It's unlikely that there will be any major recruiting news today, so I thought I'd write the game preview early this week. Before the season started, I predicted a loss here for Michigan, commenting:
"MSU, as much as it pains me to say it, will have a good team here lead by a senior QB who has the potential to be drafted. Plus it's in East Lansing. Hoke will have the team pumped up, but I think UM will lose this in a close one."
I've gone back and forth on this pick all week, in fact, I've already written this post with a prediction of an MSU win, that's how undecided I am. But now, I've just got the feeling that UM will win this ball game, probably in a similar fashion to the NW game, down at halftime before a dominant 2nd half. Michigan will be immensely pumped up for this game, I can only imagine how much it means to the seniors who haven't beaten the Spartans before; so look for those guys to have big games.
The key for this game, as Kirk would say, is all about the Michigan offense. Can the RBs get decent enough yardage to take some of the pressure off Denard? Can the offensive line hold it's ground against a very good DL with an NFL 1st round pick on it?
In the end I think the OL will hold strong and give Denard the time he needs to make the easy throws, which will be vital in the game. Also, I think Denard is due a 50+ yard TD run where no-one touches him, it seems like it's been a while.
On defense, Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen should have a lot of success against a suspect MSU OL. Michigan needs to stop the run game early, and try to get MSU in 3rd and 7+ type situations; i.e force Cousins to make a tough throw. Cousins is a pretty good passer, but is prone to making mistakes. Look for UM to get a couple INTs.
One thing I am worried about is B.J Cunningham vs our cornerbacks. Is it me, or does J.T Floyd have real problems locating the ball in the air on fly routes; hence the frequent pass interference calls.
Overall it should be a tight game throughout, probably MSU leading 14-7 at halftime, before a strong 2nd half UM performance makes it....
Prediction: Michigan 24; Michigan State 17
Feel free to leave your own prediction in the comments section below. Closest to the correct score will win.....hmm.....the respect and admiration of everyone who reads the blog + a free beer whenever I make the 6000km trip to Ann Arbor!
Note: you might have to wait 1-2 years for the beer.