Saturday, September 29, 2007

Game 5 - MSU at Wisconsin

In the biggest conference game of the weekend, MSU (4-0) travels to Wisconsin (4-0) to take on the Badgers.

These two teams have not met since 2004 when MSU waxed 4th-ranked Wisconsin 49-14. Wisconsin came into that game 9-0 while MSU was only 4-5. Overall, Michigan State leads the series 26-19, but Wisconsin has taken seven of the last 10 meetings.

This game will be an old-school smashmouth Big Ten game as both teams will focus on the run, counting on their quarterback to manage the game and not make too many mistakes. P.J. Hill leads the Badger rushing attack with 512 yards and seven TDs on the season so far.

MSU, of course, features Jehuu Caulcrick and Javon Ringer in the backfield.

This is will a big test for the Spartans in a what will be a low scoring affair. Things have gone well so far, but I am not sure if they can handle that atmosphere and running attack.


Wisconsin 24, MSU 20

MSU 31, ND 14

The Spartans kept the streak going and are the only team in history to have won six consecutive games at Notre Dame Stadium. Also, Coach Dantonio has become the only coach in MSU history to begin his coaching career with the Spartans 4-0.

The Big Ten season starts on Saturday at Wisconsin. We'll see how "for real" the Spartans are on that road trip.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Game 4 - MSU at Notre Dame

My oh my, how things have changed. The Spartans are undefeated and are nearly a two-touchdown favorite against the winless Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Let's face it, this is the kind of game that should have MSU fans shaking in their boots. In the past, the Spartans have not handles success very well. Last year, after a 3-0 start, they blew a seemingly insurmountable 19-point fourth quarter lead against the Irish. They then went on to lose six of their next seven games to stay home during bowl season for the third straight year and sent coach John L. Smith packing.

So far, Coach Dantonio has been saying the right things. He has spoken about earning the respect of the fans once again. The team has lost so much respect over recent years that they have yet to sell out a home game in 2007.

MSU, including first-year coaches, has had a tremendous amount of success against Notre Dame. MSU has won seven of the last ten matchups, including five in a row in South Bend. No other team can claim such a streak in that stadium.

Luckily, this year's Notre Dame team is just that bad. They rank dead last in the nation in most offensive categories. Over they games they have yet to score an offensive touchdown. But everyone has heard those numbers in the media this week.

Here is the deal - The Spartans will face some adversity in this game. It is their first road trip of the year against a team desperate not to fall to 0-4 for the first time in their storied history. MSU should be able to run the ball at will and the Spartan defensive line should be able to keep Jimmy Clausen on his back for most of the day. MSU will run for over 200 yards in this game and register at least five sacks.

Prediction: MSU 24, Notre Dame 14.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Week Three - Pitt at MSU

We have a baby on the way, so no analysis, we'll just go with the prediction..

MSU 31, Pitt 24

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Game Two - MSU 28, BGSU 17

Well it wasn't always pretty, but Michigan State got the job done, defeating Bowling Green 28-17 in Spartan Stadium.

The Spartans could not get the running game on track and the passing game had its hits and missed as quarterback Brian Hoyer connected on 17-of-29 passed for 250 yards. Junior wide receiver Devin Thomas broke the 100-yards mark for the second game in a row, catching four passes for 156 yards and a touchdown.

MSU (2-0) rushed for 164 yards in the game, led by Javon Ringers 94 yards on 22 carries. Jehuu Caulcrick totaled 55 yards and scored a touchdown. That touchdown moved Ringer into the all-time MSU rushing TD list.

The thing to take away from this game is that the defense stepped when it needed to, causing a few key turnovers - including one which would have resulted in a touchdown if the officials were not so quick on the whistle.

The defense surrendered 47 yards on the ground and 295 through the air to Bowling Green (1-1). Safety Nehemiah Warrick was injured in the first half, so that will be key going forward.

More analysis when we get to sift through the stats and other events from Saturday.

Halftime - BGSU 14, MSU 14

Thoughts on the first half:

This game should be 28-14, but its not thanks to a terrible call on a BGSU fumble that MSU would have returned for a score if not for an "inadvertent whistle" and a bad interception by Brian Hoyer towards the end of the first half.

For some reason, the MSU running attack is not on track like it should be, only rushing for 59 yards in the half (led by Javon Ringer's 46 yards). The Spartans really need to have the running game fired up to be successful in this game. With the running game, MSU will wear down the smaller Falcons.

As expected the MSU secondary is being tested by the BGSU passing game, led by Tyler Sheehan's 214 yards, one TD and one interception.

Look for the defense to continue to play well and MSU to pound the ball more to wear down Bowling Green.

Week 2 - Bowling Green at MSU

After last week's debacle in Ann Arbor, coaches around the country are warning their teams not to overlook their lesser opponents.

While Bowling Green comes to East Lansing from the Mid-American Conference, they took down Big Ten rival Minnesota in Minnesota last week, 32-31. Let's hope Coach Dantonio has the troops ready for the Falcons, we all know the Spartans have not handled success well in the past.

Things to look for:

- MSU's running game: BGSU gave up 246 rushing yards to the Gophers last week. The running game is the strength of MSU, so look for Jehuu Caulcrick and Javon Ringer to get the ball early and often.

- MSU's secondary: They will be tested againt Bowling Green's air attack, which rang up 412 yards through the air against Minnesota.Look for Nehemiah Warrick and Otis Wiley to step up their game at the safety position while Kendall Davis-Clark and Ross Weaver will have to play big at the corners.

Prediction: MSU 45-17

Friday, September 07, 2007

Fallout from Ann Arbor

As much as it didn't hurt Michigan State fans' feelings that their cousins from down the road in Ann Arbor suffered the biggest upset defeat in college football history last week, one has to admit the game has been a little overblown.

Yes, the loss by Michigan to Appalachian State was the first time a ranked 1A team lost to a 1AA team. And yes, the game really was not as close as the score indicated (Michigan actually had to rally to beat the Mountaineers, after Appy State missed a field goal and dropped a wide-open touchdown).

But to have stories in national papers even into Wednesday and Thursday of this week is a little bit too much. How about we take a look at the games that are going to take place this weekend, not the shocker from last weekend. I can understand papers like the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press covering the fallout, but not national publications.

The biggest joke of this week it the fact that the Associated Press has decided to make 1AA teams eligible for its weekly poll. Really? They do realize that this is the first time a ranked 1A team has lost to a 1AA team, right? I don't think it is common enough for 1AA teams to be considered for a vote in the AP poll. If there is a sportswriter out there who believes Appalachian State deserves one vote in the AP poll, he or she should have his or her credentials revoked immediately.

That said, it was a shocker and as much as MSU fans basked in the Mountaineers glory (because it immediately replaced the Spartans' losses to Central Michigan in 1991 and 1992 as the most embarrassing losses on the state's history), it was a bit of an embarrassment for the Big Ten.

I said before the season started that teams like U-M and OSU should not be playing teams out of Division 1AA. I would be embarrassed if MSU had a team like that on its schedule. Of course it just gets worse when you lose to them.

U-M has some work to do to make this season anything close to a success, but it is up to the rest of the Big Ten to help restore the glory of the conference.

1987 Game 2 - Notre Dame 31, MSU 8

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Michigan State's 1987 Big Ten and Rose Bowl championship season, we will look back at the games of that magical season week by week. This week, we'll take a look at the second game as the Spartans took on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

After taking the season opener against USC in East Lansing, the game on September 19 in South Bend started off on the wrong "foot" and didn't get any better.

As MSU running back Blake Ezor fielded the opening kickoff, his foot hit the back line of the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 Irish lead. The Irish never looked back. After two punt returns for touchdowns by the eventual Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Brown, Notre Dame had a 19-0 first quarter lead. Following another safety and field goal, the Irish took a 24-0 halftime lead.

The Irish barely had the advantage in total yards for the game (252-229) but MSU (1-1) could only gain 21 yards on the ground. Lorenzo White gained a season-low 51 rushing yards, but MSU lost 59 yards on eight Notre Dame sacks.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sunday Morning Quarterback - Week One

MSU 55, UAB 18

By scoring six touchdowns on their first six possessions, the Mark Dantonio era in East Lansing started off on the right foot as MSU (1-0) crushed the undersized and undermanned Blazers from UAB (0-1).

Who said the Spartans needed the wacky John L. Smith offense to score points? MSU put up nearly 600 yards of offense on the day. And talk about balance, MSU totalled 298 yards on the ground and 295 yards through the air. See the full stats and box score here.

Senior captain Jehuu Caulcrick led the effort on the ground with 93 yards on 10 carries and four touchdowns. Brian Hoyer connected on 14 out of 17 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Devin Thomas was the leading receiver with five catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.
The offense was also 6-for-6 in the red zone and the team committed just four penalties, both of which were problems during the last regime. The defense held the Blazers to just 12 yards rushing.
Upcoming Opponents Update
Out of Conference:
(1-0) Bowling Green 32, Minnesota 31
Georgia Tech 33, (0-1) Notre Dame 3
(1-0) Pittsburgh 27, Eastern Michigan
Big Ten:
(1-0) Northwestern 27, Northeastern 0
Appalachian State 34, (0-1) Michigan 32
(1-0) Ohio State 38, Youngstown State 6
(1-0) Penn State 59, Florida International 0
(1-0) Wisconsin 42, Washington State 21
(1-0) Iowa 16, Northern Illinois 3
(1-0) Purdue 52, Toledo 24
(1-0) Indiana 55, Indiana State 7
Bowling Green 32, (0-1) Minnesota 31

Saturday, September 01, 2007

MSU 55, UAB 18

The Spartans rolled in the opener against UAB, 55-18. Led by Jehuu Caulcrick, Javon Ringer and Brian Hoyer, MSU pounced on the Blazers early and often.

Stay tuned on Sunday for analysis and a look ahead to the next game

Fourth Quarter Game Log - UAB at MSU

2:43 – Touchdown UAB. A little too late for the Blazers. MSU leads 48-12

2:48 – Nick Foles in at quarterback with just over 12 minutes to go in the game. Good to get some game experience for the young man.

3:06 – Another UAB field goal. 48-15 with 7:15 left

3:16 – 55-15 MSU with a nice run by the freshman. Time to tune into the U-M/App. State game

Third Quarter Game Log - UAB at MSU

2:11 – Safety for UAB after MSU was pinned back. 45-5 MSU with 11:20 left in the third.

2:19 – Brian Hoyer is back in at quarterback for the third quarter. It will be interesting to see what Dantonio has to say about that.

2:26 – A smile from Dantonio, I think that is the first time he has smiled since he has been the head coach. I think a 45-5 lead will do that for you.

2:27 – Another field goal, this one from 38 yards for a 48-5 lead. Feeling good in East Lansing boys.

UAB at MSU - Second Quarter Log

12:50 – Just saw MSU outgained UAB 227-43 in the first quarter. Nice!

12:51 – TOUCHDOWN MSU! Hoyer airs it out off play action to Devin Thomas for a 44-yard TD with 14:29 left in the second quarter and a 28-0 lead.

1:01 – CAULCRICK AGAIN! 35-0 MSU with 12:36 left in the half. No punts yet, always good. Caulcrick has 93 yards on 10 carries and 4 TDs. Not a bad game thus far.

1:15 – Connor Dixon in at quarterback. I think Hoyer was perfect today.

1:16 – Dixon to the fullback Andrew Hauken for a touchdown. 42-0 MSU with 7:36 left in the first half.

1:23 – UAB on the board with a field goal after a long kick-off return. 42-3 MSU with 7:01 left in the half.

1:27 – We have more and more subs coming. Nice luxury to have to get them som game experience. We all know depth is key as the Big Ten season continues.

1:34 – I am intrigued by what is going on in Ann Arbor. 28-14 Appalachian State. Amazing.

1:35 – Finally a turn over (interception and then fumble). Looking good boys.

1:40 – And a 45-yard field goal as time expires to finish off the half with a 45-3 lead. Things could not be going any better for the Spartans.

UAB at MSU - First Quarter Log

11:58 a.m. – Just watched the tribute at Virginia Tech. People in tears. Pretty awesome to see all the fans with signs thanking other universities for their help and thoughts after the shootings last April.

11:59 – Two brats, some chips and a beer in front of me waiting for the MSU coverage to start. Feels good to have the season starting again, let’s hope we don’t have to give up hope after three games again.

Noon – Here is it. Spartan Stadium looks great as usual. What a great day for kickoff.

12:03 p.m. – Not a good start for the Blazers with the kickoff going out of bounds. Hopefully it is a sign of things to come

12:04 – A pass on first down? Thought we got rid of John L.

12:04 – Caulcrick bruising through the line for 14 yards. I like the way that sounds

12:06 – Ringer looking good so far. Has some power but can still outrun people after that injury

12:07 – TOUCHDOWN MSU! 7-0 lead for the Spartans. With 12:45 left in the quarter Caulcrick takes it in for the score from two yards out. UAB will not be able to hang with MSU’s offensive line. Drive – 6 plays for 65 yards

12:09 – Quick check of the Big Ten Network… I LOVE that I can see all the other Big Ten games. But I thought it was supposed to be in HD. Didn’t appear to be.

12:13 - Defense gives up a third and 14 conversion… Not what we wanted to see

12:19 – Thornhill with a near interception on third down during a 10 play UAB drive. Would have been nice to get the turnover, but the Blazers are held and need to punt. They have one of those crazy punters when they roll out to punt the ball. MSU will block one before the day is through.

12:22 – Another check of the Big Ten Network. U-M and Appalachian State are tied at seven? Seriously?

12:28 – With 4:46 left in the quarter, Caulcrick takes it in for another touchdown and a 14-0 MSU lead. Hoyer showed some arm strength too, with a rifle to Devin Thomas on the previous play. So far so good.

12:36 – Just as I was thinking how nice it is to see a traditional offense with a fullback, the run an end around with Devin Thomas for 22 yards. I like where this is going so far.

12:38 – ANOTHER TOUCHDOWN FOR CAULCRICK! 21-0 MSU with 1:41 left in the first. Nice blocking as the big guy tip-toed down the sideline. He needed five TDs to crack the all-time TD list at MSU and he might get that today. Terry Love, who was in the Dantonio Doghouse for a while took out two players with one block to spring Jehuu down the sideline. Good to see some heart.

12:47 – 21-0 MSU at the end of the first quarter. I am still trying to find out why I don’t have the BTN in HD.

Game Day! UAB at MSU

It is finally here, the dawning of a new era of MSU football - again. Coach Mark Dantonio will lead his Spartans on the field in East Lansing to face the Blazers of the University of Alabama - Birmingham.
Stay tuned for a game blog updated throughout today's contest.

Things to look for:

- Look for MSU to run the ball - a lot - with Javon Ringer and Jehuu Caulcrick. Ringer has the moves and speed to break a long run at any time, while Caulcrick is the bruiser with speed in his own right. UAB is lacking some experience on the defensive line, so the Spartans should be able to run the ball at will.

- UAB will be platooning quarterbacks today. They will be flipping between senior Sam Hunt and sophomore Joseph Webb to lead the passing attach. It could be a good opportunity for the MSU secondary to get some experience playing together befare facing some of the monsters coming up on the schedule.

Prediction: MSU 34, UAB 10