’t getting into the backfield, and so far, it’s not doing enough to pressure decent quarterbacks. A hobbling Dan Persa threw for 331 yards last week. Tommy Rees almost pulled off a win for the Irish throwing for 315 yards and three touchdowns, and Western Michigan’s Alex Carder threw without a problem – before he was getting kissed by the Wolverine blitz. Kirk Cousins knows how to throw on the Wolverines, completing 18-of-25 passes for 284 yards and a score in last year’s win, and throwing for 152 yards and overcoming two picks in the 2009 win.
The Michigan State defensive front has been terrific. It allowed 128 yards to Youngstown State, 114 yards to Notre Dame, and that’s about it. The two rushing scores by the Irish were the only ones allowed so far by the nation’s No. 3 run defense, and for the first time since the Notre Dame game, Michigan’s offensive line has to deal with a fight. The more the Spartans can make Robinson throw, the better. That’s easier said than done, but Michigan isn’t going to simply run the ball 65 times. Notre Dame forced three picks and Northwestern took the ball away three times. Robinson gave away three interceptions in last year’s loss to the Spartans.
What To Watch Out For: It’s time for the 1-2 Spartan rushing punch of Le’Veon Bell and Edwin Baker to do more. They haven’t been bad, but they haven’t exactly taken control of the MSU offense and haven’t been able to pound away on a consistent basis. Baker was the star of the Michigan game last year, running for 147 yards and a score, but he broken out yet with just 252 yards and a touchdown in the first five games. The physical Bell has rushed for 267 yards and three scores, but he didn’t get in the end zone against Notre Dame or Ohio State and wasn’t much of a factor in either way.
It’s not like Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy is slipping off the NFL Draft map, and there’s still a chance he could end up coming back for another year, but he’s likely a late first round, early second round pick at this point instead of being a top-five, must-have defensive tackle. Quick and active, he’s been the anchor of a top run defense, and while he’s not filling out the stat sheet, he’s been a great main man to work around. On the other side, Michigan’s Mike Martin is a decent prospect, but he’s not going before the fourth round. He’s an unquestioned leader who’s motor is always running, but he’s not a huge space-eater and he doesn’t pass the eye test off the field. On the field, he’s coming off his best game of the season making even tackles with a sack against Northwestern.
What Will Happen: The Michigan defense is good, but Michigan State’s is better. There might not be any stars in the Spartan linebacking corps, but it’s a good enough group to keep Robinson from running wild, while the secondary will come up with at least two picks giving the offense easy chances for scores. MSU will be more physical on both lines and Cousins will come up with a huge game taking advantage of a Wolverine D that’ll take a few too many chances to get into the backfield. MSU won’t come up with a statement, but it’ll come away with a hard-fought win.
CFN Prediction: Michigan State 27 … Michigan 23
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Michigan State -2.5 O/U: 48.5
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