Michigan State Preview 2010

The Wolverines and Spartans come into the 2010 game undefeated and ranked in the Top 20 (#18/#17). Although the Spartans are ranked one notch higher, the oddsmakers have placed Michigan as a 4 point favorite. The 2010 version of this rivarly will give Ohio State a contender for this year's Big Ten title. The Spartans will be going for three wins in a row over Michigan, and the last time they accomplished that was 1965-66-67 (the Bubba Smith years). Michigan leads the rivarly 67-3-5 and in Michigan Stadium 33-17-3. Since 1968, Michigan has won every home game against the Spartans except the 35-21 win in 2008, 28-27 in 1990, 19-7 in 1984 and 24-15 in 1978 (#5 vs. #4). The Michigan State win in 2008 in Ann Arbor was their biggest win in point differential since the 1961 game that was a 28-0 Spartan victory when both teams were ranked #5 and #6 nationally. In the previous meetings where both teams were ranked in the Top 25: 2003 (11/9), 1999 (3/11), 1997 (5/15), 1979 (11/16), 1975 (8/15) and 1964 (7/9) those games were in East Lansing. The worst period ever in the rivalry for Michigan was from 1956-1963, when the Spartans beat us 6 of 8 years with two of those battles ending in ties. One of the big differences in this rivalry has always been that we are the Spartan's biggest rival, and they are simply one of our rivals with Ohio State being our biggest rival.

Offensively, the Spartans are led by Holland Junior Quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins is ranked #13 nationally in passing efficiency completing over 67% of this throws, and defeated the Wolverines in 2009 with a terrific performance. Cousins overcame two sacks and two interceptions to go 15 of 21 for 152 yards plus 7 scrambles for 75 yards, and 9 of 20 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. The Spartans intend to run the ball, and run the ball effectively against the Wolverines. Their three running backs, Oak Park Sophomore Edwin Baker, Freshman Le'Veon Bell and Battle Creek Sophomore Larry Caper will be aiming to put up another 200+ yard rushing game as they did in 2009. Last year, Caper scored 2 TDs including the overtime run to win a 20-26 thriller. This season, Baker is averaging 107 yards and Bell 94 yards per game; Bell has 7 TDs and Baker 5 TDs in 5 games. Their fullback is 5th year standout Nick Bendzuch. At wide receiver, the Spartans have Farmington Senior Mark Dell, Westland Junior Keyshawn Martin and Junior B.J. Cunningham as primary receivers with Ex-Quarterback and Lowell Junior Keith Nichol, Ypsilanti Redshirt Freshman Donald Spencer and Bloomfield Hills Redshirt Freshman Bennie Fowler in reserve. One may expect to see Keyshawn Martin run reverses and misdirections. Cunningham has been their leading receiver with 17 catches including 3 for TDs. At Tight End, the Spartans have a good one in Farmington Senior Charlie Gantt; he has 2 TDs including the overtime catch to beat Notre Dame. Michigan State's offensive line is led by three 5th year players in Lansing Left Tackle, D.J. Young, Right Tackle, Toronto's J'Michael Deane and Macomb Center John Stipek. Milford Junior Left Guard Joel Foreman and Sterling Heights Sophomore Right Guard Chris McDonald round out a solid unit for the Spartans. They are ranked #20 nationally in rushing offense with over 220 yards per game and #24 in scoring offense averaging over 36 points per game. The Spartans have a balanced attack, and will be difficult to contain especially for our defense although their 3rd down conversion rate is last in the Big Ten. Last year, Jordan Kovacs had 17 tackles and Obi Ezeh had 14 and I'm sure we'll use a 4-3 more often to combat their strong running attack.

On Defense, Michigan State is led by returning All-Big Ten and All-American Senior MIKE Linebacker, Greg Jones. Jones leads the team in tackles, tackles of loss, interceptions and forced fumbles. He is a Butkus candidate and probable high NFL draft pick. He is flanked at the two other Linebacker positions by 5th year starters John Misch from Waterford and Traverse City's Eric Gordon at STAR and SAM. Gordon led the Spartan defense in tackles against the Wolverines in the 2009 contest. Detroit Sophomore Chris Norman will also see action at linebacker. Their defensive line is anchored by 5th year Defensive End Colin Neely. The defensive tackles are manned by Sophomore Jerel Worthy and Kevin Pickelman with Sophomore Tyler Hoover or Redshirt Freshman Denzel Drone applying the heat at Rush End. One may expect to see Freshman William Gholston at Rush end, Oak Park Junior Defensive End Jonathan Strayhorn and East Lansing Sophomore Blake Treadwell at Nose Tackle. Gholston has 4 quarterback hits although only seeing spot duty. The defensive backfield is led by Senior Cornerback Chris Rucker and 5th Year Strong Safety Marcus Hyde. Sophomore Johnny Adams mans the other corner and the Free Safety is Bay City Junior Trenton Robinson. The Spartan pass defense is ranked 9th in the Big Ten so we must prepare to take advantage of this, but it is imperative that we also run the ball against them. The Spartans are ranked #3 in the conference in rushing defense allowing only 101 yards per game, and only 3 rushing TDs. They will be challenge by our offense who is ranked #3 nationally in rushing offense with a 324 yard per game average and #3 in total offense with 565 yards per game while allowing the least amount of sacks nationally.

Keshawn Martin is one the most dangerous returners in college football. He is currently ranked #8 nationally in punt returns with an 18.5 yard average, and also handles kickoff returns along with Bell. Martin broke a 74 yard punt return for a TD that completely changed momentum in the Wisconsin game last week with Wisconsin ahead 10-6 in the second quarter. The momentum carried the Spartans to a 20-10 halftime lead and they completely dominated the 3rd quarter with over 12 minutes of possession time and taking a 21-17 lead into the 4th quarter. It will be critical to contain him in this phas of the game. Senior Aaron Bates is their punter; he threw the TD pass against Notre Dame on the fake field goal. Bates punted three times in the 2009 game and pinned us inside the 20 twice. He currently is averaging 45.2 yards in 20 punts with 5 of those being over 50 yards. Troy Redshirt Freshman Kevin Muma handles kickoffs and Sophomore Dan Conroy is their field goal placekicker, and Conroy is 7 for 7 on field goals and 22 of 22 on extra points. The Spartans definitely have an advantage in special teams, but hopefully we won't let them gain an advantage on Saturday. If the game comes down to a field goal, the Spartans lead the league with 7 of 7 while we are last with 1 of 5.

There is no doubt that who wins the ground game in this epic battle should triumph on October 9, 2010. In 2009, the Spartans put up 3 rushing TDs to our zero rushing TDs, and we netted 28 yards compared to 220 for the Spartans. In addition, they sacked us 3 times while we garnered only two sacks. We must win the ground game and come up with more physical play to win this one. One would have to feel that Denard Robinson's presence should be able to help the Wolverines gain a ground game advantage in this one, and hopefully he can withstand the hits the Spartans will dish out. Will Robinson break Butch Woolfolk's record of 253 yards against the Mighty Spartans? In each game played in this rivarly since 1970, if one team has put up 200 or more yards rushing, that team prevailed except in the 1978 game when MSU outrushed us 248-233 and won 24-15 behind Eddie Smith's 500+ yards of total offense. Three of the last six games have gone into overtime. Let's Go BLUE! There will be NO SPARTAN WIN in 2010!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Michigan Wolverines 31 Michigan State Spartans 22

Big Ten Network Preview

Press Conference for Michigan State (Coach Rod, Stephen Schilling, Denard Robinson, Mike Martin, Obi Ezeh, Roy Roundtree, Jordan Kovacs)

Game Notes for Michigan State (Depth Chart) MSU Game Notes for Michigan (Depth Chart)

Wolverine and Spartan Fans see Rivalry in a different light

Michigan State to be a "strong" challenge in 2010

Civil War: Michigan vs. Michigan State

Memorable Plays vs. The Spartans