Some things are just meant to be. Michigan State was meant to be in this Title game. After all, they’ve earned it! Michigan State’s October schedule was brutal, but they survived. Wins against Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and a slip against Nebraska are clues, but honestly, they could've easily been undefeated during that stretch of the schedule.
Wisconsin has earned it as well, but their motivation banter is lacking in substance to what the Spartans are promoting this Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium for the inaugural Big Ten Title trophy.
Spartan Fans aren’t you just worn out…tired? Yea, I’m with you, it was in my last blog. ENOUGH!
How much is enough? Wisconsin wants to view this game as if they want pay back for a Hail Mary pass completion for a Michigan State victory earlier in the season 37-31. I say… GREAT!
Michigan State is about to annihilate the Wisconsin Badgers and here is why:
1. The first matchup seemed close, but it wasn’t. Michigan State basically gave Wisconsin 14 points (official's bad calls included). It will not happen again!
2. Lucas Oil Stadium plays to the Spartans strengths. If Wisconsin thought the Spartan defense was fast before, just wait until game day! The Spartans will dominate the speed differential on all fronts when it comes to artificial turf play.
3. The Spartan offense has answered the bell. Michigan State is peaking offensively (i.e. 41 pts per game average the last 4 weeks) and there's no doubt its better offensively compared to the first time these teams met in East Lansing.
CUT IN HALF
I guess it is hard for some to fathom, but Wisconsin’s offensive production will basically be cut in half due to Michigan State’s defensive efforts. Michigan State’s defense has done it all year, against every team, including Wisconsin! The Big Ten's leading rusher, Montee Ball, will be unproductive again.
What? How can this be?
I guess I was just imagining things, like when Montee Ball was knocked out of the first matchup.
MORE PUNISHIMENT is about to FOLLOW for Mr. Ball and it will be with MORE AUTHORITY! Sorry Ball fans, I just call em like I see em.
Is Bret Bielema really going to play the Pay Back card due to an earlier loss this season to MSU on a Hail Mary pass?
You have got to be kidding me!
It’s only another strength favoring Michigan State in this matchup. MSU is about to unleash a frustration against Wisconsin, which goes back to their Rose Bowl appearance a year ago.
WHY, you ask? BECAUSE IT WAS NOT EARNED, and that’s a sore point for Michigan State. It is time for Michigan State to remove all doubt. This may just be my two cents, but this weekend's game will NOT include MSU launching HAIL MARY’s this time around.
Bottom Line: a 10-2 record is better than 9-3. Although the Spartans have locked up an inaugural Big Ten Title game appearance on December 3rd, this weekend’s game against Northwestern has is very important and stacked with meaning. It’s meaningful for the Michigan State program, it’s meaningful for the seniors who want to go out winners, and it’s meaningful for BCS Bowl implications if Michigan State, god forbid, were to lose the Big Ten Title game.
Mark Dantonio has always preached respect since his arrival at MSU. Respect your team, your opponents, and most importantly, respect the game of football. The old saying is “you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse”. It truly applies in football. The Spartans have been consistently striving to get better in all three phases this year. No better example would be the Michigan State Offense that had many Spartan fans worried after the loss to Nebraska. No need to worry, the exact opposite has unfolded.
Here are the numbers:
1. MSU Offense - has recorded more than 400 yards of total offense for three straight games (402 yds vs. Minnesota, 443 yds vs. Iowa, and 470 yds vs. Indiana).
2. The Spartans have also average 41 points a game during this three game stretch
3. Total yard per game average is 438.3 yards during these three games as well.
Not too shabby!
I always like to remind the Spartan faithful of the vision Mark Dantonio has set for the Michigan State program. As per usual and much like football, let’s stay consistent. Please go back and read a past blog I wrote called “Buckle Up Little Camper”. I wrote it after the loss to Alabama in the Capitol One Bowl last year.
I say it on the radio and I will put it in print right now. It is not time for the Spartans to DECELERATE, resting on any laurels as if they have arrived, IT’S TIME TO ACCELERATE! They have not arrived by any stretch of the imagination. There is plenty of more work to be done to gain the respect Michigan State desires. This weekend’s game against Northwestern is a game the Spartans should win and quite frankly, should dominate.
Michigan State respects Northwestern’s program, players, and coaches. It is now the time for the Spartans to make a move to gain the respect they have worked tirelessly to achieve. This does not only pertain to this weekend’s game versus Northwestern, but the two subsequent games following. If Michigan State wants respect, then they have to “TAKE IT” from here on out.
The title of this blog was a statement made by head coach Mark Dantonio at Tuesday’s press conference. Coaches are always emphasizing discipline, mechanics, fundamentals, and execution. But there are other aspects coaches emphasize in order to win on the road, like last week in MSU's 37-21 beating of Iowa. They emphasized bringing a storm, to start fast, force turnovers, avoid penalties, and being physical. Every game could have a different emphasis in order to win. Every player is coached differently with a different emphasis to get better.
But now there is an emphasis on the here and now, with a clear vision of the future. Michigan State is in the here and now because its emphasized winning with continuity of talent and continuity of coaches as mandated by Coach Dantonio. Dantonio has also mandated 20 freshmen be redshirted. That type of emphasis should not go unnoticed. The future is very bright for MSU. Redshirting 20 freshmen is a clear sign that there is quality talent on the field for Michigan State. These young and talented freshmen are getting a good base while coaches place key areas of emphasis to get better. I can name a handful of programs in the country displaying the same emphasis exhibited by Michigan State. They are all successful.
On to Indiana
Michigan State will continue to emphasize areas of improvement when facing Indiana as well. This weekend's game is not about Indiana, it's about what MSU needs to do to get better before the bowl season.
Areas of emphasis are:
- Rushing offense – Michigan State is 12th in Big Ten (132.8 YPG). Hello Indiana! Indiana is worst in Big Ten at stopping the run. The Hoosiers yield 245 yards per game. Michigan State is never going to have a Big Ten leading rusher due to its back rotation, but Le’Veon Bell looks to be Michigan State’s best back. Bell is currently 9th in the Big Ten in rushing with an average of 64 yards per game - totaling 639 yards and 9 TDs. These numbers should improve, beginning this weekend.
- 3rd down conversions – Again, Michigan State is 12th in the conference, converting at only 35.4% (51/144). This will be emphasized more the last two games due to the spread attacks of Indiana and Northwestern. Michigan State’s offense has to stay on the field. By not converting on 3rd down, it affects the Red Zone offense, because the number of opportunities to get in the Red Zone is reduced.
- Red Zone Offense – 12th yet again for Michigan State as aforementioned in point #2, but if MSU does get in the Red Zone, it must cash in either by field goal or preferably touchdown. Michigan State is a league worst at 76.9% (30-39). This must improve and will be greatly emphasized Northwestern week.
Indiana is the starting point for these areas to improve. The Hoosiers are a young team playing 26 freshmen. But youth brings inexperience and mistakes, which is why Indiana has a 1-9 record overall, including 0-6 in Big Ten play. Defensively, Indiana is 12th in Rushing Defense (245 ypg), Total Defense (452 ypg), and Scoring Defense (36 ppg). The three weakest areas where Michigan State needs to improve its checklist. Indiana will prove to be a good confidence booster for Michigan State’s offense to close out the season strong. Then, the Spartans will be primed to go bowling.
Remember comedian Bill Cosby’s famous skit “I’m sick and tired”? Well, I’m just tired at this point of everyone talking about the difficulties of playing on the road. The Hawkeye football team is the only problem on this road trip. I have addressed the travel issue previously but the challenges are almost always the same. It’s […]
Some things you just cannot explain to Spartan fans. I can get pretty in depth football-wise to all the Spartan Sports Network faithful, but I know why Michigan State lost to Nebraska. The effort was there, but adjustments were a problem.
The answer would be running back Larry Caper getting injured on the opening kickoff. Michigan […]
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!