Michigan vs Michigan State, what we learned

Embed from Getty Images For one quarter it looked like many past Michigan Wolverines vs Michigan State Spartans football games. Rough, physical and draining. After the first quarter, the wheels fell off for the Spartans. Meanwhile Michigan was just getting warmed up.

It was the tail of two tapes. Michigan who suffered a questionable loss to Penn State has not looked like the same team since halftime of that game. Leaving many to wonder what was said in the looker room in Happy Valley? The Spartans fall from Big Ten power has been a sharp decline for at least two years now.

Yesterday at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, The Wolverines played like a bully waiting for it’s victim. Michigan was brutally physical, dynamic on offense, defense and special teams. What is more important, Michigan played fearlessly.

Michigan State played the role of the victim taken by surprise. The Spartans looked scattered, extremely reckless, and were  clearly shaken. This beautiful rivalry has come full circle. Rivalries always do. Make no mistake about it, Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh wanted to humiliate his in-state rival.

The 44-10 thumping the Spartans took came with deep intention and for Michigan implications, this is a win that grabs attention. Not just of the fan base, not just of the Spartans and the fan base in East Lansing, but the rest of the Big Ten.

At 8-2, Jim Harbaugh’s team is building something for the future. The rough transition from Josh Gattis’s new offense is now humming along. The switch in defensive philosophy from big defensive players to smaller quicker players has also paid high dividends.

For the Spartans and the man who has headed that program up for 14 years, after the game Mark Dantonio looked and sounded weary. Perhaps losing by 34 points, which happens to be the worst loss a Dantonio lead Spartan team has ever suffered, will do that to a person.

Jim Harbaugh, said he wanted the Wolverines to reclaim the in state rivalry and set that as priority one when he took over the Wolverines football program. He talked about how it would help in recruiting. Mission accomplished. Much like his days at Stanford, Harbaugh set the first target on the school that hampered recruiting. Then set a new target.

Now that Michigan has bullied the rivalry back from Michigan State, there is little question Harbaugh will now make another school top priority. That school is the one they play in two weeks. As I mentioned before, Harbaugh has a good history of making good on his vision for his program wherever he has been. It is safe to say he will do it again. Be it this season, next season or the one after that.


Michigan Wolverines vs Michigan State Spartans a nasty, bitter rivalry

Embed from Getty Images Michigan vs Michigan State is a bitter rivalry. It is a week in the state of Michigan where friends and neighbors stop talking to each other if they are on opposite sides of who they root for. Tomorrow, the two schools will square off again. One school headed in the right direction, one school is not.

The Michigan State downfall is and has been well documented. That is out the window. In a game like the one that kicks off tomorrow at 12:00 pm, Mark Dantonio will try to rally his team.

For Michigan, Jim Harbaugh is 2-2 against Dantonio but 0-2 in Ann Arbor, he is taking this years game very, very seriously. There have been a flurry of indications Dantonio might hang up his Spartan pullover and move on after this season. Harbaugh would like to be the one to sends him on his way.

All the pressure is on the Michigan Wolverines,  they have generally handled big game pressure with the poise of a student driver driving on the freeway for the first time.

Last season you may recall the Spartans were met by the solitary resistance  of Devin Bush, that game is now remembered as “StompGate.” As Bush dug his cleats into the midfield logo in Spartan Stadium and tore up the sod, forcing Michigan State to quickly call out the ground crew.

For better or worse the Devin Bush feet scrape defines the Wolverines, Spartans rivalry. Bitter, nasty and a genuine dislike for the opposition. Until last year’s 21-7 victory, Michigan had not covered the spread against Michigan State in 10 straight meetings.

This season, the Wolverines are playing some of the teams best football heading into the big game. Michigan State has dropped three in a row. Expect the Spartans to try to give it one last heroic shot.

One problem, Michigan is more talented and has much more riding on the season. I like Michigan to win comfortably.

As the Michigan State Spartans football team contiunes to decline, Mark Dantonio must stay

Embed from Getty Images As the Michigan State Spartans football team suffered an epic fourth quarter meltdown at home to Illinois, head coach Mark Dantonio  needs to stay at Michigan State. In my opinion, it would be a mistake to leave a program, his program like this. A shell of what it once was.

Usually when a football coach takes over a college program it is because it is at or near the bottom of the conference it is part of. There is the rare times that a head coach simply moves on.

For the Michigan State football program and for it’s head coach, this is how Dantonio found the program when he arrived in East Lansing, bumbling near the bottom of the Big Ten. Dantonio surely would not walk away as proud a man as he is. He and his program deserve better.

It is not the fact the Spartans have lost three games in a row. Teams have losing streaks, even Ohio State will soon see it’s run come to and end. But two blowouts in a row then followed by a home loss for the ages has left the Spartans football team in disarray.

The Spartans must now try to rally and head to Ann Arbor to face not only there must hated and heated rival, but a Michigan Wolverines football team that since eliminating turnovers have played some very good football.

Walking off the field after yesterday’s loss the Spartans football players looked in despair. Had they won, there could have been some hope. Albeit slim, with Maryland and Rutgers as the last two football games, those are no longer guaranteed, slam dunk wins. Not for this Michigan State team anyways.

If the Spartans should win two more games they could get an invite to the Quicken Loans Bowl, December 26, at Ford Field in Detroit Michigan. This is where Dantonio’s football program is right now.

When asked after the game what would he tell the students, the alums many who are unhappy with the direction of Spartans football and what the future will look like, Mark Dantonio replied “Next question.”

One problem, the “next question” is Saturday against the Michigan Wolverines.

After a lackluster performance the Michigan State Spartans football is left with questions

Embed from Getty Images Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio blamed game officials, the Spartan fan base joined the football teams head coach in blaming the officials. Both head coach and fans need a healthy dose of reality. The Michigan State offense is once again a train wreck. That is where Saturday’s home loss to Arizona State stemmed from.

I stand by my statement that simply moving coach’s around instead of firing coach’s and bringing in new ones very rarely works. That was on full display Saturday afternoon in East Lansing. I will be the first to say the Spartans defense is flat out nasty. A fantastic group. The offense is the polar opposite.

Through the early part of the season the Michigan State offensive line has found something it lacked last season. Consistency. Albeit, the offensive line is consistently getting shoved back. So not quite the consistency coach’s were looking for.

Make no mistake about it. Saturday’s loss is squarely on the shoulders of head coach Mark Dantonio. It should have never come down to a last second field goal. Moving coach’s around has lead to Michigan State scoring a single touchdown for the second time in three weeks. Go ahead blame the officials.

Michigan State’s offense is nearly unwatchable. It is certainly frustrating for fans and football fans in general. Dantonio is not one to blame others, yet after the schools loss he stood at the podium and did just that. Pointed the finger at officials while making excuses.

This week brings Northwestern. It is not too early to call this a make-or-break game for the Spartans. Because that is exactly what it is. Northwestern can score in bunches. Something Michigan State can not. Michigan State’s defense is beyond good enough to keep the Spartans in the game. Yet, if the offense struggles again and the defense is on the field often, they will begin to wear down.

No one from Michigan State is saying it right now, but you have to imagine the seat under Mark Dantonio is starting to warm up. Blame the officials.

Bold predictions for the Michigan State Spartans football 2019-20 season

Embed from Getty Images Coming off a dreadful season that saw the Michigan State Spartans struggle on offense, struggle on defense, struggle on special teams and struggle to stay healthy. The Spartans hope a reshuffled coaching staff can help their issues. As usual, predictions are just that, uneducated guesses based on where the team is at right now.

The Spartans will have a 1,000 yard running back. Heading into the 2019 season Michigan State has not had a running back rush for 1,000 since 2014. I think a player who can get it done is freshman, that’s right freshman, Anthony Williams. Williams, should be the Spartans main back by the time Big Ten season rolls around. Big words. But Anthony Williams is a very good back.

Cody White, returns strong. Missing four games last season due to injury that lingered throughout the season, White put up modest numbers for himself. 42 receptions for 555 yards and 2 touchdowns. When healthy Cody White is an All-Big Ten type of player as well as a game breaker. Something that Michigan State sorely missed last season.

Michigan State’s defense will produce at least three All-Americans. Defense is still the Spartans most consistent weapon. Kenny Willekes, Raequan Williams and Josiah Scott are three players to watch. All three are capable of carrying the Spartans defense.

Mark Dantonio, is feeling the heat after back-to-back subpar seasons. IF Michigan State can stay healthy they should be in the Big Ten race. Even if the seldom works coaching shuffle fails. The Spartans are talented enough to win games with defense and let the offense grind out the clock.


A few players who could make an impact for Michigan State football

Embed from Getty Images Some players have been in the program, some players have not even  taken a class yet.  Michigan State football has a few players who could make an impact at key positions of need this fall. That is good news for the Spartans.

Strong Safety, Xavier Henderson: as a freshman Henderson  played all 13 games. He was the third down nickelback, Xavier will be the most significant new starter on the Spartans’ top-10 defense that returns nearly intact. Henderson will need to show early on he can improve his tackling and coverage. Something Spartan coaches full expect from the second year player.

Running Back, Anthony Williams: an  early enrollee on the Michigan State campus, Williams really stood out during spring practices and is coming for  LJ Scott’s starting job.

Tight End, Trenton Gillison: last seasons tight ends Matt Sokol and Chase Gianacakos have graduated leaving a spot up for grabs.  Gillison played 14 snaps in two 2018 games against Penn State and Maryland.  Choosing to focus on football and a chance to become a contributor in the revamped passing game, the Spartans need Gillison to take the next step.

Offensive lineman, Devontae Dobbs:  he is a  sturdy 6′ 3″, 295-pound and very aggressive play at the point of attack could force immediate playing time. Dobbs can help the offensive line  group that struggled in run blocking the past two seasons.

The Michigan State Spartans are looking to get back to their run first roots. Use the run to set up the pass. It worked once. The question is with the elite teams that use speed in space can the clunky semi-outdated run first-ball control offense do enough in today’s college football landscape to produce more wins?

Michigan State is willing to find out.