One thing I have always wanted to see in my lifetime is a season where Michigan State football is REALLY good. Not 1999’s 10-2, Citrus Bowl winning good, but actually a player on the national scene. Like they are in basketball. I also haven’t fulfilled my lifetime dream of singing a duet with a Muppet, but that’s another story.
Biggie “somehow your words just hypnotize me” Munn and Duffy Daugherty coached the East Lansing school to five national titles during a 15 year span (1951-1966). So they have history. Especially that 1966 team with their “KILL BUBBA KILL” chant, glorifying all-world defensive lineman Bubba Smith; probably the most iconic player in Spartan football history.
And this Saturday, State will play in the de facto 2010 Big Ten Championship game. Because if they win at Iowa, the undefeated season is there for the taking. Sure, they could get caught napping at home versus Purdue in a couple weeks, but it’s not likely. Basically, win and they’re eventually in. Time for MSU to “Push it to the limit. Limit!”
With the mess of the BCS b.s. on top of them, #5 Michigan State gets to the title game by running the table.
Michigan State synopsis: Head Coach Mark Dantonio, who returned to the sidelines last week with a newly found sense of comedic styling and timing, is this team’s star.
However, this match-up features two great defensive lines. As good as the DLs are at Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin and Illinois, I think these two teams have the best units in the conference. State had 8 sacks of Dan Persa last week and “he’s quite wily, keeps escaping (meant to be said in Dr. Evil voice)” Against a more straight-drop and stand-up passer, Jerel Worthy, Tyler Hoover and company would have had 12 or 13 sacks. They bring more pressure than a Glengary salesman and that’s a big reason that MSU is 18th in pass efficiency defense (108.28), despite having a mediocre at best secondary.
Iowa Synopsis:Vegas has the Hawkeyes as a 6.5 point favorite even though they’re ranked 13 spots lower than the Spartans. I guess they believe the Hawkeyes are going to have a huge chip on their shoulder this week after adding “utilize terrible clock management to blow a key game that derails your high expectations season” to their bucket list.
On the offensive side, QB Ricky Stanzi is second (174.88) and MSU QB Kirk Cousins is 12th (161.7) in the nation in passer rating. Both were named to the 16 deep Davey O’Brien Award semifinal list; honoring the nation’s top collegiate quarterback. Here are some stats to show you how close this game really is:
Iowa is fifth nationally in turnover margin (+1.29) and Michigan State is ninth (+1.13).
Iowa ranks 11th in scoring defense (15.7) and Michigan State is 18th (17.9).
Iowa is third in passing efficiency (172.93) and Michigan State is 11th (162.89)
Iowa ranks 18th in kickoff returns (25.0) and Michigan State is 14th in punt returns (14.5). In the Big Ten, MSU is first in punt returns and Iowa is second.
Iowa also ranks eighth in rushing defense (92.1) and 13th in total defense (297.1)
Guys you’ll see Saturday eventually playing on Sundays:
For State, Greg Jones could be the first inside linebacker taken next April. Of course, no one knows these days where ILBs will go in the NFL. I also like the potential of WRs Mark Dell and both the tailbacks. Maybe. Defensive Tackle Jerel Worthy could be a top 5 pick in 2012.
Iowa- I’ve seen scouts high on Stanzi. DE Adrian Clayborn should be a top 5-10 pick. DT Karl Klug could be a mid round pick, likewise for lineman Cristian Ballard, safeties Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood. Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and yes even the punter Ryan Donahue look NFL quality as well. Iowa running backs always seem to end up at the next level so Adam Robinson should be no exception.
Prediction to be taken with a grain of salt (actually make that a whole truckload of salt):
Iowa 21, MSU 19 (Banks’ 2010 record 11-3)
I predicted Michigan State would be the Big Ten sleeper team back in the preseason. Last weekend, I predicted State would beat Northwestern 28-27, and with less than a minute to play that prediction was exactly true to the number (before Edwin Baker inexplicably scored an unnecessary touchdown). Therefore, I need to go with my gut here again. Actually I lost my gut, a casualty of my 2010 weight loss partially inspired by my failed engagement (hey, if you’re going back on the market why not do it with less 35 pounds!) so I’ll just have to go with my head.
The heads brings up how Iowa has not lost at home to MSU since 1989, and they’ve taken three out of the last four in the series.
Remember the movie “American Pie,” the high school state choir competition taking place at MSU?
“Do you believe in magic?..scooby dooby do bah.” Actually I don’t.
I believe Iowa will be really angry at themselves for blowing it last week at home versus Wisconsin. I believe they won’t let it happen again, and I believe State is going to have a lot of trouble running against that ferocious Iowa front. Sorry Spartans, magical season or not, I guess no one from the Big Ten is playing for a national title this year.
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