coleryan Posts:21290 Followers:24
On 10/27/2013 08:05 AM in NCAA Football

Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans: Preview and Pick

Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans: Preview and Pick

Outside of the game with the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Michigan Wolverines have one big rivalry and that is the annual game against the Michigan State Spartans. Off a high scoring win and a bye week to prepare the Wolverines will attempt to get ready to play one of the toughest defenses in the country. The Spartans are riding a four game winning streak and will have that No. 1 overall defense waiting and ready on Game day.

Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans Odds

The college football odds for this game will be very close as this rivalry is always a fierce one on the football field. The Spartans have the home field edge which could attract more betting from the general public but the Wolverines have the popularity that brings college football bettors to the window. This line will move leading up to kick off so make sure to check out the top rated sportsbooks for the latest line.

If the Wolverines want to beat the Spartan’s they have to use the bye week wisely. The Michigan offense has lacked consistency this season, so the bye week will give the Wolverines an opportunity to find that and jell more as they begin what will be a tough stretch to end the season. Defensively, Michigan had appeared stout until last game against Indiana, so this off week gives that group a chance to regroup and examine what went wrong. The Wolverines allowed several big plays over the past two weeks, and on many of them it seemed as though the defensive backs were right there but didn’t finish. Those plays will cost them the game against the Spartans.

The college football betting trends for this game reveal some low scoring games in favor of the home team. The total has gone under in 4 of Michigan's last 5 games when playing Michigan State and under the total in 10 of Michigan State's last 13 games at home. Michigan is 1-4 straight up in its last 5 games when playing Michigan State and 0-5 against the spread (ATS) in its last 5 games when playing Michigan State. Michigan is just 5-13-1 ATS in its last 19 games on the road and 2-4 straight up in its last 6 games on the road. Michigan State is 5-0 straight up in its last 5 games at home but just 3-10 ATS in its last 13 games at home.

Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans Pick

With plenty of time before kickoff we will wait for more information to come in before we select a side on this contest. Make sure to check back on the day of the game to see who we select as our winner for this big game.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21290 Followers:24
10/28/2013 02:35 PM

The idea has been around all season. As Detroit radio host Matt Dery put it to U-M football coach Brady Hoke last week: Take Michigan State's defense and Michigan's offense and the Big Ten can have a national title contender.

It's an entertaining thought to imagine such an elite team in our state, one that could draw national attention and be discussed among the best.

Instead, what we'll see Saturday in East Lansing is two teams that arrive to the annual clash as partially assembled products with no sign of becoming whole this season.

Though both have one explosive side and one ripe for implosion, they're essentially a mirror image, Michigan State with the dominant defense — possibly the nation's best — and Michigan with the dynamic offense.

Which makes the Spartan Stadium matchup so intriguing and difficult to predict.

How can two teams be so evenly matched when they're built so differently?

The Michigan State defense ranks in the top 5 nationally in all five relevant categories — rushing, passing, total, scoring and pass efficiency — a product of coordinator Pat Narduzzi's years of growth.

He defined his physical philosophy, arriving with head coach Mark Dantonio in 2006 and has recruited to it. After the past two years ranking in the top 10 in most of those categories, the Spartans have elevated with nine of this year's 11 starters as juniors or seniors.

There are talented players on each level, with different stars shining each game — MSU leads the nation with five defensive touchdowns, by three different players — reinforcing the balance.

That's the opposite of Michigan, which leaves its fate entirely on one offensive player, quarterback Devin Gardner.

On most days — when his turnover problems don't hamstring the offense — it's a thrill ride as Gardner is 15th nationally in total offense and 10th in points responsible for. He has rushed for 520 yards and nine touchdowns, also throwing for nearly 1,800 yards with 13 touchdowns.

With only two dynamic playmakers in receivers Jeremy Gallon and Devin Funchess, the shutdown plan should be easy for opponents. But the Wolverines still have scored 40 points in five of seven games and been near 350 yards of more in six of seven games.

Yet this game probably won't be about strengths. Expect U-M to land a few big-play touchdowns but MSU keeping the total manageable, possibly around 21, based on what Notre Dame (17), Iowa (14) and Indiana (28) produced against the Spartans.

It'll be about the weaknesses.

Can Michigan State's meager offense find the rhythm it had against Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, topping 400 yards of offense each game? Or will it struggle for any movement, like against Notre Dame and Purdue, which last week held MSU without an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter?

The Michigan defense is just as flighty, proven by Indiana's 47 points on repeated big plays. Can the Wolverines play a full defensive game, instead of the strong halves against Akron, Connecticut, Minnesota and Penn State?

More dynamics enter this game than any other throughout the season.

•With rare exceptions, for three decades the winning team has rushed for more yards in the game. While that seems a safe barometer, it's hardly a predictor as neither rush offense has shined this year.
•This is always considered the most physical game on each team's schedule and two years ago in East Lansing, it was also the nastiest, with five personal fouls called. Will that edge return?
•And what about the external advantages: Does the MSU's home field matter or does U-M's bye week of preparation balance that edge?


With so much on the line — the winner holds the trump card in the Legends Division title race — every series could be critical to the season's result.

The known commodities (MSU defense, U-M offense) will get the week's attention.

But the unknown sides (U-M defense, MSU offense), that'll decide the winner.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21290 Followers:24
10/29/2013 02:25 PM

The Michigan football team knows the type of game waiting for it Saturday in East Lansing.

The matchup against Michigan State is notoriously physical and aggressive, and that’s the bar U-M’s offense is trying to reach in practice this week.

“You’ve got to be smart, but you don’t want to go in with the idea that you’re going to be pushed around,” U-M offensive coordinator Al Borges said today at Michigan’s Glick Field House. “This is a figurative street fight. You want to go out there and match and exceed the intensity of your opponent. That’s the only way you’re going to play games like this. These aren’t finesse games, to me. These are games where … when push comes to shove, the winner is going to be the guy that’s the most physical and won’t back down and still be smart. Not throw punches when you might be tempted to throw punches, because it’s easy to get caught up in that stuff. But that doesn’t generally win football games. It generally loses football games.

“So there’s a composure that has to come with your emotion that helps you win the game. But you do want to play with some emotion. We’re not going to erase that. That’s important, especially in rivalry games.”

According to Borges, the left side of the offensive line already has embraced the “street fight” mentality.

“(Kyle) Bosch has no trouble simulating a street fight atmosphere,” Borges said. “Taylor Lewan, that’s easy for them. That kind of comes natural. You’re playing a team you kind of know you’re going to have to play that way against. The message is sent loud and clear by everybody involved. So it’s kind of reflective in practice, whether it be hitting after the whistle a little bit. As long as it’s during practice, we can monitor that. We’ve just got to be smart when it counts.”

MSU defense: Borges’ task list for success against Michigan State’s top-rated defense starts with the obvious: protecting the ball.

The Wolverines have struggled with turnovers this season, ranking 100th nationally, having surrendered 17 in seven games.

“The first thing you’ve got to make sure is you don’t give it to them,” Borges said. “They’ve done a really good job of feeding off of turnovers, either creating opportunities for offense or literally scoring themselves, which is amazing how many times they’ve done that. That’s the starting point is taking care of the football. And minimizing the damage if, in fact, there is damage. Making what could be a bad play into a disaster. That’s number one.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21290 Followers:24
10/29/2013 02:25 PM

Michigan State's defense lives on turning small mistakes into game-changing nightmares for offensive clubs.

At Michigan, through seven games so far this season, mistakes have been a plenty. Devin Gardner's thrown 10 interceptions and the Wolverines have coughed the ball up a Big Ten-worst 17 times.

Obviously, avoiding turnovers Saturday during a visit to Michigan State (3:30 p.m., ABC) will be crucial for Michigan, but offensive coordinator Al Borges took it one step further Tuesday.

The Spartans are going to make plays on defense. But Michigan can't let them to be game wreckers.

"You just can't put yourself in bad situations that become disasters," Borges said. "That's what they've fed off all year.

"If we do that, they'll feed off it against us."

As poor as Michigan's turnover numbers have been, Michigan's State's ability to force turnovers has been equally terrific.

The Spartans have forced 15 turnovers this season (which is actually tied with Michigan for second in the league), but have gotten more mileage out of those turnovers than anyone in America.

The Spartans thrive on the big play defensively. In fact, they score on plenty of them.

Michigan State's defense has scored five touchdowns this season through eight games. Defensive lineman Shilique Calhoun has scored three of them.

On top of that, the Spartans thrive and negative plays -- getting the teams behind the chains and off the field quickly. Drive killers.

That ability has led to 47 percent of Michigan State's defensive series this season resulting in three and outs.

"They have much more of a sick 'em mentality, they're trying to take everything away from you," Borges said. "It'll be a completely different test (than we've seen this season), in a completely different environment."

Borges has now schemed against Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi twice.

His teams are 1-1. In those games, Michigan has averaged 165.5 yards passing, with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Wolverines have rushed 68 times for 245 yards and one touchdown.

Michigan quarterbacks were sacked seven times in 2011, a 28-14 U-M loss. But MSU didn't record one sack a year ago in a 12-10 Wolverine win.

"You have to make sure you take care of all the things they could do to you," "If we don't call the perfect play, can we still handle what they're doing.

"What if you call something, assuming something's coming and it doesn't come -- you panic. If we can still handle whatever we're not expecting, if it's not perfect, minimize the damage and we'll be OK."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21290 Followers:24
10/30/2013 11:34 AM

The Michigan football team knows the type of game waiting in East Lansing on Saturday against Michigan State.

U-M’s offensive goal is trying to reach the bar set by the Spartans’ defense in the notoriously physical matchup.

“You’ve got to be smart, but you don’t want to go in with the idea that you’re going to be pushed around,” U-M offensive coordinator Al Borges said Tuesday at Michigan’s Glick Field House. “This is a figurative street fight. You want to go out there and match and exceed the intensity of your opponent. That’s the only way you’re going to play games like this.

“These aren’t finesse games, to me. These are games where … when push comes to shove, the winner is going to be the guy that’s the most physical and won’t back down and still be smart. Not throw punches when you might be tempted to throw punches, because it’s easy to get caught up in that stuff. But that doesn’t generally win football games, it generally loses football games.

“So there’s a composure that has to come with your emotion that helps you win the game. But you do want to play with some emotion. We’re not going to erase that. That’s important, especially in rivalry games.”

While Michigan’s offense has shuffled its most physical spot — the offensive line — the most aggressive players may be the pair now there on the left side, senior tackle Taylor Lewan and freshman guard Kyle Bosch.

According to Borges, they’ve embraced the “street fight” practice simulation.

“We do our best,” Borges said. “Bosch has no trouble simulating a street fight atmosphere. Taylor Lewan, that’s easy for them. That kind of comes natural. You’re playing a team you kind of know you’re going to have to play that way against.

“The message is sent loud and clear by everybody involved. So it’s kind of reflective in practice whether it be hitting after the whistle a little bit. As long as it’s during practice we can monitor that. We’ve just got to be smart when it counts.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21290 Followers:24
10/31/2013 02:59 PM

As if there weren't already enough riding on the outcome - bragging rights, an upper hand in recruiting, national rankings and just a general dislike of the opponent - Saturday's Michigan at Michigan State game also could decide who plays in the Big Ten championship game.

However, don't count on Wolverines coach Brady Hoke to even mention that.

"If you get ahead of yourself, you're really going to make a mistake," he said Tuesday during the conference's coaches' call. "Our thoughts and everything that we're focusing on is going up to East Lansing and competing like hell with Michigan State."

Heading into the final month of the regular season, there's a strong competition taking shape for supremacy in the Legends Division.

No. 24 Michigan State (7-1, 4-0) leads the way, with hated rival 23rd-ranked Michigan (6-1, 2-1) right behind.

"We have our goals, just like everybody else," Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. "And among our goals is to be in that championship game and then to win it."

Michigan State made it to the inaugural title game in 2011 before losing to Wisconsin. The Spartans then regrouped to beat Georgia in a bowl game.

It's not as if anyone will clinch the Legends Division title this weekend.

After a bye next week, Michigan State plays at Nebraska and at Northwestern before closing out the regular season at home against Minnesota.

The Wolverines have an even bigger set of hurdles: Nebraska at home, at Northwestern, at Iowa and then No. 4 Ohio State at The Big House on Nov. 30.

Few coaches consider it a successful season if their team doesn't make it to the conference title game.

"As a competitor, there's no question that the goals are always high, the expectations are high," Hoke said. "So when you don't achieve those aspirations - which everyone in this conference has which is to win the conference - then it obviously hasn't been the kind of year that you want."

Michigan got manhandled in its last game at Michigan State, and the Wolverines are promising that won't happen again.

"They bullied us," offensive tackle Taylor Lewan recalled Monday. "That's tough for me to admit because I don't like getting bullied."

Michigan will be without bruising tight end A.J. Williams, who started the last four games, because Hoke said the sophomore violated unspecified team rules.

"It's certainly disappointing when one of your kids makes a very poor decision," Hoke said in a statement released by the school after his weekly news conference. "A.J. realizes he has let a lot of people down, including himself. As families do, we will help A.J. as he learns a valuable lesson from this."

The Spartans beat Michigan 28-14 in 2011 for their fourth straight win in the rivalry. Last year, the Wolverines snapped the losing streak in Ann Arbor with a 12-10 win to avoid dropping five straight for the first time in the series that began in 1898.

Michigan offensive tackle Michael Schofield was asked what seniors say to younger teammates to get them ready for what they will face on the field at Spartan Stadium.

"Sixty minutes of unnecessary roughness," he said.

Schofield borrowed the phrase used by Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi after the game two years ago. He later apologized for the comment and was admonished by athletic director Mark Hollis.

As much as Michigan doesn't like the Spartans, its coaches and players respect them - especially on defense. Hoke said the Spartans are as good on defense as any team in college football, and Michigan State has allowed three points in its last two games.

The Spartans' strength will likely test Michigan's weakness, the interior of its offensive line.

"They have a great defense," Schofield said. "It will be a great test for our offense. We could really show what our offense could do if we do well against these guys."

With a Big Ten championship drought that dates to 2004, Hoke has let his players know what is at stake in the standings against the Spartans.

"You'd be foolish not to," Hoke said.

Michigan enters well-rested after beating Indiana 63-47 at home on Oct. 19, while Michigan State won 42-3 at Illinois last Saturday for its fourth straight win.

The Spartans entered the rankings Sunday for the first time this season.

"I think our main focus is what's going on in our conference right now and playing ourselves to the end of the regular season," Dantonio said. "I have been on football teams that have been ranked early in the season and faded out. Been on teams that never have been ranked and ended ninth in the country.

"I think you play things out to the end and you have to understand that a lot of this is motivated by votes. If you just keep winning your games, good things happen."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21290 Followers:24
11/01/2013 03:56 PM

For Michigan to win:
Protect the football. Possession is crucial in a game like this, and the one thing that Michigan cannot afford to do is sacrifice possession of the ball or field position. The Wolverines have turned the ball over 17 times through seven games this season, and actually have a negative turnover margin so far this season. Michigan State has forced 15 turnovers this season through eight games. An already difficult defense becomes even harder to face if you give up opportunities, which is something Michigan simply cannot do.

For Michigan State to win:
Throw the ball. The Wolverines are in the bottom half of the country in pass defense at number 99 in the country. Michigan State’s passing offense, though, is worse than that, ranking 108. Something has to give, and this defense offers the perfect opportunity for the Spartans to work on their passing game in advance of the stretch run in the Big Ten. Michigan State needs to take advantage of the breakdowns in coverage that sometime plague the Wolverines. Michigan will be geared to take away the Spartan’s ground game, and so going to the air will be mandatory for the Spartans to win at home.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21290 Followers:24
11/01/2013 03:57 PM

Key Player, Michigan:
Fitzgerald Toussaint, running back. The senior has been a bit up and down with his performances this year. Two weeks ago against Indiana, Toussaint had a great game, rushing for 151 yards on 32 carries. The week prior to that, in the ghastly overtime loss to Penn State, he had 27 yards on 27 carries. Michigan State’s run defense only allows 54 yards per game and about two yards per carry. If Michigan is going to win, it will need to lean on Toussaint to force his way through the line and keep the chains moving.

Key Player, Michigan State:
Connor Cook, quarterback. After taking over in the third game of the season as the starting quarterback, the sophomore has been the solid, steady presence that the Spartans need. Cook is probably more of a game manager at this point, so it will be interesting to see what might happen if called upon to do more. Michigan State leans heavily on running the ball, so expect Michigan to force the Spartans to throw and see if Cook can deliver. If he can have a big game through the air, it could be a long day for the Wolverines.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21290 Followers:24
11/01/2013 04:02 PM

- Michigan pass offense vs. Michigan State pass defense

Chances are, the record-setting offensive display against Indiana two weeks ago will feel like a thing of the past once the Hoosiers’ sloppy pass coverage is replaced by the Spartan secondary, led by Darqueze Dennard. Michigan coach Brady Hoke called Dennard, who has a pair of interceptions this season, a “high-round pick,” and redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner will need to take extra care when throwing in his direction.

Gardner surely won’t be throwing for 503 yards this week as he did against Indiana. He would be extremely fortunate to escape the Big Ten-leading Michigan State defense without a turnover.

Sophomore tight end A.J. Williams’s one-game suspension shouldn’t cause too much damage to Michigan’s aerial attack. Sophomore Devin Funchess will still get his reps on the outside, and fifth-year senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon is coming off the best single-game receiving performance in the history of the Big Ten.

But again, this isn’t the Hoosiers, and the Wolverines won’t move the ball with anywhere near as much ease.

Edge: Michigan State


- Michigan rush offense vs. Michigan State rush defense

This is where the Spartans are at their best. Teams simply do not run the football on them. They haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. And fifth-year senior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint probably didn’t do himself any favors by referring to Michigan State as “little brother” earlier this week.

Freshman guard Kyle Bosch will be making his first-ever start Saturday as Hoke continues to try to piece together the best offensive line possible. He may have finally found the right combination, but against the Spartans, it could easily be moot.

Expect almost all of the carries to go to Toussaint as the coaching staff tries to prevent any turnovers from Derrick Green, who might be prone to them in his first battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy.

Edge: Michigan State


- Michigan State pass offense vs. Michigan pass defense

Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has said there are still passes that Michigan defensive backs should be picking off but have not. With that said, the secondary has shown it can force turnovers in key spots, with fifth-year senior safety Thomas Gordon sealing the Indiana game with two late picks.

But Connor Cook, the starting Spartan quarterback, doesn’t make many mistakes. He has thrown just two interceptions, compared to 12 touchdowns, this season in eventually winning the top spot on the depth chart. Last week, he completed 15 of his 16 pass attempts, though it was against lowly Illinois.

Edge: Michigan


- Michigan State rush offense vs. Michigan rush defense

Most of Michigan’s efforts will be focused on stopping the run, and rightfully so. Spartan tailback Jeremy Langford has nine rushing touchdowns this season and has racked up 655 yards.

The Michigan State offensive line is much improved from the early weeks when the Spartans failed to move the ball with any consistency. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio will run the football early and often, trying to wear down the Wolverines’ defense.

The Spartan offense may not have many explosive playmakers, but it has shown it can grind teams down, and Michigan is in trouble if that happens Saturday.

Edge: Michigan State


- Special teams

Mike Sadler is almost enough to singlehandedly give this category to the Spartans. Not only is he an outstanding punter, but earlier this season against Iowa, he carried the ball for 25 yards on a fake.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines have had problems punting the ball.

Michigan State relies on freshman Michael Geiger to handle its kicking duties, and he’s 6-for-7 on the year.

Edge: Michigan State


- Intangibles

The Spartans can sense that they are on the verge of a berth in the Big Ten title game, with the schedule shaping up favorably the rest of the way.

With 27 players back from the Michigan team that was beat up in East Lansing in 2011, the Wolverines should be prepared for the physical game that lies ahead. That means no excuses if they are again bullied at Spartan Stadium.

Edge: Michigan

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0
coleryan Posts:21290 Followers:24
11/02/2013 11:21 AM

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http://www.bangthebook.com/picks/t/129449/?s=NCAA%2520Football&c=1

  • Last 7 Days Record: 2-3-0