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Week 9 - Michigan State at Illinois
Posted Oct 24, 2013

Week 9 Fearless Prediction - Michigan State at Illinois

- Nebraska at Minnesota | Northwestern at Iowa
- Michigan State at Illinois | Penn State at Ohio State

Michigan State (6-1) at Illinois (3-3) Oct. 26 3:30, ABC/ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Just when it seemed like Michigan State was about to step up and become a complete team, the offense went back to mediocre in a 14-0 win over a miserable Purdue team. Even so, at 6-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play, everything is setting up nicely for a big finishing kick. November is going to be nasty with Michigan first and road games against Nebraska and Northwestern, but first up is an Illinois team that didn’t come close to slowing down the Wisconsin offense in last week’s loss, but did a great job of pushing the passing game on the Bucky D.

Michigan State’s offense is just along for the ride thanks to a suffocating defense, but Illinois has to find a way to make something happen after losing two straight and needing this home win before going on the road for three games in the next four. The home oasis? Ohio State.

Illinois has been night-and-day better and more competitive than last year, but it needs a shocker. Just being in for the fight against the better teams isn’t going to cut it if there’s any hope of going bowling. It’s also going to take some trend-breaking with Michigan State owning the series winning 11 of the last 12 going back to 1992.

Why Michigan State Might Win: Forget about the Illinois running game. It hasn’t been working on a consistent basis and it’s not efficient or effective enough to penetrate the Michigan State defensive front that’s been allowing a grand total of 59 yards per game. Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase will have to become more of a pocket passer, and that’s not a plus, either, against a Spartan secondary that’s not allowing anything deep – it leads the nation in pass efficiency defense. On the other side, can the Illinois run defense hold up? Michigan State’s ground game isn’t anything special, but it should be able to power away a bit on a soft midsection.

Why Illinois Might Win: There’s no downfield passing game for Michigan State. The team isn’t taking any chances and there’s no reason to get too crazy when the defense is stopping everyone cold, but Illinois should be able to cheat up and not worry about getting torched. The Illini have had major problems against deep-ball passers – not a problem this week. The Spartans might be tempted to take some shots down the field, but that takes away from the overall gameplan. Illinois has to be really, really patient and hope to be able to capitalize on new breaks.

Who To Watch Out For: Michigan State has found its running back, and it’s going to keep riding him. Jeremy Langford ran for 109 yards and three scores against Indiana and followed it up with 131 yards against Purdue. He adds a bit more size than some of the other Spartan backs at 6-0 and 206 pounds, but a jack-of-all-trades. He started out his career as a corner, moved to receiver before becoming a key back in the rotation. Now he has proven himself.

What Will Happen: Once again, it’s Michigan State football, so it’s not going to be pretty. The defense will give Scheelhaase a nightmare of a time, while the offense will be methodical at best, maddening at worst.

Prediction: Michigan State 28 … Illinois 13
Line: Michigan State -10 o/u: 49.5
Must See Rating: (5 The Counselor – 1 Last Vegas) … 2.5
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