No, I’m not referring to the World War II film starring Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill which delves into the experiences of several US soldiers and the effects war has on them. I am referring to the Nebraska Cornhusker’s “Big Red One”. That would be Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead (130 attempts, 752 yards, and 10 TDs). Rex is very similar statistically to Wisconsin’s Montee Ball (125 attempts, 768 yards, and 16 TDs) who Michigan State had trouble stopping before he left last weekend’s game with an injury.
Everything starts and stops literally with Burkhead if the Spartan’s are to continue their quest of being Big Ten Champions. Rex is a power back Nebraska features in power heavy sets like two tight ends. He is currently ranked the 17th best back in the country averaging a little over 107 yards a game. Keep in mind Nebraska head coach, Bo Pelini, pulled him the second half, in a blowout victory over Minnesota a week ago. Nebraska’s rushing attack is ranked 7th in the country averaging 261 yards a game. Their scoring offense is rated the 20th best averaging 37 points a game. Michigan State did a nice job holding down Wisconsin’s #1 scoring offense, but MSU will be on the road in what is to be a crazy Lincoln Memorial Stadium.
Michigan State is currently ranked 8th nationally at stopping the run yielding roughly 89 yards a game. It all boils down to the experiences of several MSU defensive linemen when it comes to trench warfare when stopping the Big Red One. Defensive Tackles Jerel Worthy and Kevin Pickleman, along with Defensive Ends William Gholston and Marcus Rush really need to play their best game controlling the line of scrimmage allowing Michigan State linebackers the ability to fill. This will be the key for Michigan State to stop “The Big Red One” this weekend.
Enjoy the game!
Again, I must refer to the same blog as last weekend (How the Mighty have Fallen). I explain in the blog how football is a game of force. I also reiterated in last weekend’s Blog that Michigan is a soft football team, which is a good lead-in to this week’s column.
Why Mark Dantonio has to address the media regarding the aggressive toughness of his football team is absolute ridiculousness. It could only have been a Michigan Alum who would ask such asinine questions. Mark only needed to respond by saying “IT’S FOOTBALL!”
I am sick and tired of Yahoos destroying a game I have held sacred for nearly my entire life. Anyone asking such ignorant questions obviously has never played the game, or more crucially, does not understand the basic premise of football at all. There are various strategies deployed in order to win football games. Out-hitting and out-physicalling your opponent is present in every one. Michigan State won this battle and that’s why the Wolverines submitted in defeat. They simply had enough. It was utter dominance by Michigan State specifically sending Michigan a message for the next time. After four dominating performances against Michigan resulting in victories, a seed has been purely planted in both ball clubs. The seed of doubt permantely imbedded in Michigan while Michigan State continues to blossom into everything you want a football team to encompass.
If anyone wants to put in a complaint, it should be the Big Ten questioning its officials for their poor officiating. The officiating has really gotten out of hand the past few years, but that is for another blog altogether. There are rules currently in place for rough play, trash talk, etc, when players take their aggression too far on the field. They are called PENALTIES! Flags were thrown on both teams, while others were missed for excessive aggressive behavior. Furthermore, officials are on the field in the first place to control the game. The officials simply had to warn the players, then the coaches, notifying them if rough play continued, they would start ejecting players from the ball game. There you go Big Ten, problem solved by me and it’s in the current rule book utilized by your porous officials. I’ll also solve another problem for the Big Ten while I’m at it. Quit sending weekend warrior, out of shape, old men onto the field to control a ball game in the first place! Officiating needs to be a full time job. I’ll explain my solutions in a future blog.
The Big Ten has no one to blame but themselves. Absolutely crazy to think that was considered one of the best officiating crews in the country. I’m here to tell you THEY WERE GARBAGE! Also, the officiating crew in question was awarded the National Championship Game a year ago. There is too much at stake for all parties involved, including the Big Ten!
As a precursor to this weekend’s game between Wisconsin and Michigan State, I would like to officially warn the Big Ten and all those offended by violence during football games.
But first, I would like everyone to refresh their higher education. Please read, compliments of Wikipedia:
"Charles Robert Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist.[I] He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.
He published his theory with compelling evidence for evolution in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species, overcoming scientific rejection of earlier concepts of transmutation of species. By the 1870s the scientific community and much of the general public accepted evolution as a fact. However, many favoured competing explanations and it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed that natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution. In modified form, Darwin's scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life.
Darwin's early interest in nature led him to neglect his medical education at the University of Edinburgh; instead, he helped to investigate marine invertebrates. Studies at the University of Cambridge encouraged his passion for natural science. His five-year voyage on HMS Beagle established him as an eminent geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell's uniformitarian ideas, and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author.
Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin began detailed investigations and in 1838 conceived his theory of natural selection. Although he discussed his ideas with several naturalists, he needed time for extensive research and his geological work had priority. He was writing up his theory in 1858 when Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay which described the same idea, prompting immediate joint publication of both of their theories. Darwin's work established evolutionary descent with modification as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature. In 1871, he examined human evolution and sexual selection in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, followed by The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. His research on plants was published in a series of books, and in his final book, he examined earthworms and their effect on soil.
In recognition of Darwin's pre-eminence as a scientist, he was honored by a major ceremonial funeral in Westminster Abbey, where he was buried close to John Herschel and Isaac Newton. Darwin has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history."
My conclusion for this weekend’s game while considering the natural selection of soft individuals who question the physical nature of football thanks to knowledge rekindled by reading Wikipedia and Charles Darwin is:
WARNING SIGNS TO ALL! Wisconsin vs. Michigan State will be PHYSICAL! Both Football Programs are aware of this and accept this to be the reason why they currently lead the Big Ten in victories and dominate statistics nationally. They both will acknowledge that ONLY THE STRONGEST TEAM SURVIVES! After all, they understand IT’S FOOTBALL!
Last year, I took a lot of guff for a blog posted by the Spartan Sports Network that was quickly picked up by Detroit radio stations. Please check it out again in the Spartan Sports Network archives (Title “How the Mighty have Fallen”). I still don’t know why it was picked up or thought to be controversial. I simply stated the truth. Everything written in the Blog entry was fundamentally true and subsequently unfolded in last year’s Michigan State/Michigan game. Obviously, there are some Maize 'n Blue fans who just don’t like living in reality. I will only assume that a 4-year education in Ann Arbor will do that to you. Consistently being alternatively medicated by hosting “Hash Bashes” would affect anyone’s perspective and sense of reality. So this year, I will again, provide clarity and more perspective for Michigan Wolverine fans while they watch their team go “Up in Smoke” Saturday facing the Spartans.
New Michigan coach Brady Hoke has done a nice job restoring respectability to a great program which was in ashes under Rich Rodriguez. Hoke brought back guys who know the Big Ten like defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. They both were coaching at Michigan when I was playing at MSU in the early 90’s. They are solid guys and coaches, who are realistic about the approach the Wolverines must take. Hoke knows they’ve had a favorable early schedule and their biggest test to date will be the Spartans. He is definitely worried about MSU’s physicality. He even stated to the media, “Michigan State will be our hardest hitting game on the schedule.” I hope Brady’s team understood it to mean the game and not putting any effort hitting dorm room “one hitters” floating around.
It will take some time for Hoke to address the hard hitting nature of his football team. You have to recruit players who display the “want to” when it comes to getting physical. Players who carry the “want to” is strictly from within, it is not something Brady can just coach up. Michigan still falls short in this area defensively when tackling and hitting with a purpose. That is in stark comparison to Michigan State’s purpose, which is to dominate. Every player extended a scholarship offer under Mark Dantonio displays this trait and it has been ongoing for over 4 years now. I don’t think any two teams have identified it better than Michigan State and Wisconsin in the Big Ten. Iowa would be a close third. It will take Brady some time to overhaul the soft locker room mentality Rodriguez left in his wake.
Michigan is executing exactly what Dantonio executed upon arriving at MSU. Brady is maximizing the talent currently available on the roster. It still starts and stops with Robinson at quarterback along with some receivers that can make some plays on the outside. Michigan State will again focus on Robinson like they did last year. They beat him up physically and forced him into some poor decisions throwing the football, which is not Denard’s strength. He has been wildly inaccurate all year missing wide open receivers.
Offensively, the Spartan’s have to show up and execute a balanced game plan. Quarterback Kirk Cousins specifically has to be on point for the Spartans to win again by two touchdowns. If he is not, MSU can still get it done with their ground game. Controlling the clock and wearing down a much sounder Michigan defense under Greg Mattison, but they’re still soft. NO ONE - and I mean NO ONE - Michigan has played can go “Heavy Sets” like the Spartans can! The key to featuring these sets for MSU is to have a lead while continuing to tee off on Michigan’s biggest weakness.
If my memory serves me correctly, Michigan was undefeated last year before Michigan State came to town and abruptly left the Big House crowd silent. It had to be appalling for Michigan fans witnessing the assault and battery Michigan State was inflicting on their beloved Wolverines. Their brains possibly could have just been in a fog from early tailgating rituals, but the crickets were louder. How soon they forget last year’s beating - or want to forget - while strutting like peacocks with a perfect 6-0 record again. Michigan State is ready to inject another dose of reality. Cricket sounds from Spartan Stadium are highly doubtful on Saturday.
About JimEntering his sixth season as analyst for the Spartan Sports Network, Jim Miller was a three-year starter for Coach George Perles at Michigan State.
What’s in your football head? I want to know!