6 Total Updates since October 11, 2011
over 1 year ago Commentary 0 commentsContinue
over 1 year ago Update 0 comments
After a shaky first half in which neither team looked sharp offensively, Michigan State asserted itself over Michigan in the second 30 minutes of play and emerged with a 28-14 victory on Saturday.
Denard Robinson came nowhere close to putting on a show at Spartan Stadium as the Spartans’ defense persistently pursued him behind the line of scrimmage. There wasn’t room to run and there wasn’t time to throw as Michigan State defensive lineman, along with blitzing linebackers and defensive backs, were constantly in his face.
Robinson put up his worst numbers of the season. On the ground, he rushed 41 yards on 18 carries. But Michigan’s quarterback truly struggled in the passing game, completing only 9-of-24 passes for 135 yards and one interception.
The interception was a backbreaker too, as Michigan had closed the margin to 21-14 following a 34-yard touchdown pass to Roy Roundtree. But with 4:30 to go in the fourth quarter, safety Isaiah Lewis picked Robinson off and returned the ball 39 yards for a touchdown that all but ended the game.
Prior to that, Michigan State was dominating the game with its running game. The Spartans’ offensive line got a good push off the ball on almost every play, opening up big holes for Edwin Baker to run through. The junior tailback had his best game of the season, rushing 26 times for 167 yards and a touchdown. His numbers would’ve looked even better, if not for a third quarter fumble after a 21-yard run that might have gone on for a touchdown.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins also rebounded from a sloppy second half, hurt by windy conditions and drops by his receivers. He threw two touchdown passes to Keshawn Martin in the second half, with Martin taking short passes and running them into the end zone, reaching just around the pylon as he was being pushed out of bounds.
Both scores essentially bookended the third quarter. The first touchdown went for 10 yards, finishing off Michigan State’s first drive. The second score came toward the end, after MSU’s defense forced a three-and-out.
Unfortunately, an impressive defensive effort for the Spartans might be overshadowed by some late hits and personal fouls late in the game. Particularly troublesome was William Gholston’s late hit on Robinson after the whistle had blown. Gholston didn’t come in late with the hit, but after Robinson had already gotten rid of the ball, the MSU defensive end threw him to the ground while also twisting Robinson’s helmet around.
Some Michigan fans will point to that play, along with other late hits by players like Marcus Rush and Jerel Worthy, and call the Spartans dirty. But two or three players shouldn’t obscure what was an excellent defensive showing. It will be interesting to see if the Michigan State defense can control or rattle Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson like they did with Robinson.
Meanwhile, Michigan is left again with concerns about Robinson’s ability as a passer. After showing promise the past two weeks, Robinson has reverted back into poor mechanics and decision-making in the passing game. But perhaps MSU’s defense deserves the majority of credit for that. How he rebounds against lesser competition will be worth watching.
With the victory, Michigan State becomes the lone undefeated team in the Big Ten’s Legends division. The win over Michigan is also the Spartans’ fourth consecutive victory over their in-state rivals. It’s hard to believe in this rivalry that one Spartans class will have never lost to Michigan. But things have obviously changed in the state over the past four years.
Michigan State hosts No. 4 Wisconsin next Saturday at Spartan Stadium in an 8 p.m. ET kickoff. Michigan plays at home for the first time in three weeks, hosting Purdue.
over 1 year ago Update 0 comments
Michigan State has flexed its muscle in the third quarter, continuing its dominance with the offensive line and giving Kirk Cousins excellent protection, as the Spartans scored twice to take a 21-7 lead over Michigan.
Cousins and receiver Keshawn Martin hooked up twice on scoring plays, with Martin taking short passes and running them in, reaching just around the pylon as he was being pushed out of bounds. The first touchdown went for 10 yards, finishing off Michigan State’s first drive of the third quarter. The second score essentially ended the quarter, after the Spartans defense forced a three-and-out with relentless pressure on Denard Robinson.
Michigan State may have had yet another touchdown on their second possession of the third quarter, but was thwarted by a turnover. Edwin Baker broke free for a 21-yard run and may have been on his way to a touchdown with only one defender (who was ready to be blocked) in his path. But Baker looked to have dropped the ball and Michigan recovered.
In perhaps the most important development of the third quarter, the Wolverines couldn’t capitalize on Baker’s fumble. The Spartans got excellent pressure on Robinson, giving him no room to run nor time to pass, ultimately forcing Michigan to punt. Not getting at least a field goal when they were given the ball in Spartans territory was a crucial missed opportunity for the Wolverines. Michigan State got the ball back and scored its second touchdown of the quarter.
Perhaps in an attempt to give Michigan State’s defense a different look, Michigan has played Devin Gardner more since falling behind 21-7. However, it’s difficult to imagine the Wolverines generating much offense against a Spartans defense that looks to be getting stronger. Not with Robinson throwing the ball so poorly, anyway.
over 1 year ago Update 0 comments
The wind has helped create some sloppy football in East Lansing, as Michigan State and Michigan are tied 7-7 at halftime.
Maybe the crowd at Spartan Stadium could break into singing some Donovan during the halftime break. Can the MSU marching band play “Catch the Wind” for the fans to sing along to?
For me to love you now,
Would be the sweetest thing, ’twould make me sing,
Ah, but I may as well, try and catch the wind.
Spartans and Wolverines fans surely want to love their team’s effort in the first half, but the offenses are not making it easy. (I’m not sure either school’s special shoe company-mandated uniforms are getting much love, either.) Both sides have to hope for some crisper football when play resumes in the second half.
Penalties were a major problem for Michigan State, with the home team committing eight infractions for 67 yards. Two penalties by defensive tackle Jerel Worthy were particularly troubling, each giving Michigan first downs when the Wolverines’ offense looked to be stalling.
Drops have also been an issue for the Spartans’ offense, killing some good offensive drives and preventing quarterback Kirk Cousins from getting into a rhythm. The senior QB has completed 8-of-13 passes for just 62 yards in the first half. If B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin hold onto to a deep or mid-range throw here or there, Cousins’ numbers look a lot better. And Michigan State would probably have some more points on the board.
Can Denard Robinson blame the wind for his terrible passing numbers in the first half? The conditions probably aren’t helping his long passes, but Robinson has looked bad on several of his throws. The Spartans’ pass rush has contributed to that, hurrying him on a few plays. But Robinson has also regressed to some poor throwing mechanics. In the first half, Michigan’s quarterback is 3-of-11 passing for 39 yards.
The Wolverines have been able to move the ball on the ground, with Robinson rushing for 42 yards on seven carries. Vincent Smith has also provided a nice complement from the tailback position with 33 yards on six rushes. But Michigan State has been able to prevent Robinson from breaking off a signature long run. Will Al Borges call more running plays exclusively for Robinson in the second half? He might have to, whether he wants to or not.
The Spartans seem to have the clear advantage with their running game. Michigan State’s offensive line is overpowering Michigan’s front four thus far, pushing them off the ball and opening big holes for Edwin Baker. The junior running back has 71 yards in the first half on 11 carries. If not for MSU trying to put together a more balanced attack, Baker might have even better numbers.
Given the effect the wind has had on the passing game and the offensive line’s dominance on the line of scrimmage, the Spartans might go to the run far more often in the second half.
Michigan State gets the ball to begin the third quarter.
over 1 year ago Update 0 comments
Offense was the story in the first quarter between Michigan State and Michigan, with both teams scoring early touchdowns. The Spartans may be beginning to assert themselves defensively, however.
Michigan got on the board first, scoring on a 15-yard scramble by Denard Robinson. Initially, it looked as if the Michigan State pass rush was about to sack him, but Robinson eluded the pressure and ran to the left side. Plenty of blockers were in front of him and he ran just inside the pylon for a touchdown.
The drive was extended by a fake field goal from Michigan on 4th-and-3 from the MSU 22. Drew Dileo got just enough on a 3-yard run, with the measurement giving the Wolverines the first down by the nose of the football.
The Spartans eventually answered on a strong drive, with the offensive line blowing open huge holes for Edwin Baker to run through. Baker carried five times for 49 yards on the drive, scoring on a one-yard touchdown run.
Kirk Cousins has been victimized by a few costly drops. He hit B.J. Cunningham streaking past Troy Woolfolk down the right sideline, but Cunningham dropped the ball steps from the end zone. Keshawn Martin also dropped a sure first down catch on the Spartans’ next drive after their touchdown. For the game, Cousins is 3-of-6 passing for 16 yards.
over 1 year ago Update 0 comments
(Sports Network) - State bragging rights and an all-important Big Ten Conference victory will be on the line this weekend in East Lansing, as the 22nd-ranked Michigan State Spartans host their bitter rivals, the 11th-ranked Michigan Wolverines.
Five of Michigan's six games thus far have taken place at home, and the club has clearly taken advantage of that fortuitous schedule. The Wolverines are off to a 6-0 start under first-year head coach Brady Hoke, and all but one of the victories have come by double figures. Last weekend, the club knocked off Northwestern by a 42-24 final on the road, scoring 28 unanswered points to fight back from an early deficit.
"Guys always stay together," said wideout Roy Roundtree, discussing the mood after halftime. "Coach always says, 'Stay together as a team,' and we just went out there with energy. We never let down; we just went out there and played football."
As for Michigan State, it has won four of its five games to date, as the lone loss came against Notre Dame back in mid-September. The most recent victory was tremendously enjoyable for Spartan fans, as the club found a way to beat Ohio State in Columbus by a 10-7 final. Head coach Mark Dantonio has been rewarded for his efforts with a contract extension, as he has brought some much-needed stability to the program.
"This new contract expresses the loyalty that I have to our current student- athletes and their families and sends a clear message to the current and future recruits that I will be their head coach at Michigan State," Dantonio said. "It also lets Spartan Nation know that I deeply appreciate their loyal support and that I'm here for the long haul."
Michigan owns a 67-31-5 series advantage over Michigan State, but the Spartans cruised to a 34-17 victory over the Wolverines last season.
Through six outings, Michigan is generating 38.0 ppg and 457.5 total ypg. The Wolverines have notched 28 offensive touchdowns already, 17 of which have come from a ground attack that accounts for 257 ypg at a clip of 6.3 ypc. The leader of the offense is Denard Robinson, the top dual-threat quarterback in college football for a second consecutive year. Robinson has passed for 1,130 yards and 10 scores while rushing for 720 yards and eight touchdowns. His completion percentage is a bit low (.573) and he has thrown nine interceptions, however, so there is still room for improvement.
As good as the Michigan offense has been, it can be argued that the defense has been even better. The Wolverines are holding foes to 12.5 ppg and 336.5 total ypg, having allowed a mere nine touchdowns to opposing offenses in 24 quarters of football. They have notched more interceptions (five) than touchdown passes allowed (four) and have 11 sacks to date. Kenny Demens leads Michigan with 45 total tackles, and Jordan Kovacs has three sacks.
In the win over Northwestern last weekend, Robinson threw three first-half interceptions, but he continued to fight and finished the game with a pair of passing scores and two rushing touchdowns as well. Michigan compiled 541 total yards in the affair, and Robinson was responsible for 454 of those.
"He made some great throws, he's a tremendous football player," said Hoke of Robinson. "The kid's a competitor and he loves to play, he loves his teammates, and that's what Michigan football is all about."
Give the Michigan defense a ton of credit for pitching a shutout in the second half after yielding three scores in the opening half.
Switching focus to Michigan State, it is generating 28.0 ppg this season while gaining 398.0 total ypg. While those numbers don't rival the output of the Wolverines to this point, the Spartans have taken better care of the football than their counterpart. Kirk Cousins is a solid signal caller who has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 1,197 yards and six TDs against four INTs. B.J. Cunningham is clearly the top option in the passing game, as he has hauled in 38 receptions for 582 yards and two scores. Le'Veon Bell has rushed for six touchdowns, pacing a collection of capable backs.
Clearly, the Spartan offense is outshined by a stellar defensive unit that has permitted only six touchdowns in five outings. Michigan State is dominant against the run, giving up only 64.0 ypg at a clip of 2.2 yards per carry. The Spartans have permitted quarterbacks to complete fewer than half of their passes and have notched seven interceptions to go along with three fumble recoveries. Max Bullough has 33 total tackles to his credit to lead the team.
It has been two weeks since the win over Ohio State, so Michigan State figures to be well rested. In that game against the Buckeyes, the Spartans posted a passable total of 321 total yards, but they got into the end zone just once on a connection between Cousins and Cunningham. The running game clearly struggled, accounting for just 71 yards on 31 attempts.
Give the MSU defense a ton of credit for holding Ohio State to seven points in its own stadium. The Spartans nearly pitched a shutout, as the Buckeyes' lone score came with 10 seconds remaining in the game. Only 178 yards were surrendered in the tilt.
In a game that figures to go down to the wire, give a narrow edge to the Wolverines based solely on the ability of Robinson. He is a far more dynamic player than Cousins.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan 24, Michigan State 20