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Friday, October 16, 2015


Can the Spartans beat the Wolverines?

If anyone knows anything about college football it is that any given team on any given field on any given day can beat any other team. There are three story lines to watch in this game.

No. 1. Special teams. In the past six games it has been green Kryptonite for the Spartans. 60 miles to the south, special teams, while not special, have done more than an adequate job. While the missed FGs are unscored points, and the KO return melt-downs are bad, the real story will be field position. If Jake Hartbarger is 100%, the field position edge goes to MSU. HIs leg makes up for a lot of punt return yardage. If Delton Williams is 100% and put on the returns, that, too, could be more than just an equalizer.
Advantage: UM

No. 2. UoM offense versus MSU defense. Coach Harbaugh has put in place a power-run system where multiple RB/TE combinations get into the mix. This creates strength at the point of attack and, so far, has been successful. It is similar to the wishbone (more than the counter trey) in that regard, but the idea of adding strength at the point of attack is not new. The Spartan LBs will watch the film. They will know their assignments. The fun part will be seeing which side executes and if Jake Rudock is forced to throw more often than he should. On the other hand, it is possible that Coach Harbaugh decides to test the "walking wounded" secondary MSU will put on the field. UM has a good receiver or two and if Jake Rudock can put the ball out those kids can catch it. While Coach Harbaugh might want to test the Spartan secondary, he does so by putting his snap caller at risk. Those Spartan Dawgs will get him more than once.

Edge: MSU

No. 3. MSU offense versus UoM "elite" defense. Elite - that's my old lady's corset cover. No! Good, yes. This should be as clear as a button hook in the well water; UM defense has done the job. Versus lesser competition? Yes. Versus mediocre offenses? Yes. Now they will get a chance to test their mettle against a worthy opponent. MSU O-line has not been creating vacuous gaps on every snap. The RB up the middle is not good for three yards and a cloud of dust. There have been some big plays, sure. But the grind it up the middle approach has not worked well. UM has stopped the run versus their slate of opponents. So the middle is a UM lock. The edges? That will be fun to watch. Then there is the passing attack. Cook will steadily get chunks of yards through the air, but without the running attack, UM will have to adjust and it will become a contest of wills.

Edge: Even

By the way, if history tells us anything, there is no such thing as a home field advantage in this rivalry. What should the real point spread be? Ignore Vegas. Trust me. Going into this game, the records, the rankings, everything goes out the window. On any given day......

The real point spread in this game is zero.

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