The Michigan State Spartans and Michigan Wolverines will meet for the 110th time this Saturday in Ann Arbor, and for the 65th time, they will be fighting for the Paul Bunyan trophy. And while Michigan owns the overall record of 69-35-5, since the Spartans joined the BigTen in 1953, the record for the trophy is much closer at 36-26-2. And even better news for the fans of the “little brother,” Sparty has defeated “big brother” eight of the last ten meetings. So how do they make it nine of eleven?
Spartan Dawgs come up big
The Michigan State defense has been impressive during the 2017 season, not allowing a touchdown in its first two games against Bowling Green State and Western Michigan. And following a sloppy, offensive mistake-filled game against Notre Dame, the Spartan defense held Iowa to just 19 yards rushing and under 250 total yards of offense. Opposing quarterbacks not-named-Brandon Wimbush are averaging just 138 yards passing, and in their three wins, the Michigan State defense has held opposing rushers to 67 yards per game. If that defense shows up, expect a long day for the maize and blue.
Offense avoids self-inflicted wounds
In Michigan State’s lone loss on the season, the Spartans were sloppy offensively. After Notre Dame opened the game with a touchdown, MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke began marching his team down the field before telegraphing an easy pick-six that gave the Irish a 14-0 lead. In the second quarter with State trailing 14-7, Lewerke fumbled the ball to Notre Dame at the MSU 23-yard-line. Another touchdown soon followed. And then later in the second quarter, LJ Scott fumbled after breaking off a 14-yard run, again giving the ball to the Irish who again scored a touchdown to take a 28-7 lead. Moral of the story, if the Spartans turn the ball over, Michigan will have an easy win.
Mark Dantonio Magic
This is Mark Dantonio’s 11th season as head coach of Michigan State. In his 11 years, he has only had two losing seasons. In his 11 years, he has lost to Michigan just three times. And in his 11 seasons at MSU, he has NEVER lost to Michigan in back-to-back seasons. You better believe he does not want to change that little tidbit on his record. He’s got an offense that can move the football, a defense that can stop Michigan’s offense, and one of the best punters in the country to pin Michigan deep in their own end all night if need be. Don’t be surprised if he has a few tricks up his sleeves as well.