Friday, November 16, 2007

An obligatory look at Michigan State

Before I move on there's an update to the HUB fight and both BSD and RUTS have it covered better than I can so head on over to either one of their sites for all the dirt on this wonderful team. Just a teaser: it involves professional wrestling style-moves.

Now onto the game Saturday – normally I start with the opposing team's logo but I just can't resist putting up the glorious trophy Penn State will be playing for, so here it is.



Overall (6-5) – that's right they're bowl eligible, Penn State doesn't get a chance to knock them out of a bowl this season

UAB – W (55-18)
PITTSBURGH – W (17-13)
at Notre Dame – W (31-14)
at Wisconsin – L (34-37)
INDIANA – W (52-27)
at Ohio State – L (17-24)
at Iowa Hawkeyes – L (OT) (27-34)
MICHIGAN – L (24-28)
at Purdue – W (48-31)


Michigan State sports the #1 scoring offense in the Big Ten averaging 34 points per game. Sparty's rushing offense is 21st nationally and 2nd only to Illinois in the Big Ten. Javon Ringer has rushed for 1298 yards and added 282 yards receiving. Jehuu Caulcrick has also rushed for 714 yards and a whopping 20 touchdowns so it's obvious we'll see Jehuu when MSU gets down near the goal line.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer has thrown for an efficient 2337 yards, tossing 14 touchdowns and only 5 picks. Hoyer definitely has a favorite target in Devin Thomas who has caught 1087 yards and 5 touchdowns this season. Look at it this way, the second leading receiver is Javon Ringer so a lot of MSU's offense could come down to how well Justin King covers Thomas and how well the linebackers diagnose screen passes.

The offensive line doesn't pass protect well coming in at 92nd in the nation in sacks allowed – this could be a good matchup for Penn State who leads the Big Ten in sacks and TFL.


Cornerback Kendell Davis-Clark and Linebacker Greg Jones are tied for the lead in tackles with 69. Davis-Clark also has 4 sacks on the year which means they like the corner blitz at MSU. Defensive end Jonal Saint-Dic leads the team with 14 sacks and 8 forced fumbles and the other defensive end Ervin Baldwin isn't too shabby either, he has 7.5 sacks and 16 TFL. Michigan State ranks 7th nationally in sacks and 10th in tackles for loss.

Corner Otis Wiley leads the team with 4 interceptions but is listed as an "OR" player, as in the starting free safety will be Wiley OR Travis Key. The Spartans are middle of the road in rushing and passing defense ranking 41st and 55th respectively.

Special Teams

Be afraid on kickoffs, be very afraid. Devin Thomas leads the Big Ten conference in kickoff return yardage averaging 28.93 yards per return. That doesn't bode well for a Penn State team that has trouble stopping anyone on kickoffs. Amazingly they are 109th in the nation on punt returns so go figure. Kicker Brett Swenson is 13 of 20 in the field goal department with a long of 46. Swenson isn't the kickoff guy that job belongs to Todd Boleski who has 9 touchbacks on the year. Punter Aaron Bates is averaging a pedestrian 39.5 yards per punt as Sparty is 10th in the Big Ten in net punting.

Game Outlook

Michigan State's most impressive win this season came against Purdue which happens to be the last game. Hoyer looked great in that game as Purdue could not stop the Michigan State offense. This game really depends on how well Justin King covers Devin Thomas and how well the kickoff coverage team contains Thomas on kickoffs. Look for Michigan State's rushing numbers to drop a bit but I don't think Penn State will shut down Ringer and company. Penn State will play their stupid bend but don't break defensive scheme and it may come down to PSU's offense outscoring MSU's. Special teams will also be key on kickoffs for Michigan and punt returns for Penn State.

Final Score

Penn State 24
Michigan State 21

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