As is our custom on this blog, I encourage the listening of this while you read. Enjoy.
Hate Week. Its finally here. Well, the intrastate Hate Week is finally here (Interstate Hate Week is always in November). Instead of a dual breakdown of both teams, both are doing me a favor by playing each other and delaying the onset of my carpal tunnel.
Let’s start with the visitors: Michigan State. Last Saturday, they squared off with the Iowa Hawkeyes in a poorly played game by the Spartans at Spartan Stadium. The Hawkeyes limped into East Lansing with a 3-2 record but would end up leaving with a 4-2 record. Spartan quarterback Andrew Maxwell struggled and didn’t throw a touchdown pass the entire game. The defensive stalemate, called last week by my colleague Reis Thebault, was complete but the Hawkeyes ended up pulling this one out in overtime, 19-16.
As for this week’s home team, things were much different as Michigan looked to build up its confidence against a weak conference opponent, the Fighting Illini of Illinois. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson led a dual threat attack against Illinois that amounted to a 17-0 lead at halftime. However, the second half was the better half for Michigan’s offense as they added 28 points to the lead. The Wolverine defense, being led by sophomore linebacker Jake Ryan, showcased how well they really can play and Michigan cruised to a 45-0 victory.
As for this week’s matchup, the Spartans enter Ann Arbor looking to extend their winning streak to a school record, five consecutive years over the Wolverines. On paper, it doesn’t look good for the Spartans who struggle finding offensive weapons beyond junior running back Le’Veon Bell and junior tight end Dion Sims. Maxwell has struggled and has almost as many touchdowns (6) as interceptions (4). Michigan, on the other hand, is playing into the Spartans weakness by showing a new found strength: Jake Ryan and the defense. If Ryan has another game like last week, it will be tough for the Spartans to score. Switch sides and it looks more grim. Michigan’s offense, namely Robinson, has the ability to go off on the ground. Can the Spartan defense slow down Robinson and the offense in an environment they have thrived in?
MICHIGAN STATE: 20
As much as I stressed the above points, keep in mind that what I discussed is how the teams look on paper. In a rivalry as intense as this one, anything and I mean, ANYTHING can happen. I’m sure Spartan fans will not hesitate that they didn’t foresee Drew Stanton getting hurt and Braylon Edwards turning into a folk hero back in 2004. With that in mind, I’m gonna say that the Spartan defense DOES live up to the task of slowing down Robinson and keep the team in the game, despite offensive struggles by Maxwell. In fact, some of Michigan’s offense comes off a Jake Ryan fumble recovery in the second quarter. Michigan State ties the game at the end of regulation and receives the ball on the coin toss. Ryan once again shines and State is stopped. Dan Conroy misses a 41-yard field goal and Michigan takes over. Stopped on third down, Brady Hoke opts to let Brendan Gibbons win the game and he does. 23-20 Final.
I know I’m gonna get a lot of flack for picking Michigan but I think the buck will finally stop here after a 4 year winless drought against MSU. Believe me, I picked the Spartans to wipe the floor with Michigan after Week 2 but MSU has failed to live up to expectations, worse than Michigan has. This is a crucial game for both squads but I think this is going to be one of Dantonio’s down years.
I hope I didn’t upset too many people but in the spirit of competition: Go Blue and Go Green! It should be an excellent contest between two excellent institutions. I think this game should be a reminder to the people of Michigan of how lucky we truly are to have one another, despite the rivalry. Another date on the calendar, another road trip to EL or A2, another chapter in our state’s collegiate football history.