Embed from Getty Images Picking a preseason champion in July is either daring or dumb, I freely admit that. Most seasons in July team to beat was Ohio State. Under Jim Harbaugh Michigan was never the logical pick to win the Big Ten title. Until this season. I believe this is the season Michigan gets over-the-hump and beats Ohio State.
The college football landscape changes often. Making a prediction on what a college football team has done over the past five to 10 years is not wise. What a team has right now is all that matters.
Heading into the 2019-20 college football season, Michigan has fewer question marks in key areas than the rest of the Big Ten teams. The Wolverines have a senior quarterback, Shea Patterson, who helped them go 10-3 a year ago they also have a trio of the best wide receivers in the country. Two of the wide outs have NFL written all over them, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins.
A painful fact from last season, Michigan was one of the slowest moving non option teams nationally and it showed in the Wolverines three losses. The defense was cripples by and offense that did all it could to play possession football.
Enter new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis who will be the lone offensive play caller. Jim Harbaugh will not step in. Now in Ann Arbor is a no huddle, spread based offense. Yet it will be set up by the run.
Michigan’s defense will not be as good as it was last season or the year before. Michigan does have eight players who have starting experience. Serious question abound on the secondary and middle linebacker.
The schedule isn’t easy, but Michigan gets both conference rivalry games at home. Army and Notre Dame will be serious challenging non-conference teams but the results do not count in the Big Ten standings.
So here in July, Harbaugh’s football team has what it needs to win the Big Ten this year. They look like they are in a good position to win the elusive Big Ten title. But, a word of caution, looks can be deceiving.
Embed from Getty Images Not only are Michigan and Michigan State rivals, they are in-state rivals with rabid fan bases. Thanks to the expanded conference slate the two schools meet twice a year because it is a “protected rivalry game.” Now both Tom Izzo and John Beilein want to take it to the max.
“Like football season ends with Michigan and Ohio State, I want to see our season end with Michigan State every year.” Michigan Wolverines head coach John Beilein said. Spartans head coach Tom Izzo is in full agreement.
Before this seasons bump to 18 games Michigan State and Michigan met just once during the regular season. For a rivalry that is the Big Ten’s version of North Carolina and Duke (who meet every season on the last regular season game) that is where the Spartans and Wolverines should go.
“The atmosphere that surrounds this game is electric,” Izzo said. “This should absolutely be the last game every season,” he continued.
Both Tom Izzo and John Beilein will plead their case to the head of the Big Ten basketball committee. God willing they will agree. The conferences two top basketball programs should be spotlighted.
There should be no issues with making this the season ender every season. Yet, it is difficult to know exactly what the powers that be will agree with, and what they will not agree with. Although this seems logical.
Michigan State and Michigan is golden for t.v. ratings , something that is important to the conferences. It is sure to be taken into consideration as the two coaches go before the committee. Also just how electric the crowds are will be looked at as well.
This should be a slam dunk. Pun intended.
Embed from Getty Images Tomorrow is a clash between two Big Ten giants. The Michigan State Spartans head to Ann Arbor to face the Michigan Wolverines. In the seasons biggest basketball game to date.
Let’s start with two players all eyes will be on in this hotly anticipated matchup. Two players that are candidates for Big Ten as well as defensive players of the year. Michigan State’s Cassius Winston will be tasked with keeping Michigan State in the game with points. Michigan’s Zavier Simpson hopes to pace the Wolverines.
Simpson is Mr. do-it-all for the Wolverines. He is currently that favorite to win the Big Ten player of the year. Cassius Winston is not only Michigan State’s best in the Big Ten but is one of the most consistent as well. This is a must see matchup. Between these two scorers.
Zavier Simpson’s teammate, Jordan Poole gives Michigan a dynamic one-two punch. Poole leads the Wolverines with a 38.8% shooting from three point land. Poole leads the Wolverines by a large margin with 59 from beyond the arch.
As good as Cassius Winston is Michigan State boasts another great defensive player in Matt McQuaid. McQuaid is guilty of shutting down the best shooters in the conference. He held Purdue’s Carsen Edwards to 7-35. One aspect of the great defender’s game to watch is he can shoot the three as well. 44.1% from three point land.
Both schools have nearly identical front courts Michigan’s Ignas Brazdeikis and the Spartans Aaron Henry. Both schools count heavily on these two for good reason they are both game changers for the respective teams.
So with that in mind here we go:
BENCH, The edge goes to Michigan only because Michigan State has two big injuries and players that made up their bench have been pressed into action.
Front court, EVEN both schools have very good front courts. There is going to be a three point show put on by both schools tomorrow.
Coaches, EVEN there was a time Michigan State’s Tom Izzo was the best in the Big Ten. However, Since Wolverines coach John Beilein has gotten his program going. He has caught the great Izzo in both wins and talent.
Who wins? Michigan in a tight game. Sure Michigan State has injuries. History tells us never count out a Tom Izzo coached team. The game is in Ann Arbor that is enough to give the Wolverines a slight edge.
Embed from Getty Images The Michigan State Spartans did not have the season they envisioned. Inconsistent play met with injuries derailed the Spartans. With a December 31 showdown against the Oregon Ducks in the Redbox Bowl. Michigan State has a lot to play for.
Fresh off early signing. Michigan State was able to add much needed depth to the offensive and defensive lines. The lack of depth has hindered the Spartans for two seasons now.
Unable to overcome injuries and inconsistent play the newly acquired depth should give the Spartans a much needed boost. They still have plenty of room for growth.
Head Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio and his staff need to let the team know that new recruits will be watching the Redbox Bowl. That no matter how the regular season went it is important to finish strong.
Recruits and their families will gather to watch the school they chose to attend. The recruits will want to see a football that fights and can leave a disappointing season behind.
If the Spartans can rally and beat a tough Oregon team. It will set the mark for 2019. If they do not and get beat Dantonio will have his work cut out for him. He will not only have to clean up the mess from 2018 but begin to prepare for 2019 and incoming freshmen.
That is no easy task. Michigan State has struggled recently against rivals. They need to get back to playing fundamental football. Getting pressure on the quarterback, forcing turnovers and solid tackling while on defense.
Offensively, Michigan State has gotten away from what worked for three seasons. Running the ball consistently throwing the ball a little. Seems outdated? Perhaps, But this is what Michigan State use to do very well.
They got away from what worked and the results have shown. Dantonio, needs to remember what made him successful. When Michigan State gets back to being who they started out as that is when they will return to the top of the Big Ten.
They can being to take those steps Monday, December 31 at the Redbox Bowl.