Week 4: Michigan St. (2-1, 0-0 Big 10) vs. Central Michigan (1-2, 0-1 MAC)
Who else wasn’t surprised by last Saturday’s Sparty loss to Notre Lame? I know I wasn’t. I expected a close game, but was at the same time bracing myself for a blowout loss. It’s just the Sparty way; to raise hopes and spirits only to spit in the face of fans with an utterly disappointing showing against an inferior team. Hopefully, last Saturday’s game was their one super-shitty performance of the season.
Losing the way Sparty did last week is grounds for a week of 5-a-days. Well, maybe not that harsh, but something needed to be done since last Saturday. It was expected that the Irish would come out with the intensity they obviously were lacking in their first two games, but it was definitely up to coach Dantonio and his players to match said intensity. Sparty wasn’t playing William & Mary that had just come off of two losses. They were playing Notre Lame, which started the season somehow ranked in the top 25 by the AP and coaches and had lost their first two games in comically disappointing fashion to two inferior opponents. MSU also played at South Bend. Or Notre Dame. Or wherever the hell they play.
53 yards on 17 carries combined from Sparty’s top 2 running backs and 53 passing attempts from Mr. Cousins will almost always spell doom for the team, and it certainly did against Notre Lame’s D last week. The lack of offensive production was rather shocking considering South Florida moved the ball effectively and Michigan absolutely made a joke of the Irish secondary just the week before. MSU won the turnover battle, had more total offense and had a longer time of possession. 29 total rushing yards for a team that leans so heavily on that part of its offense and 12 penalties for 86 yards negated that, coupled with an untimely late interception and kickoff return for a touchdown that gave the Irish some early breathing room.
This week, the challenge for Sparty is not so great. The Central Michigan Chippewas are in for one hell of an ass-whooping, if things go according to plan. It doesn’t help CMU’s cause that they were absolutely manhandled on the road last week by rival Western Michigan, 44-14, and will now go on the road again to play a team that should be seething, having gotten blown the hell out by rival Notre Lame and dropping out of the Top 25 just days apart.
MSU running backs Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell should fare much better against the Chippewas D than they did against Notre Lame’s. If the running game isn’t successful, Cousins should target WR B.J. Cunningham 30 times. A quarter. Sparty needs to obliterate CMU, and very early. Rattle Chippewa QB Ryan Radcliff and stifle running backs Tim Phillips and Zurlon Tipton and MSU should have no problems dispatching of CMU. I seriously doubt CMU believes they can win this game, but their strategy will surely be to keep things close in case of a single-digit deficit late in the contest, where they can try to make magic happen. Dantonio and Co. cannot let this happen.
Some quick numbers for the geeks (national ranking in parentheses):
MSU: 376 ypg (67th) / CMU: 333.7 ypg (92nd)
MSU: 283.3 ypg (34th) / CMU: 226 ypg (62nd)
MSU: 125.3 ypg (83rd) / CMU: 107.7 ypg (99th)
MSU: 28.3 ppg (67th) / CMU: 16 ppg (106th)
MSU: 192.3 ypg (4th) / CMU: 307.7 ypg (36th)
MSU: 104.3 ypg (3rd) / CMU: 182. 3 ypg (35th)
MSU: 88 ypg (28th) / CMU: 125.3 ypg (52nd)
MSU: 12.3 ppg (17th) / CMU: 25.7 ppg (71st)
Again, a win shouldn’t be difficult for Sparty to come by today. An easy win, at that. However, I was riding high after Sparty’s dismantling of FAU and was totally let down the following week. So…
Sparty 40, CMU 3