On November 2nd, the Michigan Wolverines travel to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans. This game will have more importance than the usual Spartans-Wolverines rivalry, as it will most likely have Big Ten Title implications. Michigan State is 4-0 in the conference (first in Legends Division) and Michigan is 2-1 in conference (third in Legends Division). Since this will probably be the Spartans biggest game of the year to date, let’s look at the keys to the game for the team wearing green and white.
The Michigan offense should not pose any problems to the MSU defense if they can just create turnovers. Michigan has a relatively poor rushing game, and MSU has a great run defense, so there aren’t any problems there. As far as the pass game goes, however, they are a little bit better. MSU, while having the best defense in the country, has given up a few big plays this season. If they can force Devin Gardner to throw interceptions (he has 10 already this season), it will be a very long day for the Michigan offense.
In the past four years, Michigan has averaged 15.8 points per game against MSU, despite having a good offense in each of those seasons. With the Spartan defense being better than it ever has this season, I don’t see the number eight scoring offense in the country scoring as many points as they usually do.
Get a push on the line of scrimmage
Michigan State’s offense thrives on a lot of runs and a little bit of passing to keep defenses honest. For example, last week, Connor Cook only passed the ball 16 times (he was 15/16) and the offense still managed to put up 42 points. Michigan could mess that system up, as they have the number eight run defense in the country. On the flip side, however, Michigan State has one of the best offensive lines in the country, statistically. If the Spartans can get the upper edge in the trenches and pound the ball nicely while still exploiting the spotty Michigan pass defense on occasion, they’ll put up a lot of points.
Keep the defense honest
Adding on to the last key, this is the type of game in which the Spartans could easily start running the same style play over and over again despite its success. If the run game is not working, I can definitely foresee the offense revert to chucking and (unsuccessfully) passing downfield for the remainder of the game. Whether the team has early success or not on the ground, they will have to mix things up to make sure the defense stays honest throughout the entire contest.
Continue strong play
When it all comes down to it, Michigan State’s just a better team than Michigan. If they play like they have been playing the past three to four weeks, they’ll be completely fine. They need to play smart and play safe, and despite this being a big game, they should win by a solid margin.