Week 13 – Michigan State at Minnesota

Posted Nov 23, 2012

Week 13 Fearless Prediction – Michigan State at Minnesota

Michigan State (5-6) at Minnesota (6-5) Nov. 24, 3:30, BTN

Here's The Deal: Really, Michigan State? You let it come to this?

The Spartans came into the season with the talent to dominate the Big Ten defensively, and it has come through leading the league in both scoring and total defense. The hope was for Le'Veon Bell and the running game to be effective, he has been terrific averaging 126 yards per game. The passing game was supposed to come around, and it has, for the most part, averaging a decent 226 yards per game. So what's the problem?

Other than a win over Wisconsin, the team can't come through in the clutch with five of the six losses – Notre Dame being the exception – coming by four points or fewer. This week, the team that can't seem to rise when needed has to beat Minnesota just to go bowling.

It's gravy time for the Gophers after clinching bowl eligibility against Illinois a few weeks ago. However, at 2-5 in conference play, they're hardly impressing anyone and could use an impressive win to validate a turnaround season. The offense is struggling and the defense hasn't come up with any big performances outside of the shutdown of Illinois, but at 6-5, all is going well no matter how it looks. Why Michigan State Might Win: Minnesota's offense could go absolutely nowhere. It was stopped cold by Nebraska last week with a mere 177 yards, and the ground attack has gone through some rough patches at times in the Big Ten getting stuffed by Wisconsin and held in check by Michigan. The Gophers are 0-3 in the conference when they fail to score a rushing touchdown, and Michigan State's defense has the potential to keep Goldy out of the end zone with a linebacking corps that's chasing down everything that's not in a Nebraska uniform and a front line that's not getting shoved off the blocks. Nebraska ran for 313 yards and two scores, but MSU has allowed its opponent without a rushing score in seven games this season, winning five of them.

Why Minnesota Might Win: The Gophers aren't likely to beat themselves. As good as the MSU defense has been and as impressive as it has been at times, the pass rush hasn't been consistent – cranking out five sacks against Wisconsin, two against Nebraska, and no more than one against anyone else – while the takeaways haven't been coming. The D hasn't recovered a fumble since September and has gone two of the last three games without a pick. Meanwhile, Minnesota has given up two fumbles in each of the last two games, but hasn't thrown any picks. Since a rocky start, the Gophers have thrown just two interceptions over the last seven games.

What To Watch Out For: Le'Veon Bell isn't on the Heisman radar, and he's a bit behind Montee Ball for in terms of rushing yards per game, but he's coming up with a whale of a junior season with enough production to potentially make him one of the first backs off the board if he chooses to come out early. The coaching staff hasn't been shy to force-feed him the ball down the stretch, giving him 36 carries against Nebraska and 32 against Northwestern, finishing with a hard 321 yards and two scores. Last year he rumbled for 96 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Minnesota, and it only took 15 carries to do it.

What Will Happen: Minnesota will put up a great fight at home to try to close strong, but Michigan State's defense won't allow much of anything with next to nothing coming on the ground. The Gophers will have hard time getting to 250 yards of total offense, but the defense will make it a battle.

CFN Prediction: Michigan State 20 … Minnesota 13
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Michigan State -8 O/U: 38
Must Watch Rating (5 – Beware of Mr. Baker, 1 – Life of Pi): 2.5