Monday, December 31, 2012
I don’t see this game being terribly lopsided, but I think the
Michigan offense will have problems moving
the ball against a strong and speedy defense like South Carolina.
Defensively, I think
can keep South Carolina
in check, but the Gamecocks will still find a way to score enough points to win.
Denard Robinson has struggled running against tough defenses like this, and I don’t think he is going to have that much of an impact when the Wolverines call his number.
is to win, it will probably take a defensive or special teams touchdown, and
you can’t really expect those to happen.
In the end, I see Connor Shaw making enough big throws to set up a few touchdowns and a few field goals, while
Michigan will be clawing for everything it
can get on offense.
South Carolina 20,
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Mix it up with Denard – In the loss to
became far too
predictable on offense when Denard Robinson was on the field. The Wolverines
didn’t have Robinson throw a single pass, which allowed the Buckeyes to stack
the box when he was on the field. If Robinson is going to take any snaps at
quarterback, he has to make a few throws throughout the game to keep the Ohio State,
Michigan South Carolina defense
is much more likely to break a big play if the Gamecocks have to respect that
Robinson could run or throw each time he touches the ball.
Keep Devin/Denard clean – The
Michigan offensive line will
be tested by an impressive front line for the South Carolina defense. If Michigan is going to be able to move the
ball, the offensive line has to win the line of scrimmage and keep Devin
Gardner and Denard Robinson from being sacked. The Gamecocks have an impressive
40 sacks this season, led by stud sophomore defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney,
who has 13. If South Carolina is able to
consistently get into the backfield, it is going to be a long day for the Michigan quarterbacks
and the Wolverine fans.
Create turnovers – This
defense is good. The Gamecocks are only giving up 17.4 points and 312 yards per
game, and that is with a SEC schedule. Michigan
probably isn’t going to find a lot of consistent success on offense. The
Wolverines can’t expect to drive the field 80 yards each time it needs a score.
That means the Michigan
defense will need to find a way to create turnovers. South Carolina has been pretty good at not
turning the ball over, as it has just 19 for the season. Michigan also hasn’t been great at creating
turnovers, as the Wolverines have only 17 for the year. But Michigan
has to find a way to make South
Carolina cough the ball up, especially when the
Gamecocks are in their territory. One key turnover could decide this game.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
In the first half,
looked like it didn’t have any business being in a bowl game to begin with. The
offense was as bad as it has been all season and the defense was giving up a
number of big plays, which allowed TCU to score 13 points. Michigan State
But, in true Spartan fashion this season, MSU found a way to make the game interesting.
Connor Cook led the Spartans on a 90-yard TD drive that saw a creative pass play from Le’Veon Bell on third down. Then, a big gift on a muffed punt by the Horned Frogs led to an easy touchdown run for
Bell from four yards out.
Those scoring drives gave the Spartans an improbable lead.
But, again in 2012 MSU fashion, TCU managed to respond with a mildly-successful drive that led to a 53-yard field from Jaden Oberkrom that just avoided hitting the left upright, putting TCU ahead, 16-14, late in the game.
Mark Dantonio again turned to redshirt freshman Connor Cook to lead the offense in response, and he did, hitting a pair of key passes to open the drive before Le’Veon Bell did the rest of the work to setup Dan Conroy for a 47-yard field goal that turned out to be the game-winner.
As ugly as MSU played, a win is a win. Bowl wins are important for the program and Saturday night’s victory puts a positive end to a disappointing season. It still doesn’t make this season a success for the Spartans, but the team and coaches showed some heart by finding a way to win that game.
Clearly many of the issues during the season, especially on offense, still were an issue in this game. Throwing short of the sticks on third down was the most noticeable one. Some blame goes to Andrew Maxwell, some goes to the receivers.
Regardless of who was to blame, it is clear that
knew Cook needed an opportunity to
play in a big game, and he played as well as you could expect him to given his
experience and the circumstances. Michigan State
You would have to think Cook may have the edge on Maxwell heading into spring ball. Maxwell was as bad as he has been all season, going just 6 for 16 for 28 yards. We will see how he responds to this game in the offseason, but even he has to realize that his title as starting quarterback is in jeopardy.
If Saturday was
last game as a Spartan, he left it all on the field. He again shouldered the physical
load, carrying 32 times for 145 yards. There weren’t many holes for him
throughout the game, but he did what he could to move the offense forward.
If Saturday’s game did anything, it made the offseason for the Spartans very interesting, and it all starts with who is going to be on the roster come the fall.
Friday, December 28, 2012
This game is actually quite meaningful for both teams, as each has had a disappointing year, and a bowl victory would put a little positive spin to it heading into spring football for the 2013 season.
I expect the game to be low scoring, like most
games. Both teams are stronger on
defense than they are on offense and I suspect neither offense will come out
with a completely different look that the opposing team wasn’t ready for. Michigan State
With MSU’s defense banged up a little bit in the secondary, as Johnny Adams may not play due to turf toe, that opens the door for TCU to be aggressive in the passing game. The Spartans will need to get pressure on TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin and not allow the Horned Frogs to develop deep passing plays.
I don’t expect Le’Veon Bell to be able to take over the game. He should be about as fresh as he can be, but the Spartans still have issues on the offensive line. The game will ride on Andrew Maxwell’s arm, and I thought he was regressing as the season went on. I don’t know that a month of preparation will do enough to make Maxwell into an improved quarterback. He will get his chance to win the game in the fourth quarter, as he has had in most games all season, but I see him coming up short again.
Prediction: TCU 16,
13 Michigan State
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Here are a few keys to the game for the Spartans:
- Get off the field on third down – TCU led the Big 12 in time of possession advantage this season, but was not that successful on third downs, converting just 34.1 percent. The Horned Frogs like to be aggressive on first and second down, but they are facing the toughest defense they have seen all season. Michigan State will get TCU into third-down situations and the Spartans will need to make stops on those third downs to get the ball back in the hands of the offense. If TCU is able to sustain drives, it will give the Spartan offense limited opportunities to succeed. Given MSU’s offense hasn’t had that high of a success rate, limited possessions don’t bode well for it.
- Don’t play into TCU’s hands – The Horned Frogs have one of the top rushing defenses in the nation, allowing just 103.9 yards per game on the ground. I know Le’Veon Bell is MSU’s workhorse, but if the running game isn’t establishing itself early, the Spartans need to air things out. TCU has 21 interceptions on the season, but they have given up 228 yards per game through the air. Michigan State should be able to find some holes in the secondary if Andrew Maxwell can make good throws and the receivers can catch the ball. With a month of preparation for this game, you would hope Dan Roushar has installed some creative passing plays to beat the Horned Frogs.
- Make the kicks – In a game like this, with two solid defenses meeting up, any chance for both teams to put points on the board will be key. Neither team has had a reliable kicking game, as TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom is 19 of 27 on field goal attempts this season. Oberkrom has missed four field goals from the 30-39 range and one from the 20-29 range. MSU kicker Dan Conroy went 22 for 31 on his field goal attempts this season, missed four form 30-39 yards and five from 40-49 yards. Conroy missed at least one field goal in nine of MSU’s 12 games this season. He needs to be on his game on Saturday night with points at a premium. Four of MSU’s six losses came by three points or less, and Conroy missed a field goal in three of those four losses.
Monday, December 24, 2012
It’s Christmas time and I want to start by wishing everyone a happy holiday. I hope you are getting a chance to enjoy some good food with your families, and maybe even getting that Christmas wish of yours.
I have already had a great holiday, but to be festive, I thought I would share my wish for the holidays, and it relates to the MSU-Michigan rivalry.
My wish is that the rivalry hits a new level in 2013.
In the ideal world, I would like to see both football teams and both basketball teams playing at their highest levels, with both contending for national recognition and Big Ten titles.
Whether you are on the side of the Spartans, or the side of the Wolverines, the games between these two teams are so much better when they mean something.
Some of the greatest games in the history of this rivalry are when both teams are ranked and battling it out on the football field or basketball court.
State had a nice run over the past few
seasons, but Michigan
was in a funk.
This season, the Wolverines were still solid, but a little disappointing.
was a complete
disaster. This year’s game between the two had no real meaning when it came to
competing for a Big Ten title. Michigan
It would be nice in upcoming years to have this game mean a lot, with both teams possibly being unbeaten. It makes the game that more passionate and emotional. It brings out the best (or worst, depending on how you look at it) of both fan bases.
In basketball, we might be there already.
Michigan looks like a legit national title
contender and MSU is strong, but a little inconsistent. By the end of the
season, both could be primed for a run in the NCAA Tournament. Their meetings
on the court this season should also be very competitive and feature great
environments, and they could also determine who wins the Big Ten title.
I mean, how great would it be to see the Spartans and Wolverines tipoff in the championship of the Big Ten Tournament with a possible 1 or 2 seed on the line in the Big Dance?
Michigan fans say
is their biggest rival, and that is fine. I won’t argue that. But, as a neutral
party to both, it is a lot better when both teams are flourishing and worrying
about each other. Ohio State
Thursday, December 20, 2012
MSU was really hoping and counting on Parker to suit up in the green and white next season, but he instead opted for the “Yankees” of college basketball, Duke.
Parker made his commitment to the Blue Devils on national television on Thursday, changing the landscape of what Michigan State will look like next season.
In hindsight, the decision is not all that surprising.
Michigan State hasn’t been known to be a real hot spot for potential one-and-done recruits, which Parker is.
Tom Izzo has spoken out in the past about his dislike for the one-and-done rule and his only notable one-and-done player was Zach Randolph, who didn’t exactly flourish in his single season with the Spartans, averaging 10.8 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Izzo also isn’t known for being real lenient on his freshmen. He rides them, he challenges them and he also isn’t afraid to bench them for lengthy periods of time.
That isn’t to say Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t do much of the same, but he has had a better track record with one-and-done players as of late, including Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers.
Izzo seems to embrace the challenge of developing players over a number of years. He has produced a number of talented stars that have translated to the NBA, but many have stayed at least three years in the program.
You also can’t forget that Duke is Duke. No matter what Michigan State has accomplished under Izzo, the Blue Devils still are largely considered the top program in the nation and have been for more than two decades.
It will be interesting to see how Michigan State bounces back from this recruiting loss. The Spartans weren’t able to make certain moves or get commitments from other players as they awaited Parker’s decision. It was a risk vs. reward situation, and the Spartans came out on the wrong end.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
The conference has six ranked teams, five of which are in the top 13. Both of those numbers are most of any conference in the country.
Illinois and Michigan are still unbeaten with Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio State all with one loss and Michigan State joining Iowa with two losses.
The Wolverines have the highest ranking (2), but the Hoosiers were the top team in the country until suffering an overtime loss to Butler last weekend. It still seems that Indiana is the best team in the Big Ten, but things should really be up for grabs this conference season.
There really seems to be about seven or eight teams that could all contend for the conference title, but the big guns seem to be Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State, Minnesota and Michigan State.
Which one is most likely to come out on top?
I said before that I don’t think the Spartans have the talent and consistency to win the Big Ten this year. They just seem to play to the level of their competition, and that is a dangerous game when three losses in conference could take you out of the race.
I think Michigan has the talent, but they are still young and still have to have some concerns about defending in the paint. Glenn Robinson III is actually leading the team in rebounding at 6.5 per game. Jordan Morgan will need more of a presence inside. He is averaging just 4.8 boards per game right now.
So, who do you see winning the Big Ten this season? I am sticking with the preseason favorite, Indiana, because Tom Crean has slowly built the program into a solid team with strong depth. The Hoosiers can attack inside and out and have a competent coach leading the way.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Given some of the tough opponents early on, I think that is a pretty reasonable mark for the Spartans at this point in the season.
MSU handed Kansas its only loss of the season, and the two losses for the Spartans have come against 1-loss Miami and 2-loss Connecticut.
Still, Michigan State has had some shaky performances, with the narrow wins over Boise State and Lafayette coming to mind.
As a team, it is still quite hard to say what Michigan State is. At times they have looked brilliant. Other times they have looked awful.
It won’t surprise me if MSU ends up being a team that plays to the level of its competition throughout Big Ten play.
I don’t think the Spartans will get blown out, but I don’t see them having the all-around talent to light up many teams in the conference either.
Gary Harris has been as good as Michigan State could hope for from a true freshman. He is second on the team in scoring (13 ppg) and shooting 53.3% from the field. MSU was a noticeably different team when he was not playing due to a shoulder injury.
Keith Appling has been the team leader, which was expected. He is averaging 14.6 points per game and also leading the team in assists, with 45. Appling has still had his rough moments on the floor, though, and I am not completely sold that he is a players capable of leading MSU to a championship.
I do give credit to the development of Adreian Payne. He has been more impactful than I expected and he is also shooting 89.5 percent from the charity stripe, which is a great stat for a man of his size.
The Spartans have the potential to be great, but they face an uphill climb in the Big Ten. The majority of games in conference play will be a battle and the Spartans are relying on some young talent to be durable throughout the season.
The key to the season will be in leadership, and whether or not Appling can handle to the role of the go-to player. We all know he can score, but being a leader is about more than that.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
The Wolverines haven’t faced the toughest competition, but they also haven’t played a cake schedule. In recent years, wins over
Pittsburgh and would carry more
weight than they do this year. N.C. State was ranked 18th at the
time, so that still is a good win, relatively speaking. Kansas
Everyone knew what
had in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Those two have lived up to expectations
thus far, with Burke average 17 points and 7.1 assists per game and Hardaway
chipping in with 15.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
Many also knew of
talented freshmen that were coming in, led by Glenn Robinson III and Mitch
What has been somewhat surprising is the play of another freshman, Nik Stasukas.
Stauskas is currently third on the team in scoring at 13.9 points per game and he is shooting an amazing 63.6% from 3-point land (21 of 33).
With McGary being a little slow out of the gates, Stauskas has picked up the slack and made
into more of a dangerous team that first projected.
We have to assume that Stauskas will cool off at some point, but we can also expect McGary to improve. The key, either way, is that
Michigan has a lot of
scoring options this year.
With Robinson III’s 13.9 points per game,
Michigan has four players averaging double
figures in scoring. Outside of those four players, the Wolverines still have contributors
like Jordan Morgan and McGary.
Right now the Wolverines are third in the nation in shooting at 52.1 percent. It would be hard to see them continuing to shoot that well. But, unlike past seasons, it appears
won’t have to rely on shooting well from the outside to win games, which is why
it is fair to call Michigan
one of the best teams in the country right now.
Monday, December 3, 2012
The bowl schedule was announced on Sunday night and
Michigan and both found out
their bowl matchup. Michigan
Here is my thought on both contests.
There is no doubt that the Gamecocks have an amazing defense. They allowed just 17.4 points per game this year, which ranks 13th in the county. But
offense is not that strong and the Gamecocks will be without running back
Marcus Lattimore, who is their best player.
Even with Lattimore, the Gamecocks were held to just 11 points by
and 21 by LSU. The Michigan
defense should be able to keep the Wolverines in this game, especially with
Greg Mattison getting a month to prepare for the game.
The real question will be how much can the
offense score against South Carolina?
This will be a great physical test for the offensive line and the Gamecocks
should be able to match Michigan’s
offensive speed with their back seven.
The Wolverines will also face a great challenge in stopping sophomore defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney has 13 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss this year and has the ability to take over a game. It will be interesting to see how often he lines up across
Michigan tackle, Taylor Lewan, and who wins
Ultimately, it wouldn’t surprise me if this game rivals last year’s Sugar Bowl or this year’s MSU vs.
game. I don’t expect a ton of scoring, but both teams should have a chance to
win the game in the fourth quarter.
The Horned Frogs have a similar build, with a defense that is better than the offense. TCU doesn’t have as good of a defense as
, but it does have a better
offense. Michigan State
The Frogs are scoring just under 30 points per game this season while allowing 23.1 points per contest on defense. What TCU does well is defend the run. It is currently 10th in the nation in fewest rushing yards allowed, just two spots behind the Spartans.
What this means is that this game will ultimately come down to whether or not Andrew Maxwell can make the big throws.
MSU can’t expect Le’Veon Bell to take over the game, so Maxwell will have to convert third-down throws and be accurate with his deep balls. He will also have to avoid turnovers. The Horned Frogs have an impressive 21 interceptions this season.
With a little under a month to get ready for this game and no other game to look ahead to, I would hope the Spartans get creative in their preparation and open up the playbook for this game.
We have seen the development of the receivers throughout the season and it is clear there are some playmakers there. The offensive line will be as healthy as it can be given who is available, so if MSU is going to finally break through with its passing game, this would be the time.
It will likely be a close game once again for MSU, but this game is certainly one the Spartans can win.