Week 14 - Minnesota at Michigan State

Posted Nov 27, 2013

Week 14 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Minnesota at Michigan State

Minnesota (8-3) at Michigan State (10-1) Nov. 30 12:00, BTN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Michigan State is already set in the Big Ten championship against Ohio State next week, and Minnesota is already off to a bowl game, but it's still a big game for each with the Spartans pushing for an at-large BCS spot if it doesn't beat the Buckeyes while the Gophers are jockeying for bowl position and a possible ten-win season.

Michigan State has won seven straight getting stronger and stronger as the season has gone on with double-digit blowouts in every victory this year. The defense has allowed six points or fewer in four of the last five games while the offense has started to pick up the pace. Is this the team that can derail Ohio State's dream season? It's looking like it's worthy of coming up with a huge performance to make next week's game interesting, but first, Minnesota is trying to break a three-game losing streak in the series.

The Gophers are still in the hunt for their first ten-win season since 2003. Their four-game winning streak was broken in a tough, chilly loss to Wisconsin last week, missing out on several opportunities and chances. They're playing with house money at this point in a terrific campaign, but beating Michigan State would truly make it a special year.

Why Minnesota Might Win: The Gophers have the run defense to keep the Spartans in check. Minnesota sold out a bit to stop the Wisconsin ground game, and it did a great job of holding up for the full sixty minutes, not wearing down and not getting gouged. The Spartans have a decent enough passing game to get by, and they hit on the big play against Northwestern last week, but if Minnesota can hold up on the defensive front and not turn the ball over, it should be able to hang around. The Spartans are helped in a big way from an offense that doesn't turn the over, but Minnesota is second in the Big Ten and eighth in the nation in fewest turnovers lost.

Why Michigan State Might Win: Minnesota is too one dimensional. The passing game clicks for big plays now and then, but it doesn't throw the ball well enough to challenge the fantastic Spartan secondary in any way. The Gophers misfired on way too many chance last week against Wisconsin, showing why they're dead last in the Big Ten in passing. Minnesota needs to run well, win the special teams battle, and come out on the right side of the turnover margin to have any chance, but Michigan State leads the nation in run defense, is decent on special teams – except in the kick return game – and leads the Big Ten in turnover margin.

Who To Watch Out For: Connor Cook is making this Michigan State team his. The sophomore started to get into the mix late last year, and this season that hasn't been any question marks as the season has gone on, throwing 16 touchdown passes with just three picks. He's starting to take a few more chances – last week's huge touchdown pass to Bennie Fowler against Northwestern was a bit of a misfire – and they're paying off. With decent mobility and a good arm, he's growing into the job.

What Will Happen: Michigan State will go rolling into the Big Ten championship with a ton of momentum. The defense will keep the Gopher offense in check, and the offense won't make the big mistakes the Gophers need to overcome a sluggish performance.

Prediction: Michigan State 27 … Minnesota 10
Line: Michigan State -14.5 o/u: 41
Must See Rating: (5 American Hustle – 1 The Sound of Music Live!) … 3
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