Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reasons Michigan State can beat Michigan

Michigan State has the luxury of being at home on Saturday when it hosts rival Michigan at 3:30 p.m. The Spartans can really improve their chances at winning the Legends Division with a victory over the Wolverines. Here is a look at some reasons why they can beat Michigan on Saturday.

- Defense – It’s really no secret why Michigan State is 7-1 right now, it is largely due to its defense, which is one of the best in the country, and clearly the best in the Big Ten. MSU is giving up only 12.3 points and 215.6 yards per game. MSU’s worst outing came against Indiana, but the Spartans still held the Hoosiers to 28 points and 351 total yards, which are well below IU’s season averages of 42.4 points and 514 yards per game. Moving the ball on this unit has proven to be tough, especially when you have limited offensive weapons, as Michigan does.

- Winning up front – Michigan State has done a great job this season of controlling the line of scrimmage. The defensive line has been very impressive, leading an effort of allowing only 55 rushing yards per game. On offense, MSU didn’t start with a great line, but the group has improved and has been very strong in Big Ten play. Michigan State is averaging 206 rushing yards per game in conference action, and if the Spartans are able to control the tempo of the game with lengthy drives on offense, it will make things even more difficult for Michigan.

- Field position – It would be one thing if Michigan State was good on defense but awful on special teams, but that is not the case. Michigan State has one of the top punters in the Big Ten in Mike Sadler. Even if the Spartans stumble out of the gate on offense, Sadler should be able to keep the Wolverines pinned back. Michael Geiger is 6 of 7 on field goals right now and 3 of 3 on field goals from 40 yards and beyond. This game last year came down to a few points, so having a steady leg will be important.

- Devin Gardner – The Spartans don’t need any help on defense, but they may get it from Gardner. Gardner is a talented athlete with potential as a quarterback, but turnovers have been a big problem for him. He has 10 interceptions and a handful of lost fumbles this season. Michigan State’s defense has five touchdowns on its own this year, and with points at a premium in this game, a defensive touchdown for MSU might be all it needs to get the win. Gardner needs to be as close to mistake free as he can get if Michigan is going to win.

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