Friday, October 8, 2010

Prediction For The Battle For the Paul Bunyan Trophy

This is an exciting time for MSU and U of M fans, because for the first time in a long time, this game has big implications for both teams.  Last year both teams entered with good records, but this year has so much more.  The winner of this game is vaulted to the top 15 in the polls, and has a chance at winning the Big Ten.  If MSU wins, a 10-2 or better season is very attainable, they beat their rivals for the 3rd time in a row (twice on the road) and are closing the gap against them.  RichRod could lose his job for struggling to beat anybody but Indiana in the Big Ten.  For Michigan, winning the game means they can beat a legit team and that the program may be on the right track, and a bowl game is locked up for the first time in 2 years. 

For MSU to win:  MSU  can outscore Michigan, because of superior special teams and defense.  MSU has a more balanced offense, with weapons across the board.  Bell and Baker and both incredible young backs, and Kirk Cousins has played better the last few weeks.  Hes already a vet who keeps the ball safe.  The Wolverine's defense doesn't scare me at all.  Cousins should be safe and the team should move the ball at will. 

The defense, although not great, is good and has one of the best players in the nation with Greg Jones.  The pass rush should be solid, but with Robinson, you should hang back and watch his running.  Rushing him won't really help, since most of the passes are out in under 3 seconds.  Shutting down everybody but him won't help either, as he has shown he can do it all himself.  Playing solid, creating turnovers and trying to slow down Robinson's running should be top priorities. 

I have a ton of confidence in MSU's special teams, even though Conroy is very young.  Bates is a good punter, and occasional dramatic touchdown thrower, and Keshawn Martin is a dynamic returner.  They could steal a game.

For Michigan to win:  They have to find some sort of defense to slow the balanced Spartans.  They have to cause turnovers, because turnovers can cover up poor play.  Getting to Cousins has to be big too, since he will shred you if given time to throw.  If the defense keeps MSU to under 30, it will be a monumental effort.

The offense is key.  If they can put up enough points, they can win.  I know it sounds stupid, but scoring more points could be the only way to win.  The weather should be great, so both teams will be playing in prime conditions.  Robinson has to show he can play against a tough defense, by far the best he has seen this season.  If he spreads the ball around (like he does well) and completes short passes to keep off the pass rush and linebackers, he could see some running lanes.  Michigan has to score and not let the game come down to special teams, because they are just as poor as the defense.  I can't understand why Michigan hasn't found a decent kicker since Hayden Epstein in the late 90's.  MSU churns out NFL kickers (Edinger, Swenson, Rayner) and Michigan can't even find someone serviceable.  But it is at home, and the crowd will be pumped.  They have to play like it.

Prediction:  Dantonio is back and the Spartans will be even more pumped for this game.  That only lasts for so long though.  They will have to play hard and fast against a team that is hungry to win.  I doubt being on the road will hurt them much, but it could be the difference since both teams are good and ready to play.  Michigan needs to find a defense and play their best game on offense.  Robinson has to play well to win and become a serious Heisman contender.  This game should be an instant classic, with no lead being safe.  I have to go with the more complete and battle tested Spartans in this game.  On a side note, MSU has not lost to Michigan in football or basketball since my blog was created.  Think about it.  GO GREEN!

MSU 38 Michigan 30

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