Sep 24, 2012

ESPN's College Gameday Visits East Lansing This Week


From: ESPN.com

By: Connor Wilton
@ConnorJayWilton

ESPN's College Gameday is returning to East Lansing this week for the highly-anticipated Big Ten opener between the 20th ranked Michigan State Spartans and the 14th ranked, undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Spartans have struggled mightily on offense their last two games managing to score only 2 TDs in that same span. Ohio State comes into the game 4-0 and are currently the highest ranked Big Ten team. However, Ohio State has yet to play a road game and really haven't played a quality opponent so far.

Gameday is always a fantastic experience for the fans. I went last year and it was one of the coolest sports experiences I've ever had. The atmosphere is electric and I'm sure the Spartan fans will be extremely energetic once again.

Also, I think everyone remembers what ensued the last time Gameday came to East Lansing... Rocket

Sep 22, 2012

Spartans receiving corps to blame for poor performances

Via Lansing State Journal
By Sean Gagnier

EAST LANSING- Some blame for the Spartans loss to Notre Dame definitely should be heaped on QB Andrew Maxwell, he locked onto receivers and made some poor throws, but as the Spartans game with Eastern Michigan showed, it's the receivers who are running this team into the ground.

During the game with Notre Dame coach Mark Dantonio said he grew impatient of waiting for the run game to get going and instead went to the passing game, which due to the incredibly poor play of the receiving corps cost Michigan State the game.

Maxwell didn't look great against Notre Dame, but he certainly wasn't as bad as the numbers implied, his receivers dropped 10, yes 10, passes. Last checked, receivers were supposed to actually catch the ball. But apparently, Bennie Fowler, Tony Lippett and DeAnthony Arnett didn't get that memo.

In the game against Eastern Michigan, Spartan receivers dropped another five passes. Let's say that again. Against an 0-3 team from the M.A.C. Spartan receivers found it difficult to catch anything more than a cold. Maxwell had improved from Notre Dame, he didn't lock onto receivers and attempted to spread the ball around in the passing game. But when it became obvious that his receivers didn't feel the need to catch anything thrown near them, Maxwell went to his safety blanket in Dion Sims.

Sims racked up more than 100 yards receiving against Eastern, and due to the poor play, again, of the receivers Michigan State was forced to give the ball to LeVeon Bell 32 times, which to his credit he turned into more than 250 yards of offense.

Right now, this Spartans offense consists of Bell getting the ball and the occasional play-action pass to Sims. That's not good enough to beat any Big Ten team. Hell, it was barely enough to beat Eastern Michigan. When your offense goes into halftime against a team from the MAC, they damn well better have more than three points.

Something needs to be done about the receivers at Michigan State, whether it be submersing their gloves in super glue prior to the game or setting them in front of a pitching machine and having them catch passes for hours at a time. If the Spartans go into B1G play  with nothing more than Bell and Sims, there is no way they can win much of anything, regardless of how well their defense plays.

Sep 16, 2012

Michigan State vs Notre Dame: My Thoughts

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

By: Connor Wilton
@ConnorJayWilton

What just happened? I think that's the phrase a lot of Michigan State fans were saying after their dreadful performance against Notre Dame last night. Notre Dame dominated in every aspect of the game, defeating the Spartans 20-3. The loss was the first home defeat for the Spartans since 2009 where they fell to Iowa on the final play.

There are several people/aspects of the game you could criticize for that performance last night, but I think Notre Dame is just a better football team, plain and simple. This was the first true test for either team of the year. They both beat up on terrible teams in Navy and CMU, and then squeaked by against decent teams in Boise State and Purdue at home. With all the talk about MSU's fantastic front 7, no mentioned anything about Notre Dame's which is just as good if not better, than the Spartans. Manti Te'o is the best ILB in college football and proved it again yesterday. They prevented big gains from the MSU running game and constantly harassed Maxwell, sacking him 4 times.

The one thing that really confused/annoyed me this game was the play-calling from OC Dan Roushar. I thought he gave Maxwell no chance to spread the field in any way. The play-calling consisted of dump offs to Bell and quick slants to the receivers. They never took any shots down field or deep over the middle. Now, this might not necessarily be Roushar's fault, it could result from a lack of confidence from Maxwell.  There were drops from the WRs again as well which certainty did not help Maxwell, but to throw the ball 45 times in a game and only gain 187 yards is horrendous.

Unfortunately, I could go on and on about how terrible MSU played, but there is no point. After the way the schedule was setting up, you could hear some MSU fans begin to whisper talks about a potential undefeated season. I, for one, thought it was possible but was worried about this ND game. It was pretty clear last night that Michigan State is by no means that good of a football team.  Once again, give credit to Notre Dame. ND have tons of talent and could be in a the midst of a special season.

As disappointing and terrible the Spartan performance was last night, the Spartans need to realize what's still at stake. The goal is to win the Big Ten Championship and play in the Rose Bowl, and that goal was not affected one bit last night.

Sep 11, 2012

Notre Dame/Michigan State Preview: Game of the Century Part 2?

Will MSU win on a trick play, or runaway with an easy victory?
Courtesy of: doublecoveragefootball.com
By Blain Bradley


The stage is set for a showdown at Spartan Stadium on September 15th. The 10th ranked Spartans will face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who after a close win against Purdue, earned a #20 ranking in the AP Top 25 Polls. The game has huge BCS implications. Both teams are seeking post-season bids in major bowl games, and with a game like this they'll have their chance to make some noise. 

Notre Dame returns star running back Cierre Wood. Wood was suspended for the first two games due to a violation of team rules. Wood is an elusive runner who can cause frustration for the Spartans. Wood was considered a dark-horse Heisman candidate prior to his suspension. Wood is currently on thin ice with the Fighting Irish fans. Fighting Irish Faithful were relying on wood to be a leader. They expect nothing less than a huge game from him. 

The Spartans will counter the Fighting Irish with their own Heisman hopeful, Le'Veon Bell. Last week against Central Michigan Bell carried the ball 18 times for 70 yards (3.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Bell had an absolute monster game in the opener against Boise State. Bell's most eye-popping statistic of the season is his yards per carry average, which currently sits at 4.5. Bell can chip away at the Notre Dame defense. He is the rock that holds the Spartan offense. The Notre Dame rush defense is currently allowing runners to amass 3.41 yards a carry. Bell will challenge the tenacious defense and look to make big plays. 

Irish quarterback Everett Golson has looked solid in his first two outings. He was methodical against Navy, however he suffered a thumb injury in the Purdue game that forced him to leave early (before leaving the game Golson completed 21 out of 31 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown). According to insiders at CBS, Golson is "expected to start this game." This is going to be Golson's biggest test to date. He will face a stellar Spartan defense that will look to pressure him constantly. Golson was sacked five times in the Purdue game. The Spartan pass rush can finally shine against a weak pass protection.

Spartan fans will be watching quarterback Andrew Maxwell intently. Maxwell was a little shaky in his first start against Boise State. Coach Dantonio changed the game plan up against Central Michigan. He limited Le'Veon Bell's carries, and allowed Maxwell to throw the ball around. Maxwell looked poised against Central. He threw 31 passes, completing 20 of them for 275 yards and two touchdowns. At times Maxwell looked nervous, often overthrowing receivers. He definitely has the arm strength needed to contend in the Big Ten, he just needs to work on finesse. 

The game also has historical value to it. Notre Dame and Michigan State have been heated rivals since 1897. The Spartans and Fighting Irish duke it out in the Battle for the Megaphone. In 1966 the rivalry escalated to new heights in a game that was dubbed "The Game of the Century." The 9-0 Spartans were ranked #2 in the polls, while the Fighting Irish (who were 8-0) entered the game at #1. The Spartans were the defending national champions. The game ended in a 10-10 tie (the Irish elected not to make an endzone attempt) which led to both teams being crowned national champions.

The rivalry has grown even bigger in recent years. Two years ago, Coach Dantonio stunned the college football world when he called a "Little Giants" trick play in overtime to take down the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame got revenge by solidly defeating the Irish in their next showdown. 

Will Saturday night's game rival past MSU/Notre Dame games? Will the Spartans pull off another "Little Giants" play to take down Notre Dame? Will it be the new "Game of the Century"? Fans will have to tune in to ABC on September 15th at 8 P.M. to find out. 

FINAL PREDICTION
MSU 20
ND 10
The Spartans will prove to be the more physical team, handling Notre Dame on both sides of the ball. Andrew Maxwell will look much more composed than he did against Boise State, and Le'Veon Bell will continue to score when in the red-zone. The Fighting Irish defense has not faced an offense with raw power and talent like Michigan State's. Irish quarterback Everett Golson will cause early headaches for the Spartans, however the Spartans will tighten the screws by halftime. 

Sep 9, 2012

Michigan State vs Central Michigan: My Thoughts

Photo From: mlive.com

By: Connor Wilton
@ConnorJayWilton

The Spartans continued their winning ways this season with a dominating performance Saturday afternoon vs Central Michigan. The Spartans scored early and often en route to a 41-7 victory. MSU was very impressive on both offense and defense, albeit against an inferior team.

While several players played great for the Spartans saturday, 3 players really stood out to me.

Andrew Maxwell

Maxwell appeared to be much more comfortable yesterday than he was last Friday against Boise State. He had a few shaky throws at first, but settled down nicely and threw for 275 yards with a pair of TDs. I, as well as many State fans have emphasized how important Maxwell is to the Spartans this year, and this performance was a big step in the right direction.

Bennie Fowler

After a very disappointing performance from the Spartan WRs last week, Bennie Fowler emerged as a potential No. 1 WR for  Maxwell and the passing game yesterday. Fowler had 8 receptions for 99 yards and a TD and was clearly the best WR on the field. Someone is going to need to step up at the WR position for the Spartans to have success through the air this year, and Fowler appears poised to take it.

William Gholston 

I was rather critical of William Gholston's performance against Boise State, but Gholston bounced back nicely yesterday against Central. Gholston harassed Central early and often and registered his first sack of the season, to go along with 7 tackles.  If Gholston continues to play the way he did yesterday, the Spartan defense will continue to suffocate defenses.

It was a very encouraging performance from the Spartans yesterday. I understand they were playing a very inferior Central Michigan team, but great teams blowout bad teams, and thats what State did yesterday.