Scouting Report and Prediction: MSU vs. the Michigan Wolverines

A look at this week’s opponent…

The Wolverines are once again undefeated.  They are among the nations top ten according to the rankings and they are playing better in year one of Brady Hoke then they have in years.  This is not the Wolverines of the last three years.

When MSU has the ball…

The wind will be key in this game.  The Spartans want to run and with the weapons they have it will be no problem to use the short range passing game.  A mixture of TEs and WRs across the middle and more should be just fine for the Spartan passing statistics.

The Spartans will run the ball, but this could be perhaps their most balanced attack yet, of the season.  Look for the best running attack of the season as the Spartans use that commitment to run with the short range passes to keep the Wolverines off balance.  UM is going to bring heat on every play to either suffocate the run or put heat on Cousins.  They will dare Cousins to beat them.

Look for the rare times that MSU does go deep, to do it when the wind settles briefly and they audible to it.  Although I do not expect the offense to be sexy, I anticipate it to be controlling.  Yards and stats may not reflect it, but after Saturday the Spartan Nation should be very pleased with the performance of the Spartans.  Don’t miss a down as you could see some new wrinkles in the playbook as a gift to our guests from Ann Arbor.

MSU offense can’t cost the green and white the game.  A punt is fine.  Throwing a pass away is O.K.  They simply give momentum errors to the Wolverines.

When MSU is on defense…

The Spartans are praying for Dennard Robinson to throw the ball.  With the wind that won’t be easy, but they have already demonstrated they can contain him.  I don’t look for a lot of blitzing.  They will, but it won’t be an every play event.  They will contain Robinson (as much as you can) and when he goes to the air punish him.  The key to Robinson is that you can’t allow him to turn broken plays into big plays.

If Robinson has to throw, he has not seen the defense the Spartans have.  MSU should follow that old military adage, “He that controls the air wins the war.”  If UM has to throw, that is game, set match to MSU.  With the wind they may not want to, they may have to.

Intangibles…

This is a rivalry game.  You throw out the records.  This game is about heart.  Unlike the past several years the Wolverines have a very good coaching staff that makes great adjustments.

No matter the score this will be settled in the second half.  Every play, every series, every second counts.  This comes down to talent and heart.  Both teams have heart.  Both teams are well coached.  MSU has more talent.

Prediction… 

Brady Hoke will no doubt bring Michigan back.  He is a good coach and person.  Dennard Robinson is a true gentleman who I wish wore the green and white.  This is a civil war and this is bedlam.

This is Mike Hart’s comments and Jerel Worthy’s tattoo.  It is the family reunions divided by green and blue and the comments of former players on both sides that make this what it is.  It is Mark Dantonio’s rebuttal of the little brother comments and the UM radio call of the 2001 calling their loss, “Criminal.”  How many reasons do you need to be jacked up?

This game will be a heavyweight fight no matter the score, but the more talented Spartans are frustrated and they are going to take it out on the Wolverines.  I expect a brutal hitting game.  The pads will pop.  There will be guys from both sides playing their guts out.  This one should go down for the ages.

So much emotion for both teams only sets this up as a epic contest. Both want it badly.  Hide the women and children folks because there is going to a battle at the High Cathedral of the Spartan Nation on Saturday.  I fully expect one of the most physical games of the series and the out come could very well hinge on in game injuries.

Make it MSU 24 and the Michigan 10.  Both teams will walk off the field, both team’s fans will turn off the TV or leave the stadium with a new found respect of the other and the nation will see that this rivalry is back.  When this is done remember this one thing:  only 12 months and five days until they tee it up in Ann Arbor.