Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Daniel Herrick Sports Editor and David McIntyre Staff Writer
With the annual Michigan-Michigan State rivalry game this upcoming weekend, we’ve decided to stray from the MIAA and take a look at our two Michigan-collegiate cousins. This time every year Michiganders split down the middle based on allegiances. Michigan State has won the Paul Bunyan Trophy four years in a row. Dave seems to think that streak will end this year, I on the other hand am not so sure…
University of Michigan
Although Michigan’s football team got off to a slow start, dropping games to current #1 Alabama and #5 Notre Dame, along with a narrow victory over Air Force, they have strung together a couple solid wins. In the past two weeks, Michigan has outscored their opponents 89-13 and I expect the team to build on this momentum.
Compare this to the Spartans, who have looked to regress since the start of their season. They have lost three of their past five games and completely underachieved in their two wins, narrowly edging Indiana and only beating Eastern Michigan by sixteen points. While MSU’s defense is about as strong as anticipated from the start of the season, their offense has been in shambles.
Michigan State’s offense has failed to produce more than seventeen points in a game outside of two occasions. The two occasions: a gimme-game against Central Michigan and against Indiana, a team boasting just two wins over teams with a total of six games in FBS play.
While MSU has had success in the past defending Denard Robinson, I’m confident he will be able to outscore Michigan State’s shaky offense. Motivation comes into play for this game as well. Michigan’s seniors have yet to record a win against the Spartans, the only rival they have failed to beat, and are looking to change the score.
Finally, the most reassuring fact for me is that the game is at home. Michigan has yet to lose in the Big House in the Brady Hoke era and I doubt it will start against an underachieving Michigan State team.
The record, ranking, statistics and eyeball test all point to a double-U for the Wolverines.
Prediction: Michigan snaps the skid against MSU, 27-13.
Michigan State University
I’ll be the first to admit that Michigan State has not been impressive this year. Be that as it may, the Wolverines have hardly been awe-inspiring this year either. Sure, they beat UMASS (arguably the worst team in the nation). However, Michigan has yet to beat a ranked team all season. They’ve played two ranked teams thus far. Alabama looked like they could have scored every time they touched the ball. And in the game against Notre Dame, Michigan appeared afraid to score.
Denard Robinson is electric. It’s said all the time, but you just don’t know what he’s going to do. He might break an 80-yard touchdown run while wearing one shoe. Or he may drop back, close his eyes and fire away to anyone willing to catch the ball.
Robinson epitomizes Michigan football. They live and die with his performance every week. Combined against the two real defenses he’s faced all year, Robinson has turned the ball over seven times (six interceptions and one fumble) and led his team a total of 20 points.
Michigan State’s defense should be reminiscent of those two teams for the Wolverines. Robinson’s stats at Spartan Stadium a year ago: 9/24, 123 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT; 18 carries, 42 yds, 1 TD. Keep in mind, the last time Michigan scored 20+ points on State, Tate Forcier was their quarterback.
Andrew Maxwell, the Spartan’s first-year quarterback, has started to look like Robinson with erratic throws and poor decision-making. In his defense, his receivers can’t catch rain in a bucket. Luckily for State, their offense doesn’t entirely depend on their fitful quarterback.
The Spartans have running back Le’Veon Bell: a legitimate Heisman candidate and NFL prospect. His statistics this season speak for themselves. Against Michigan in 2010, State ran for 249 yards. In 2011, 213 rushing yards. Expect Bell to have a big game.
Prediction: 20-13, Michigan State (and former-Hornet WR John Jakubik) win for the fifth consecutive year.