By CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Sports Editor
Four games. Four years. Four losses. That losing streak against the Michigan State Spartans is currently sticking to the minds of many of the Michigan Wolverine football players, especially the seniors.
On Saturday, October 20, the Wolverines will look to avoid losing to the rival Spartans for the school record fifth consecutive time.
Prediction: Michigan 28, Michigan State 14
LAST YEAR: Wolverines take first loss to MSU
Coming into this game, the Wolverines are riding high, while the Spartans are riding very low. Many thought the Spartans would contend for a B1G 10 Championship, with Michigan coming a very close second. The winner of this game will be going to the B1G 10 Championship in Indianapolis in December.
The Spartans came into the season heavy favorites, while Michigan, also a favorite wasn’t as hyped. When the season started, the Wolverines were blown out in Dallas against Alabama, while the Spartans barely defeated Boise State, who was ranked #24 at the time. The following week, the Wolverines took on a tough Air Force team, but beat them, and the Spartans destroyed Central Michigan.
It looked like it was going to be the Spartans year, but they were still struggling in Week 3. The Spartans fell to Notre Dame, while Michigan dominated UMASS. The following week, Michigan lost to the same Notre Dame team, but kept them in check even with the six turnovers, and the Spartans used a strong fourth quarter to defeat Eastern Michigan, who was on the verge of upsetting the Spartans.
The Spartans fell to the NCAA sanctioned program, Ohio State, in a one-point game, and the season was now going south for the Spartans, while the Wolverines were still looking up, especially with the early bye week.
Things began to look more and more shaky for the Spartans as the Wolverines took advantage of the teams they were facing. Purdue was up next for the Wolverines, and like a quarter of the stadium in West Lafayette, the team didn’t show up and Michigan rolled them over.
Indiana was the opponent the same week the Wolverines traveled to Purdue, and they barely held on for a win against a team that only had two wins. The Spartans rallied in the second half to escape an upset.
The big test was last week. Why? It was homecoming for the Wolverines, while the Spartans game should’ve been a tune-up heading into the rivalry game one week later. The Wolverines took care of their job, shutting out the Fighting Illini, while the Spartans lost in double overtime to the Iowa Hawkeyes, of which I predicted.
Here’s how the teams matchup:
Michigan is led by Denard Robinson, the senior quarterback who constantly breaks team, B1G 10, and NCAA records each week.
The Spartans counter with junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell and for the life of him, cannot find a receiver that can catch the ball.
Le’von Bell is the best running back in the B1G 10 right now, while Fitzgerald Toussaint is trying to find his groove.
Must we talk about the passing side? Michigan clearly has the edge with Funchess, Gardner, Roundtree, and Gallon.
The Michigan State defense was thought to be one of the great defenses in the B1G 10. It’s not always their fault the offense doesn’t put up points to help them out. Michigan on the other hand is getting better and better with each game.
Coach Brady Hoke says they still have things to work on, and that’s true, they do, but their front line on both sides of the ball have been praised for their play, and continue to get better. The only problem for this game is how each defense will defend the run of Robinson and Bell. Denard will be able to throw the ball against the weak Spartan secondary, but part of the Wolverines offense is their run game.
The Spartans are coming in to Ann Arbor with a few wounds from this season, while Michigan has healed theirs from early in the season. Expect the Wolverines to take it from the Spartans early and often.
Although Drew Sharp may think this is just a backyard game on weeds, this has a lot more impact on the season than you might think.
The Paul Bunyan Trophy is coming back to Ann Arbor with this win jumpstarting the rest of the season for the Wolverines, on their way to the B1G 10 Championship.
To read the original article that appeared online only in The Michigan Journal, on Friday, October 19, 2012, go to www.michiganjournal.org