Michigan State Preview

Who: Michigan vs Michigan State
When: October 25, 2008, 3:30 PM
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
: ABC-Regional/ESPN 2
: Michigan Sports Network
UM Leads 68-28-5
Last Meeting: Michigan - 28, Michigan State - 24
Rankings: Michigan - NR, Penn State - NR

Program Background

Conference: Big Ten Conference
Head Coach: Mark Dantonio
Off. Coordinator: Don Treadwell
Def. Coordinator: Pat Narduzzi
2008 Record: 6-2 (3-1)
Last Game: Lost to tOSU 45-7

If Michigan needed a blueprint on how to beat Michigan State, look no further than last week's game against tOSU. Actually, just the first half will do fine. By the time Sparty had time to figure out what was going on, it was 28-0. I've watched tOSU all year and they had never looked better than against the Michigan Agricultural College.

It's usually about this time every year that Sparty takes off the rose colored glasses after a great start, and slips into the depths of struggling mediocrity that they are used to. A great start to the season, followed by a heartbreaking loss to usually Michigan or tOSU, and they never recover.

Now, that said, this year could be different. Dantonio could have this team believing that they can still contend. And let's be honest, if Sparty was going to knock off the Wolverines, this year is a good year to do it. They have the players to do it...they usually do. It just comes down to mental toughness and confidence...something that has been lacking in East Lansing in recent years. In other words, there is a reason they have been referred to as "little brother".

Howeva, we're a stat kind of blog, therefore we will take a look at Michigan State from a statistical perspective.

Javon Ringer is a great running back, and it shows. He leads the Big Ten in yards, carries, and TDs. But, it should be noted that Sparty ranks 7th in the Big Ten in rushing offense. Translation: Michigan State only goes as far as Ringer will take them. Evidence? He had 67 yards on 16 carries and no TDs against tOSU last week. And, in their loss to Cal in week 1, Ringer went for only 81 yards on 27 carries.

Stop Ringer...stop Sparty.

Passing is not a strong suit for Michigan State. They rank 8th in the Big Ten in passing offense. Although Hoyer is a relatively decent passer, he's no Juice Williams or Daryll Clark. Hoyer boasts a QB rating of 117, just 10 points higher than that of Michigan's Steven Threet at 107.

Its kind of a statistical anomaly that Michigan State, tOSU and Michigan are 9-10-11 at the bottom the Big Ten in terms of total offensive output so far this year.

In terms of defense, MSU gives up an average of 20.3 ppg. Right in the middle of the Big Ten at 6th. Run, pass and total defense are all middle of the pack. But one stat I think speaks volumes is time of possession. MSU ranks third in the Big Ten with a 31:37 per game average. Michigan, by comparison, is ranked last in the conference with 26:55 per game. Actually...nationally, Michigan ranks 116 out of 120 in the time of possession category. But, Missouri is ranked 119...so go figure?!

Michigan State does have one of the best defensive backs in the conference in Otis Wiley. The senior DB has 4 picks for 84 yards and one pick 6.

Their leader at linebacker is Greg Jones. He has 65 tackles this season, 38 solo and 8 for loss. Michigan State's sack leader is DL Trevor Anderson, who has 5 sacks this year.

Injury-wise, Michigan is not looking too bad. Last week saw the return of Brandon Minor (who looked good), and defensive players Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren. All 3 will be back this week, and word is QB Steven Threet, with two bum elbows, will start again. No major injuries to speak of this week. The line is looking stable and the defense should see all starters this week.

But what cannot be accounted for in stats or personnel, is the intangibles. This is an in-state rivalry game. Little brother versus big brother. Both of us got blown out last week by superior opponents. Michigan must win to stay bowl eligible. Sparty must win to save some face and make this rivalry worth something. Either way, it will be a good game, and I predict a Michigan win. I don't know why, but just something about playing little brother at home that gives me nice winning feeling.

And to whet you appetite for Saturday's game, lets have a look at some past UM-MSU games, via WolverineHistorian. We'll go all the way back to 2002, the beginning of the current streak of domination over Sparty.

2007, Michigan 28, MSU 24

2006, Michigan 31, MSU 13

2005, Michigan 34, MSU 31

EPIC!!!!! 2004, Michigan 45, MSU 37

2003, Michigan 27, MSU 20

2002, Michigan 49, MSU 3

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