Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Game: MSU at Michigan

Okay.. Things have been quiet this week, despite it being Michigan/Michigan State week.. MSU got waxed by Ohio State at home last week, while Michigan looked good for a half at Penn State before getting crushed.

So which of these teams will show up? The U-M team that lost to Toledo? Or the one who was playing well against Penn State? Can MSU shake off what happened last week to battle against their arch rivals?

Depsite Michigan's poor record, MSU will need an all-around great effor to beat Michigan in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1990. They will need Ringer and Hoyer to play well, as well as get some turnovers on defense.

If there is a year for it to happen, THIS is the year.

MSU 24, U-M 14

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Game 8 Prediction: OSU at MSU

Okay.. This is going to be ugly.. Both offenses will want to run the ball and then run it some more.. So this game will be won by the quarterbacks of both teams.. Can Brian Hoyer make enough plays for MSU? Can the freshman Terelle Pryor handle another tough road environment? With OSU play senior QB Todd Boekman?

Hoyer has shown he can make the plays.. Pryors stats have gone down in recent games..

MSU wins this one in old-chool Big Ten style: 20-17

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Biggest Game Since Last Week

Here it is.. The biggest game of the year since last week when MSU battled undefeated Northwestern.

If MSU wins this brawl against the Buckeyes, they are in the driver's seat for a 10-win season, a New Years Day bowl and possibly the Rose Bowl. Sure, sure that sounds like crazy talk, but a win vs. OSU puts them in a spot to defeat Michigan and Purdue and possibly Wisconsin. If Penn State is a good as everyone thinks they are, they could be in line for the National Championship game, putting MSU in the Rose Bowl.

Just saying...

Stay tuned for the prediction tomorrow..

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Game 7 - MSU at Northwestern

This is a game which can make or break the season for the Spartans. They have not handled Northwestern very well over the last few years, including last year's home loss to the Wildcats in overtime.

The good news for the Spartans is that the road team has won the last three games in this series, including MSU's record-setting comeback victory in 2006 under the "legendary" John L. Smith.

MSU needs their secondary back healthy to defend the spread attack of the Wildcats. CJ Bacher will throw the ball all over the field, but will also dish the ball to Sutton on the ground.

However, Northwestern had a tough time with Iowa's running attack two weeks ago, so get ready for Ringer, Ringer and then some more Ringer.

MSU 28, Northwestern 27

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Prediction: Iowa at MSU

Old school Big Ten game between the two top rushers in the conference. 24-21 MSU

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Prediction: MSU at Indiana

Michigan State has had experience with mobile quarterback from Indiana. Does the name Antwaan Randle-El ring a bell with anyone? Never thought he'd stop running against MSU.

Kellen Lewis has already superseded Randle-El's career stats in rushing, passing, completions, touchdowns, etc.

MSU is also coming off a nice win last week and as all Spartan fans know, the team has not always handles success well. But THAT is the difference with a Dantonio coached team. They could have folded the tent last year after blowing the game to Michigan, but they didn't. I don't think they will let the Notre Dame game get to their heads either.

MSU 34-17

Friday, September 26, 2008

Game Notes: Indiana

As usual, here's everything you need to know about MSU vs. Indiana - click here

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Game 4: MSU 23, Notre Dame 7

Sorry I didn't get a prediction in on time. I went up to East Lansing and as we all know, that requires an early start.

This one was not fancy. It was not a beautiful game by any means. It was very much a methodical dismantling of the Irish. They were going to see Ringer, then they were going to see Ringer and then they were going to see Ringer some more.

201 yards against the Irish for his second 200-yard game in a row. That will get the Spartans some wins.

But the thing that was most impressive in this game was the defense. They got to Jimmy Clausen for the first time all year (neither San Diego State nor Michigan had any sacks against the Irish). Otis Wiley (quickly becoming my favorite player not named Ringer) was all over the field, including some picks and near picks.

If the defense plays like that for the rest of the year, this team will be in position to win games. Plenty of them.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Izzo an MSU lifer

For those who can't wait for basketball season - here is a must read from Eric Lacy in today's Detroit News. Comments like this from Izzo have to excite every Spartan fan.

Check out there story here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Game 3: MSU 17, Florida Atlantic 0

So, the weather may have been a factor (and I should have taken that into account when I made my 35-17 prediction), but a win is a win - especially against a team which some outsiders said could have been scary for MSU (ala Louisiana Tech from a few years ago).

That said, Javon Ringer was put on display - since neither quarterback could throw the ball - and racked up 284 rushing yards against the Owls, which is the 4th most for a single game in Michigan State history.

Some have questioned why Ringer was still in the game with four minutes remaining with a 17-0 lead. Dantonio's answer was that he didn't think it was fair (or wise) to ask a rookie running back to get in the game and try to get used to a wet ball, when a turnover could make the game a heck of a lot tighter than it was.

Now the fun part of the season begins - Notre Dame and then the Big Ten. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Prediction: MSU vs. Florida Atlantic

Quick prediction: MSU 35, Florida Atlantic 17

Friday, September 12, 2008

Here come the Owls

So there are not many people out there who know anything about Florida Atlantic University. Do some pre-game reading of the game notes. More analysis and a prediction are on their way!

Game Two: MSU 42, EMU 10

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.. Somehow I predicted the score exactly right for this game.

As expected the Spartans were fully intent on running the ball, which lead to Javon Ringer's five touchdowns, just one shy of Blake Ezor's single-game record.

Check out the stats, quotes and game notes here.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Prediction: Game Two: Eastern Michigan at MSU

Sorry, I have been traveling this week and have not had too much time to blog or even catch up on this week's game. However, here are some thoughts for you. And as always, the game notes for this week's game are available here.

The Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-0) are on a winning streak - well at least a streak as far as Eastern is concerned. They've won two games in a row, going back to the win over Central in the final game of last season to last week's 52-0 pasting of Indiana State.

That ends this week however. We don't know too much about the Eagles, but the Spartans have never lost to the Eagles and will come out swinging to get the bad taste from last week's game against Cal out of their mouth.

EMU has 13 returning starters, including their quarterback. They also run a spread offense which can give defensive teams grief (see Utah or Appalachian State against Michigan0>

MSU will work on a few things from last week.

I would not have wanted to be an offensive lineman for the Spartans at practice this week. You can be sure the coaching staff laid into them about their performance both in run blocking and pass protection. I think MSU will recommit to the run to get Javon Ringer off early and often. There is no way Brian Hoyer should throw the ball as much as he did last week, so opening of the running game more this week will take some of the pressure of him.

I think Ringer goes for 100+ and Hoyer throws for another 200+ today in the home opener.

MSU takes down the Eagles 42-10 to get their first win of the year.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Game One thoughts

Okay, as you know, I expected MSU to lose that game against Cal. It is just a tough thing to ask a team to do - fly to the West Coast and play a quality team in the opener (just ask Tennessee which lost to UCLA over the weekend as well!).

What I didn't expect is to have MSU leave so many points on the field. The Spartans had at least three touchdowns called back - Mark Dell's catch which was reviewed and overturned, BJ Cunningham's offensive pass interference on MSU's first drive and the Javon Ringer run in the second half. Too many times the Spartans had a chance to take the lead but they shot themselves in the foot.

So there are some things to take away from this game...

On the positive side - MSU put up some points, even without a steady running game; they kept fighting back when pre-Dantonio teams would have folded up their tents in the first quarter; and Mark Dell looks like he could be the replacement for Devin Thomas.

On the negative - Brian Hoyer did not look good at all, but how much was on him and how much was on the young receiver is unknown; the offensive line needs some work, MSU needs to run the ball to be successful and Hoyer cannot be forced to throw the ball that much; and the defense needs some work, there were a few nice plays (Otis Wiley's two interceptions) but Cal got yards in big chunks in the second half.

I think MSU is a better team for having played this game and they'll be better prepared for hostile Big Ten environments. Let's face it, Cal is a better team than MSU right now. Behind USC, they might just be the second best team in the Pac-10 and MSU had some chances to take them out.

The schedule is light for the next six weeks and MSU will be favored in all of them, so the Cal game is certainly not the end of the season.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Game One: Cal 38, MSU 31

Okay, I'll be honest, I had a family commitment last night, so I couldn't watch the game live, but have no fear, I have it taped.

In the meantime, here are the press release, final stats, post-game quotes, and post-game notes from yesterday's game.

There is also a podcast of Coach Dantonio's post-game press conference here.

Now I am going to watch the game, so more analysis later.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Prediction: Game 1 - MSU at Cal

For the first game of the season, MSU and its young players have to handle several different things right out of the chute. They need to play the game, they have to play it on the road and they have to handle traveling to the West Coast.

This is a tough task for any team, especially one where several key skill players have to be replaced (Kellen Davis at tight end, Jehuu Caulcrick at running back and Devin Thomas at wide receiver.) MSU also has to deal with replacing several key players on the defensive line.

Of course Cal has their own issues. They have an inexperienced quarterback and lost their all-everything speedster Desean Jackson. However, they do not have to deal with playing three time zones away in front of a hostile crowd.

I expect MSU to play will, Javon Ringer and Brian Hoyer will carry the load on offense. And defensive players like Trevor Anderson and Brandon Long will play well on the defensive line.

But MSU will have too much to overcome and will fall just short 27-21.

If I am wrong, buckle up for one heck of a season.

Season Standing Prediction Time!

Alright, here are the final Big Ten standings as I see them unfolding..

Ohio State 12-0 (8-0)
Wisconsin 11-1 (7-1)
Penn State 10-2 (5-3)
MSU 8-4 (5-3)
Purdue 7-5 (5-3)
Michigan 7-5 (4-4)
Illinois 7-5 (4-4)
Iowa 6-6 (3-5)
N'Western 5-7 (1-7)
Indiana 5-7 (1-7)
Minnesota 4-8 (1-7)

Let's check back at the end of the year and see how close I was.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Listen to the Coach Dantonio Show

After (or maybe before, whichever you'd like) click here to listen to this week's Coach Dantonio Show. It was recorded on Wednesday live at Reno's East in East Lansing.

Enjoy what the Coach has to say about his team and the upcoming season.

Everything you need to know for Game One

Members of the media are given tons of information prior to each game. That's how broadcasters can give you all those wacky stats about how a certain team hasn't won a game on a Wednesday in months ending in "y" in 23 years.

One of the tools media members use is available to the general public and those are the pre-game notes. They list everything anyone needs to know about both teams - home record, away records, records in the series, records against that conference, etc.

The game notes for the MSU/Cal game can be found here.

I mean the game is not until 8 p.m. ET, take some time to catch up on the Spartans' matchup before the game.

Virtual reality bites?

So, I picked up the newest NCAA football game by EA Sports for the XBox 360 earlier this summer. Of course I chose to control the Spartans though the 2008 season.

Well, lets just say I hope the real Spartans fare better than I did!

I finished with a 5-7 record and missed out on the bowls. I finished with wins against Cal, FAU, Eastern Michigan, Iowa and Michigan, but that was it.

I trust Dantonio is a better coach/playcaller than I am.

Let's go!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Free Press' Drew Sharp uses the 'S' word

In general, Spartan fans tend not to agree with our friendly columnist at the Detroit Free Press, Drew Sharp. He is, after all, a graduate of the University of Michigan, and in many Spartans' minds, that maize and blue stain can never be washed away.

However, Spartan fans should take a look at today's column regarding MSU's football team under second-year head coach Mark Dantonio.

While he does not heap tons of praise the Spartans' way, he simply says what Spartan fans have hoped to hear for years: this is the beginning of something good.

There have been many debates among MSU fans regarding how thi upcoming season could be classified as a success. Some have said a repeat of last year's 7-5 season would be a failure.

I disagree, and from the sounds of it, Mr. Sharp disagrees. This season cannot be classified as a failure or a success simply by winning or losing one more game than they did a year ago. It is about laying the foundation for the future and building a program from the bottom up - because let's face it, under John L. Smith, this program did hit the bottom.

The Spartans need stability. Remember, this is a program which has not had back-to-back winning seasons since 1989-90 (there were a few .500 seasons in there, but those are not winning.)

Let's hope Dantonio keeps his level head this season and we see the stability that Drew Sharp talked about and we all have been craving.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Spartans scheduling gets credit

I wrote about this at the start of last season. I wrote that schools like Michigan and Ohio State should be embarrassed by their schedules. No teams of their caliber (or frankly of the caliber of MOST Big Ten Teams) should have Division I-AA teams on their schedules.

(Of course Michigan ended up losing that game to Appalachian State, but that's another story completely.)

As much as I don't like our friends from Ann Arbor or Columbus, I respect them for what they are - traditional football powerhouses. And as a fan of the Big Ten, its embarrassing to have so many of our teams playing I-AA opponents. And yes, I know plenty of programs from other conferences do the same thing, but we are in the Big Ten, and we should be different.

Now, the Wall Street Journal agrees, while giving Michigan State credit for playing at Cal to start the season. I thought it was a good read about the state of college football which has lead to so many of those lopsided matchups to start the season... Well, lopsided in the wrong way if you're a Wolverine.

You can read the full Wall Street Journal story here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A new gem on campus

Well, I cannot wait to see this in person.

We know MSU has prided itself in some of the best basketball facilities in the Big Ten, if not the country - just ask Coach Tom Izzo about how top notch facilities have helped him succeed and build the Spartans into one of the premiere programs in the country.

The new Skandalaris Football Center , a $15.5 million addition to the Duffy Daugherty football building, was dedicated last week just in time for the 2008 season. The addition was made possible through the generous donation of MSU alumni Robert and Julie Skandalaris of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., who donated $5 million as the lead gift. Former head coach and current MSU trustee George Perles donated $500,00 to the project and has "Perles Plaza" named in his honor.
My favorite part of the new gallery has to be the NFL display. On the wall are helmets of every NFL team and a list of all of the Spartans who have played for that team posted underneath. You have to takepride in the players going on to the next level. Of course near this display is a huge picture of Plaxico Burress's Super Bowl winning catch from last year.

See the photo gallery of the new center here. And read more about the center here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A new season getting underway with a "new" blog

I'll be the first to admit I have slacked off in keeping this blog up and running. But what can I say? Last fall was a bit hectic, so the blog slipped down a few pegs in terms of importance of things that needed to be accomplished.

That said, I am refocusing on this as the new football season gets underway and hope to keep it going through basketball and hockey season as well.

Here we go.. A season preview and predictions soon to follow.