Tag Archives: Michigan State

One Big (Ten) Mess – Another College Football Roundtable

Finally into November and the homestretch of the Big Ten Conference season (and hopefully Greg Robinson’s last few games as Michigan’s ‘defensive coordinator’-hey, look at that, his ‘defense’ just gave up another touchdown). If you’re not familiar, Doug from The Detroit Transplant , Joe from Joe Knows Stuff and myself have been running a roundtable since the beginning of the season. Here’s what we’ve talked about this week. Also, pardon the mess-still working on the new look, but also just wanted to thank Doug for the brand new header. Awesome work!

The Big Ten Title Race is officially a mess. What happens the rest of the way, and which team is taking the title?

Doug (Michigan State): Okay, this is getting messy, you’re right. After MSU losing to Iowa last weekend, it’s a giant cluster-you-know-what. With that being said, we’re still technically ahead of the other “top” teams. Granted, Iowa has not played OSU yet, and that’s where the big piece comes in. If MSU and Iowa win out, we tie for the title, giving Iowa the heads up because they beat us. We own the head to head against Wisconsin, so unless we lose one more, Iowa loses one more, and Wisconsin wins out, they have no shot. OSU needs all three to lose to win a share of the title. Now that that’s sorted out, here’s what I see happening: MSU winning the title. We’re not the “same old Spartans,” and we really don’t have any foreseeable challenges on the horizon (in theory). Granted, this is the Big Ten, and anything can happen– that’s why you play the game (thanks Herm). Iowa I think will have issues, and that’s why I’m glad we avoid OSU altogether this year. I agree, lucky scheduling. MSU should win the title when the dust settles, in my opinion.

Joe (Wisconsin): I think the Michigan State loss is just the kind of game that can start a losing skid. I can’t see it happening this week, but I can see them start to lose their edge. I see Wisconsin winning out, and while they’re doing that, hanging on for dear life in the BCS Standings to win the conference.

Norm (Michigan): I see Iowa, Wisconsin, and MSU all tying for the conference title at the end of the season. With the exception of that wild Iowa/Wisconsin game, Iowa is an incredibly tough team at home-that team from Columbus will see their BCS/Conference Championship streak come to an end. Barring Michigan somehow pulling off a miracle win over Wisconsin (hey, it happened in ’08 so anything is possible) the Badgers should cruise. The biggest threat the Spartans have the rest of the season will be complacency.

What was the biggest surprise to you this past weekend?

Joe: Iowa making Sparty their bitch. I haven’t seen a blowout that shocking since… since….. probably some time last year, anyway.

Doug: How flat we looked against Iowa. My god, I wasn’t sure who was on the field. Cousins played uninspired and made some uncharacteristically bad throws– at one point I asked who dressed up as cousins for Halloween. The offense just looked bad, and the defense did too. It was just an overall bad outing. With that said, Michigan’s performance at PSU really shocked me too. They made Penn State look good, which concerns me about our last game of the season– I hope it was a one game thing.

Norm: Doug, it’s Michigan’s defense coached by Greg Robinson. I wouldn’t worry. That being said, I concur-Iowa absolutely dominating Michigan State. I always thought MSU looked shaky the last few weeks, but never thought I’d see them get blown out the way they did. Kirk Cousins looked like he was channeling Chuck Long-the Detroit Lions version.

There are still a few games left, but what two teams do you think will be involved in the BCS Championship Game?

Doug: What I want to see: Oregon vs. Boise State. Why? I want to see if they’re for real, Boise has been the epitome of success in college football in the last long while, and they haven’t really been tested. I want to see if the hype is worthy, or if we’re pumping up a good team that is in a horrifically weak conference. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see like 2,000+ yards of offense in ONE game?

What we’ll probably get: A snoozer. Thanks to computers, we can’t go by gut feelings and pick good games. To place heavy emphasis on one single game: the Iron Bowl will determine one of the teams, unless Auburn lays an egg against Georgia. If Oregon wins out– may not be easy either– they’ll be the other team. High powered offense vs. high powered defense. Yep, I’m picking Alabama vs. Oregon. And I bet I fall asleep by half time.

Joe: I can’t see Oregon falling, and I can’t see Boise State getting in, because Alabama will get the voter love late, Auburn’s got a burning problem that will distract them into a loss to Bama, and I’d honestly be interested in seeing if the SEC can be outrun.

Norm: No argument here. I’d love to see Boise State here (but the computers will give us Broncos v. Horned Frogs…again), but Oregon and Alabama will more than likely get the nod (unless the Ducks stumble at Corvallis in the season finale-always a strong possibility when it comes to those two).

Switching things up a bit since we’re all fans of NFC North teams-which team do you think will take the division?

Joe: The Packers are in the driver’s seat, Jeff George’s spirit in a younger body will sink the Bears, the Vikings are a mess, and the Lions aren’t quite ready for prime time.

Doug: How bout this: I HAVE NO IDEA. The Bears are finally reaping the rewards of Martz’s system– the INT. The Packers don’t know what they’re doing on the field, and have no running game. The Vikings have a revolving door at WR, and Brett Favre is being fitted for a walker. The Lions– I can’t believe I’m saying this– have been the most consistent team in the division this year. That doesn’t mean they’ll win it, but it means they’re a threat to spoil it. And with NYJ, DAL, and BUF coming up, the reality of being a 5-5 team is really not that far off.

As for who takes the division, I have to go with Green Bay– and only because they’re the best team that has the least amount of problems in their lap compared to the other 3. Lions, penalties; Vikings, age/senility; Bears, Jay Cutler. So yeah, Packers by a slim margin in the tightest NFC North race we’ve seen in a LONG time. Like one game. Wouldn’t it be perfect for us to ruin Favre’s last game? That may be what makes it close.

Norm: I’m just in absolute shock that the Lions even have a shot (sure it’s a small chance, but it is one) at the NFC North in November. I still think the Pack will pull it off, but this is a Lions team playing with some confidence. I’d also like to take this moment to laugh at the Vikings and Brett Favre. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

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A Wolverine Hosts a Spartan and a Badger…(an MSU/Wisconsin preview)

…clearly coming up with catchy post titles is not my thing-something to work on for down the road. Anyway, I digress…since the start of the college football season Doug (owner of The Detroit Transplant blog and the resident Spartan), Joe (writer of Joe Knows Stuff and the resident Badger) and myself have been hosting a football roundtable, and this was supposed to be no different. The opening of Big Ten conference play presented a nice little opportunity to change things up just a little bit however: Michigan State opens up at home against the University of Wisconsin in a very big game for both ranked teams. We all thought it’d be better if I shelve the jokes about Greg Robinson’s defense for a week and just play moderator for Doug and Joe. Hey, it’s that political time of year and there’s nothing wrong with a good debate. Ready? Let’s go, with the first question directed toward Doug…

Why will Michigan State win on Saturday?

Doug (MSU): Offensive balance and momentum. The guys will be ready to play, and Coach D will be upstairs coaching. We’re on a 4 game winning streak, and the team is playing better and better every week. Caper is back for his first big game, and all three (yes, three) running backs are playing outstanding right now.

In terms of offensive balance, how many teams can say they can have 3 running backs on their roster that could start? Kirk Cousins hasn’t made many mistakes this year, and he’s got a lot of weapons to throw to. If Wisconsin stops the run, we can pass with the best of them, and vice versa.

That’s why MSU will win on Saturday.

Joe (Wisconsin): Doug, you guys have a good team, but I giggled a bit when you talked about the three running backs playing outstanding. That’s par for the course over in these parts. We have a veteran quarterback that’s not going to lose us games, we’re getting our offensive weapons back from injuries, and you still have to worry about the backs and Kendricks at tight end. Of course, we also have the farm boys at offensive line. I’d put our offense up against yours.

As for defense, we still have playmakers, even if we are lacking Chris Borland. If we can remember how to play something other than a cover 4 soft zone against a team that matters, I like our chances of stopping your offense too, maybe not every time, but enough to help our offense take care of business.

If Michigan State wins, it will be because our special teams decided to be terrible again. They do that quite frequently. I don’t see them failing as miserably as they did against ASU, because if they do, they have no chance at doing any damage in the Big 10. None.

Doug: I’ll give you the fact that Caper hasn’t shown much on the season since he’s only played one game, but you can’t deny the fact that we have a top 20 running game with 3 guys that are some of the most explosive in the big ten– you’ll see that saturday. It’s hard to judge either offense though, because neither team has really played a sizeable opponent, most likely a good explanation for the #10 and #17 running game rankings.

While we’re talking stats, both teams are within 3 points of each other in points for and points against– also can be attributed to not playing anyone tough as of yet.

It’s really hard to get a judge on how this game will play out based on those numbers– neither team has been tested. If I’m going based on sheer momentum, MSU is going to win because they’re not accustomed to starting undefeated and being ranked, where it’s just a walk in the park for Wisconsin. That’s the perfect recipe for an upset.

Alright, for Joe: which player on the Badgers should the Spartans be most concerned about on Saturday?
Joe: I hate to give away trade secrets, but Lance Kendricks is another in a long line of two-way Badger tight ends. We’re going to get running yards, that’s not going to be completely stifled, but if the Spartans get gashed by Kendricks slipping across the formation on a play fake, it could be a long day for Sparty.
Doug: I’ve got two, and one of them is going to be covering Kendricks for a large portion of the afternoon–

Greg Jones. He had 2 INTs last week (first two of his career), and he’s been playing hard all season so far. This is going to be our first test, and I think Jones is up to the task. He’s one of the best linebackers in the country.

Our hidden weapon though, who really has flown under the radar for the most part, is Keshawn Martin. Last season, every time he touched the ball (rushes, receptions, KRs and PRs) he averaged 18.2 yards A TOUCH. This season, he’s averaging 14.8 a carry rushing, and 13.2 a catch. He’s got the speed, and he’s got the moves to make big plays.

Alright, just interrupting for a moment. This is the part in the discussion where I realized that I pretty much suck at asking questions that can keep the conversation going, or even moderate a debate. I blame my high school counselor for not letting me take a Journalism class until my senior year. Anyway, I decided to just throw it out to let one of these two ask the next question, and Doug obliged.
What scares you about MSU?
Joe: From the reports I’m getting, they’re a very similar team to what we are, and I don’t see nearly the special teams problems. If MSU can make a play or two on special teams, this could get too close for comfort.

Your turn. What scares you about the Badgers?

Doug: Scott Tolzien. He’s a great passer, and our secondary is comparable to the Lions’. I think we can handle the run with our great linebackers, but the passing defense has left a lot to be desired, especially giving up 400+ yards to Notre Dame. Scott Tolzien could have a monster game against us.

What’s your prediction for the game?

Joe: I have Wisconsin 31, Michigan State 21. A late Badgers drive, up 3 and needing to protect the ball, finally breaks it open with Clay left, Clay right, Clay left, Clay right, and so on and so forth. A worn down Michigan State defense can only create 2 third down situations, and both are easily mastered. With less than two minutes to play, the Badgers finally cross the goal line, and a last ditch Michigan State drive ends in a tipped pass interception.
Doug: Haha Joe, that’s very specific. I’ve got MSU winning a shootout– 42-38. Both teams are high scoring, neither defense has been tested entirely either, and I think both teams are going to catch each other off guard on offense. Kirk Cousins will have a big game, but the explosive backs will carry Sparty to the gigantic upset– especially Le’Veon Bell.
So there you have it. Wisconsin visits Spartan Stadium to kickoff the Big Ten season for both teams (I really need to work on my closing statements too).

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Doing that College Football Roundtable Thing again…

Last week, a college football season preview roundtable of sorts was hosted over at The Detroit Transplant by our good friend Doug, and we were joined by another good friend of mine Joe (he runs a blog that you should all check out called Joe Knows Stuff…seriously, you should go check it out it’s even on my blogroll). It seemed like suck a good idea we decided to take a shot at another one. So since you already clicked the link and got this far, you might as well just keep on reading. Without further ado…

Opening weekend has come and gone. What did you like/dislike about your team performance in Game 1?

Joe (Wisconsin Badgers): Can’t say I’m thrilled about the second quarter, but the rest of the game was Badger Football at its finest.

Doug (Michigan State Spartans): I loved that we got to see yet another running back succeed in our system. Two 100 yard rushers against any team is moderately impressive. The defensive side of the ball scared me– way too many easy throws for a bad quarterback. The secondary specifically was pretty shaky, and the penalties we got (I’m hoping) were just first week jitters. Caper should be back this week, giving us three running backs for the FAU and ND games, all whom have big play potential and will have fresh legs because of splitting carries.

Norm (Michigan Wolverines): I honestly didn’t expect to see (and by the look of things neither did the UConn defense) the type of performance that QB Denard Robinson gave in his first start. Everyone knew he could run, but he also made smart decisions throwing the ball and rarely missed. The offensive line was also solid, giving Robinson time to make reads and take off running. Defensively? Well, they made plays when they had to but I also think the Husky offense helped them out in that regard-dropping passes, missing open receivers, and turnovers. I didn’t like seeing Tate Forcier sulking on the sideline, and hope this matter gets taken care of internally. Given the fact that Denard took off to run 29 times, odds are the Wolverines are going to need both Forcier (remember, last year at this time the accolades were rolling in for this guy just like they are for Robinson now) and true freshman Devin Gardner to assume the role of signal caller eventually.

What was your favorite game (excluding your team) from this past weekend?

Doug: How could you not vote for the VT Boise State game? In a week full of duds and lame games, this stood out as the great game of the week. I would nominate Ole Miss and Jacksonville State, but it’s Ole Miss– they got overrated enough last year. VT and Boise was pure college football, and as much as the BCS purists want to argue it, they’re really fun to watch and a solid team.

Joe: I have to say the Boise State – VT game. Both teams lived up to their rankings. Also want to give an honorable mention to East Carolina vs. Tulsa. That ending was fun to watch.

Norm: Since you both covered the incredible Boise State/Virginia Tech game (and I agree), I’m also going to mention the LSU/North Carolina match. The fact that the undermanned Tar Heels were able to come back and almost steal the game from the Tigers was exciting, and also hammers home the point that once again Les Miles coached teams have some real clock management problems.

We’re all aware that the Big Ten has announced their football divisions that begin with the 2011 season. How do you feel about them, and why?

Joe: I think we already covered this, but Wisconsin got it sideways up… well, we’ll just stop there. I also hate that most teams don’t get to face their rivals in-division, as I think it would be great fun for Michigan and Ohio State to compete for the division at the end of the year, or for one to play spoiler to the other. That’d happen more often than a title game matchup, especially since a loss to the other could hinder the losing team’s chances of getting there anyway.

Doug: Obviously Joe sees it the way I do. The divisions are so imbalanced it’s not even funny. In the preliminarily named “division o”, I think the top two teams are MSU and UM. Nebraska was nominated as a top team because of history– they’re really not that great, and Iowa I feel has always been a tad wishy-washy. Division X is stacked, and features every single team I never want to play as MSU. Take it for what it’s worth– it may change next year, but right now it’s looking like a Big 12 kind of setup with the North being completely incomparable to the South division. I like the fact though that there will be a title game, and that for once, MSU has a legitimate shot at getting a title in this climate because Ohio State can’t just waltz through their cakewalk schedule anymore.

Norm: I think both of these divisions are a lot closer in talent than either of you give credit. Nebraska is back on the rise after getting Callahan’d, and Iowa is strong enough now as well. That division with Michigan and Michigan State is going to be tough…as is the division with that other ‘school’ that shall not be named.

Polls-what is the earliest time of the season you’d start them and why?

Doug: Week 1 is fine with me, but I think there should be some more thought put into them. They should be more subjective, consider the players that have left/transferred, and actually really look hard for the top 25. If someone isn’t willing to do that, wait til week 4, when teams have played at least one meaningful game– not cupcake schools. There were teams in the top 5 to start this season that will clearly finish unranked (I’m looking at you Texas and Florida), and those rankings are largely in part due to Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy– neither of whom are on their respective college teams anymore. That is exactly why the polls need to be based on projections, not history.

Joe: Why not now? Gives us something more to argue about.

Norm: I’ve always felt polls were useless before at least four games have been played, and I still feel that way. That way rankings are based more on what the team has done to that point as opposed to what everyone was expecting prior to the first game.

The NFL starts up this weekend…now it’s a given that we all love football, but which do you prefer to watch: college or pro?

Joe: I prefer the pageantry of college football as a whole, but as a Packers fan, I like to think I get a little bit of both worlds, what with the deep tradition of the Packers and the small-town atmosphere of the team. I think if I lived over your way, I’d prefer college for sure, but I still have to say NFL, for the Packers alone.

Doug: I watch both for different reasons. The NCAA has this level of, as Joe said, pageantry that can’t be touched by any other sport I can think of. The history, pride, and the all out determination the kids have to make a good name for themselves and for their schools is what draws me to college football. Plus, I’m in college– I think that has some weight to it as well. On the other hand, the NFL is the cream of the crop. You see top talent, and more now than ever: any team can get upset. I love seeing my team (the Lions) making it back to a winning franchise, and I think that’s what draws me to the game even more.

Overall, I see them as two different sports, both in atmosphere and in talent, so I love them equally.
Norm: I’m partial to the college game…my first memories of football are of Bo, Anthony Carter, Rick Leach, the Maize and Blue. When I’d want to watch the Lions in my younger years, it seemed like I’d be more likely to see a showing of Mary Poppins or Tron thanks to the silly NFL blackout policy. The atmosphere at a college game blows away anything I’ve ever seen in the NFL. Don’t get me wrong, I love the pro game but college football gets the edge for me.
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