Fresh or Flat

Nov 15, 2012 Jim Miller | View Comments

Michigan State’s home football schedule concludes Saturday against the Northwestern Wildcats, following a bye week which the Spartans benefited from, allowing players like linebacker Chris Norman, and safeties R.J. Williamson and Kurtis Drummond to heal. Now, the players should be refreshed, refocused, and ready to make a bowl game push on Senior Day this Saturday. Any bowl game aspirations for Michigan State begins by beating the Wildcats this weekend. They cannot allow this opportunity to pass them by, which would essentially create a one and done type of road game with Minnesota to close the season.

RECENT BYE WEEK HISTORY

Thanks to an experienced group of seniors at key positions, Michigan State responded favorably after the bye week defeating Michigan 28-14 last year. Furthermore, playing the rival Wolverines is always a motivating factor.

This season, the Spartans have plenty of motivation as well, as the Spartans search for their 6th win, and consequently, a bowl bid. It just leaves me wondering if inexperience coming off the bye week could result in a slow start for the Spartans.

Northwestern is not a team the Spartans can afford to sleep on early. If Michigan State digs an early hole like they did against Indiana, the Spartans will quickly find out that Northwestern is much better than Hoosiers, and a comeback victory such as the one they had in Bloomington a few weeks back will be much harder to produce.

Here's the difference: Northwestern averages around 30 points a game, while Michigan State only hovers around the 19 to 20 point range. Northwestern also cranks out yardage in their two quarterback system by converting 3rd downs at over a 40% clip. The Wildcats count on moving the chains and plan to score every time they possess the ball. Their offense is fast, furious, efficient, and relentless, but not reckless.

Michigan State’s offense must show up early and be consistent for the entire game. Most importantly, they must score! The offense has been better the last two games against Wisconsin and Nebraska, but I just wonder if the time off hurts this group. They have not been a group displaying the ability to turn it on or off all season.

Here's the challenge: Will they play fresh or flat? How much as this Spartan team grown? The answers will come Saturday.