Twelfth ranked Michigan State welcomes the Purdue Boilermakers to East Lansing this weekend. MSU still has a shot at going to the Rose Bowl, as long as they win their last two games. Iowa losing last week helped the Spartan cause, and this week MSU fans will be rooting for the Hawkeyes, or the team that handed Michigan State its’ only loss of the year. If Iowa beats Ohio State and MSU wins out, then the Spartans would tie Wisconsin for the Big Ten title and head to Pasadena based on the head to head victory against the Badgers. Many things must fall into place for the Spartans to go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1990, but one thing is clear, they must only worry about what they can control in taking care of business on the field. Purdue will be a tough test for the Spartans, but a game that Michigan State should win.
The bye week was very important for the Spartans, as they should be at full strength this weekend. MSU will welcome back Keshawn Martin from an ankle injury. He missed the last three games, and it showed with the lack of big plays provided by the Spartans. He will not only be a boost to the Spartan offense, but also to the special teams, where he is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Mark Dell will be at one hundred percent this weekend, after injuring his knee against Minnesota two weeks ago. He has really stepped up his game this year and this has a lot to do with him being healthy all year. He has 41 receptions for 653 yards and 4 touchdowns on the season. Also, the Spartans will welcome back offensive lineman Chris McDonald and linebacker Chris Norman, both of whom missed the last game against the Golden Gophers.
When Michigan State has the ball: The week off was definitely beneficial for quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was hopefully able to get his mind right for the ever important stretch run for the Spartans. He has struggled the last few games, even though he still is completing 65% of his passes and has thrown for 15 touchdowns and 2,277 yards on the year. I look for him to get on track, even against a defense that is ranked first in the Big Ten in sacks and tackles for loss. The leader of this group is All American defensive end Ryan Kerrigan. He is a complete stud at defensive end, as he leads the nation in tackles for loss with 25 and is second in sacks with 12. The Spartan offensive line and running backs must know where he is on every snap or he will make them pay, in which he is the Big Ten’s all-time leader in forced fumbles with 14 for his career. If Cousins is unable to find his groove, Edwin Baker should be able to pick up the slack. He is averaging 98 yards a game, good for 5th in the Big Ten. He is a very tough runner between the tackles, in which he also has the speed to run away from defenders. He is averaging 6.5 yards per carry and has 11 touchdowns on the year.
When Purdue has the ball: The Spartans will face a Purdue team that struggles on the offensive side of the ball. They managed only 17 points last week against a Michigan defense that is absolutely terrible. For example, the Boilermaker offense is ranked dead last in the Big Ten in scoring offense, pass offense, pass efficiency and total offense. Their quarterback is not much of a passer, but he can hurt you with his legs. Rob Henry only completes 50% of his passes, while throwing for only 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, but he has rushed for 466 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. The front seven for Michigan State must stop the run first and force Henry into trying to beat them with his arm. If this is the case, the Spartan secondary must take advantage of his inaccuracy in the pass game. Three players in the secondary for MSU have 3 interceptions on the year, CB Johnny Adams, S Marcus Hyde and S Trenton Robinson. The Spartan defense as a whole has 14 total interceptions, good for 3rd in the Big Ten. It will be tough for Purdue to run the ball against a defense that is ranked 18th nationally against the run, only giving up 119 yards a game.
It will be Senior Day at Spartan Stadium this weekend and I do not see Michigan State having any kind of letdown on such a special day. This senior class has had many highs and lows, but they can be the one that is remembered for providing the Spartan’s first Big Ten Title in 20 years. Michigan State will force a Purdue team that is ranked second to last in turnover margin into many mistakes…
Michigan State 35 Purdue 10
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Written by David Lesmeister