Michigan State will take on Northern Colorado of the FCS this weekend, after an exhilarating victory over Notre Dame this past Saturday. There will be three things again that I will be looking for if the Spartans are to be victorious this weekend. The first is how they will respond after such an exciting and emotionally draining game. MSU must not have a letdown this week, in which they need to come out and take care of business. We have seen this in the past with many teams (Michigan State included); where they have a huge win the week before, only to lose that momentum by going down to an inferior team the next week. This almost happened to Michigan against UMass, but unfortunately they came out with a victory. They did not play very well, in which they almost lost to an FCS team the week after their own stirring win at Notre Dame. MSU cannot let this happen and I believe that they have turned a corner and that this type of thing will not be an issue anymore. I also forgot to mention Coach Dantonio having a minor heart attack after the game, which only adds emotion and meaning to the games that will be played here in the coming weeks. This type of incident can have a negative or positive effect on a team and senior leadership will be more important than ever for the Spartans.
Second, I look for Kirk Cousins to get it going and begin to find some kind of rhythm in the passing game. This would be the week to do it against an FCS school, especially because it will get a lot harder to do so, considering the teams that are coming up next for the Spartans. It will be important that Offensive Coordinator Don Treadwell, who is taking over for Dantonio, keeps working on improving Cousins’ confidence, by calling the right plays that will lead to more completions. The run game and trick plays cannot win every game for MSU and the Spartans must become a more balanced team. Finally, there must be improvement in the pass defense as a whole. I do not have anything else to say about the subject and I am sorry that I sound like a broken record. I will not say anything else about this topic, just as long as we can finally stop someone in the passing game.
When Michigan State has the ball: MSU has averaged 242 yards/game on the ground, good for 11th overall in the nation. The Spartans will continue to pound the ball with the Bell & Baker Express. They both have been spectacular in the early part of the season and I look for them to continue to make big plays in the run game for the Spartans. Michigan State must also continue to get the ball into Keshawn Martin’s hands, as he is the most explosive player the Spartans have right now. He averages 141 all-purpose yards a game and the great thing is that you can get the ball to him in a variety of ways: through the air, on kick and punt returns and also in the run game on screens, reverses and end arounds. Northern Colorado will need to play exceptionally well on defense to win and they are capable of doing this. They only give up 114 yards a game on the ground and have given up only 3 rushing touchdowns on the year. They have also forced 11 turnovers in three games, so the Spartans must take care of the ball.
When Northern Colorado has the ball: The Bears offense can score some points, averaging 45 a game. This will definitely be a test for the Michigan State defense, in which they must stop Bear’s WR Jace Davis, who averages 93 yards a game and already has 4 touchdowns. He is a big play threat every time he touches the ball, averaging 20 yards per reception and a long of 70 yards. MSU gives up 287 passing yards a game (369 last week), so Bears QB Dylan Orms should be chopping at the bits to come to East Lansing. He has thrown for 6 touchdowns on the year and averages 191 passing yards a game. The run defense for the Spartans must continue to be stout against a team that averages over 200 rushing yards a game. MSU only gives up 74 a game, so it will difficult for the Bears to establish anything on the ground.
The key to game will be each team’s rush offense against the other’s rush defense. Whoever is able to run the ball to open up the play action game will win this game, and that will be the Spartans. Final Score: MSU 49 Northern Colorado 21
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Written by David Lesmeister