Friday, October 26, 2012
Keys to victory for MSU/Michigan against Wisconsin/Nebraska
A pair of big games for
and are just a day away. Here are my
keys to victory for each contest. Michigan State
Survive the early storm –
will be very up for this game and look to make an early statement. The Badgers
have started to find their groove on offense, having scored at least 31 points
in their last three games against struggling defenses. The MSU defense will
need to come out fast and contain Montee Ball. Offensively, MSU needs to be
able to convert third downs and put a drive or two together to take the loud Madison crowd out of the
Turn The Tables – Most defenses have been stacking the box against MSU and forcing Andrew Maxwell to have to beat them. In this case, MSU needs to take the same approach against
Wisconsin. The Badgers
rank110th in the country in passing and have already went through two
quarterbacks. I am not overly impressed with Joel Stave and think the Spartans
would be wise to play one-one-one coverage against the Wisconsin
receivers while putting all their focus on stopping Ball. Stave has five
touchdowns to three interceptions and is completing 57 percent of his passes.
He is bound to make some freshman mistakes if put under pressure.
Finish Drives –
seemed to make some positive
strides in its passing game last week, but the Spartans once again settled for
field goals instead of touchdowns deep in the red zone. This week, Michigan State needs to make the most of each
opportunity. If Dion Sims is able to play, that should help in both the passing
game and the run game. In order for Maxwell to take the next step as a starting
quarterback, he has to make the big throws in the red zone. Michigan State
Get back to what works –
struggled on offense last week and I know part of that had to do with the MSU
defense, but I felt that the Wolverines played right into the Spartans’ hands. Michigan didn’t do much
attacking outside the tackle box with Denard Robinson. It ran right into the
MSU trap. For this game, Nebraska
isn’t as talented on defense and Robinson should be able to find open space and
rack up the yards. But, Michigan
still needs to show some creativity and mix things up by getting Fitzgerald
Toussaint, Vincent Smith and Thomas Rawls involved as well.
Take your chances with
Martinez’ arm – Taylor Martinez has
made strides as a passer this year, but Nebraska’s
strength is its run game, including Martinez.
Even if Rex Burkhead is out for the game, the Cornhuskers are more than capable
of moving the ball on the ground. Like the Wolverines did against MSU, Michigan needs to stack the box and challenge Martinez to throw deep. Michigan may give up the occasional big play with that
game plan, but I don’t see Martinez being able
to consistently beat Michigan
through the air.
Finish – Similar to MSU,
needs to finish drives in this game. That hasn’t been much of a problem for the
Wolverines this year, but Nebraska
is a feisty team at home. If/when the Wolverines have a chance to put this game
out of reach, it must do it because Nebraska
can rally in a hurry. Just ask Wisconsin.
Field goals won’t get the job done in this one.