Observations on the overtime
win over the Spartans, 34-31!
1-Michigan creates 5 red zone opportunities
and cashes in for 24 points plus a red zone in overtime for 3
more to give them a well-deserved 34-31 overtime thriller. Michigan
State never led in this game, and had two opportunities to take
the lead, but their field goal kicker, Goss, missed both opportunities.
2-Chad Henne was 26 of 35 for 256
yards and 3 first half TDs, one pick and 2 sacks. Avant had 10
catches for 96 yards and one TD. Mario Manningham had 4 catches
for 66 yards including a 43 yard TD. Carl Tabb caught 5 passes
for 35 yards plus had a nice 23 yard kickoff return. We had 21
first downs, and 488 yards in total offense with 8 of 20 on 3rd
and 4th down conversions. This meant a one minute time of possession
advantage which doesn't sound like a lot, but it resulted in 11
more offensive plays. In the 4th quarter, we possessed the ball
11:51 of 15 minutes.
3-Michael Hart had 218 yards in
36 carries for 1 TD, and our rushing attack came up with 232 net
yards despite two sacks. Mike Hart definitely gets the game ball
as offensive player of the game. Nice TD catch by Thompson on
a critical 3rd down red zone play. Our running game contributed
to our time of possession advantage, and keeping the ball away
from their terrific offense.
4-Defense came up big in stopping
a dynamite Spartan offense! Great game plan by Coach Hermann and
great execution by our defensive unit. Advantage goes to Steve
Stripling, former Spartan defensive line coach. Brendent Engelmon
gets the game ball with 13 tackles, 10 unassisted and some nice
hits. Who needs Earnest Shazor? Woodley didn't have the numbers
he'd have liked, but he did apply great pressure on Stanton, and
an observer could see that Stanton was aware of his presence at
all times. Woods came off the bench and had two tackles for loss
including a sack plus he forced a fumble. Barringer got a nice
pick, and we had some nice pass break ups by Barringher, Hall,
Adams, Burgess and Mason. Good coverage in the backfield by Ron
English's troops who limited the Spartan passing attack to one
TD pass. Biggs left the game with a knee injury. Jamison saw some
action, and did get a tackle for loss. We had 8 tackles for loss.
5-Stanton ended up with 20 of 30
for 282 yards, one TD pass, one TD run and one pick. Their offense
also had 21 first downs, but were 8 of 14 in 3rd down conversions,
and only converted their 4 red zone opportunities into 17 points.
They did have 455 yards in total offense, but only one big play
TD to Kerry Reed for 61 yards. The Spartans had 173 net rushing
yards with Teague leading the way with 72 yards, Caulcrick had
50 yards and one TD, and Ringer had 37 yards in 12 carries. The
big story was Stanton netting zero yards in 8 carries due to 2
Wolverine sacks. Dave Herron contributed 13 tackles and Eric Smith
had 11 including a TD saver on Hart in a losing effort.
6-Special teams ended up winning
the game with Rivas hitting the game winning field goal plus another
and 4 extra points. Ryan had 4 punts including one downed by Harrison
at the 2, and 4 touchbacks in six kickoffs. Hall, Mason and Tabb
did an adequate job in Breaston's absence. The Spartan return
game was non-existent, and their poor kicking game cost them the
game in the end. We were well-disciplined today with only 2 penalties
for 7 yards.
7-Two overtime victories over the
Spartans in two years will leave them crying for another year
on how they were "robbed" and how they deserved to win.
Last year, I'd agree, but not this year. We deserved this win.
Turnover battle was even with the Spartans winning the points
off 2 turnovers by Henne in the second half, 10-7. Big plays went
to the Spartans, 2-1 with Peko's 74 yard TD rumble and Reed's
61 yard TD scamper compared to Manningham's 43 yard TD grab. The
difference was how the teams finished, we did and they didn't.
8-The Spartans overcame a 14-0,
21-7 and 31-24 deficits to tie the game twice, but couldn't take
the lead. We went from almost going up in the 4th quarter by two
scores to 34-24 to seeing a 31-31 tie in the big fumble recovery
by Peko; however, we kept our poise, maintained possession of
the football and drove to a winning scoring opportunity. Rivas'
miss led to the big defensive overtime stop that gave him a reprieve.
9-It was great to see two true freshman
make such a difference today with Antonio Bass running for 8 yards
in the red zone to set up a touchdown, and Manningham move into
a starting role with the shoulder injury to Breaston. Teams will
have to re-prepare for our offense. Brandon Harrison, Darnell
Hood and Morgan Trent got their first starts as Wolverines as
we began the game defensively with 7 defensive backs. There were
not a lot of substitutions on on either side of the ball, but
Terry Taylor was our first guy in behind Alan Branch at Nose Tackle
ahead of Will Johnson. Our offense didn't start too well in the
second half with a turnover, and two three and outs; however,
they finished well. Noticeably missing today was Max Martin.
10-We're back in the Big Ten race!
Hopefully, we can beat Minnesota for the Brown Jug and homecoming
next week to maintain our momentum and improvement.
Observations on the first half with
the Spartans, 24-21!
1Wow! What a nice start and great execution in the red zone.
We are three for three in the red zone for 17 points plus a big
play TD to Manningham for our 3 touchdowns and a field goal. Unfortunately,
we couldnt contain the big play Spartan offense and they
came back with 2 for 2 in the red zone plus a big play to Kerry
Reed for 61 yards for their 21 points. The difference in the game
so far is one turnover that we turned into 7 points plus the penalty
for roughing the kicker that turned a field goal into a touchdown.
2Defense came up big early,
but Spartan offense is wearing them down! Our linebackers are
simply not doing the job against their running game. Harrison
was burned badly on the quick toss to Reed for the TD scamper.
3Henne is 19 of 24 for 218
yards and 3 TDS, no picks and no sacks. Avant has 7 catches for
77 yards and one TD while Manningham has 3 catches for 58 yards
and one TD. Each team has 13 first downs; we have 299 yards in
total offense while they have 311 yards. We are also about even
in rushing yardage, 93 to 92. Time of possession is in the MSU
favor by 1:30.
4Hart has 14 carries for 84
yards, and our rushing attack has shown some signs of life; however,
we set up the run with our passing game. Nice TD catch by Thompson
on a critical 3rd down red zone play.
5Stanton is 11 of 17 for 207
yards, one TD pass, one TD run and one pick. Caulcrick has bruised
his was for 6 carries and 50 yards and one TD.
6Special teams has been good
so far with Ryan blasting 3 touchbacks on kickoffs, and punting
twice. Rivas has 3 extra points and 2 field goals although only
7We must maintain time of
possession advantage, and make the most of our opportunities while
limiting their opportunities. Hopefully, we can keep the turnover
advantage in our favor and finish well. Big plays are even. Best
defense and best finish wins it. I dont like our chances
in a shoot out. We can win this one, but we must execute and finish
I just love to "eat my words."
Michigan State Preview: Revenge will be a key factor as will home field advantage
in this episode of the great intrastate rivalry. Drew Stanton
leads Michigan State and the nation in passing efficiency, and
he ranks #9 nationally in total offense. He and Heisman Award
winner, Matt Leinhart, are the two best quarterbacks in the nation.
Javon Ringer, Jason Teague and Jehuu Calcrick lead their ground
game, but it is the menacing, Drew Stanton, that keeps drives
alive and is difficult to contain. Stanton's favorite targets
are Kyle Brown, Jerramy Scott, Terry Love and Basketballer Matt
Trannon; they have 7 TD catches and Trannon has 3. They have a
solid offensive line that protects Stanton well. They are the
#5 scoring offense and #3 in total offense nationally averaging
49 points a game with 27 touchdowns in 4 games. This opens the
door for time of possession and field position advantage. They
have also won two big road games to build their confidence.
On defense, Saginaw standout Clifton
Ryan and Samoan JC transfer Domata Peko put on a solid pass rush,
but it is usually the linebacker, corner and safety blitz package
with Kaleb Thornhill, Eric Smith and SirDean Adams. They are ranked
#23 nationally in rushing defense allowing only 91.8 yards per
game. They did a much better job containing the Irish's Darius
Walker than we did. Where they are weak is in passing defense
ranking 104th of 119 teams and last in the Big Ten, and this brings
their total defense rank to 69th nationally (10th in the Big Ten).
Our best defense will be a ball control offense keeping time of
possession, and the ball away from Stanton.
Special Teams is another area where
Michigan may be able to gain an advantage as the Spartans use
Kyle Brown on kickoffs and punts. Brandon Fields is an excellent
punter, but he hasn't been forced to punt much. Michigan must
limit returns while gaining valuable field position advantage
with Breaston, Manningham or whoever is back there.
Our pass defense should be able
to contain their receivers, but I'm not confident we'll be able
to contain their offense. I don't think our linebackers will be
able to contain Stanton, and I don't see our defensive line sacking
him. I see Michigan State with a balanced attack, and gaining
more yards on the ground than us. If we are able to control the
ball, execute in the red zone to put up points on the board, and
win the turnover battle; we will be in the game until the end.
The Spartan defensive pass rush will definitely put the "heat"
on Henne and their rush defense is geared to stop our run game.
I do not believe that we'll gain 200 yards on the ground; in fact,
I don't believe we'll even get 150 net rushing yards (Hart or
I am predicting that both teams
will gain over 400 yards each of total offense with at least 20
first downs each. I also predict that both teams will get at least
4 red zone opportunities each, but I'm predicting that the Spartans
will be more efficient in their opportunities scoring 3 touchdowns
and one field goal to 2 touchdowns and 2 field goals for us. I
think our offense (and/or defense with turnovers) will need to
put up 30 or more points to win this game, and I'm not sure we'll
be able to do that. I'm predicting that the Spartans will get
off to a quick start, and carry the lead early and through halftime;
however, I also predict that it will come down to a 4th quarter
game. I see the Spartans maintaining a time of possession advantage
when and if they need to; otherwise, if they are able to score
quickly, they won't need to worry about possessing the ball for
a long time. The game will come down to turnovers, big
plays and who finishes the best. That may mean holding
a lead or it could mean coming from behind.
Had Stanton not been injured in
last year's game, MSU would have won. You can bet he'll be in
there the whole way against Michigan, and lead them to a win at
home. Since I work in East Lansing, I've been listening to people
discuss how this game will be a "blowout" or how the
Spartans will win easily. This overconfidence makes me laugh,
but it also makes me sick to hear such unrealistic perceptions
of a great rivalry. The toughest of the two teams, not the most
talented, will win. The game will be close, but I'm sorry to say
that I'm not predicting a Michigan win. If you're a bettor, take
Michigan and the points. I hope my final score prediction is wrong.
MSU 27 Michigan 23