October 01, 2010

Preview: #11 Badgers (4-0, 0-0) at #24 Sparty (4-0,0-0), 2:30 PM CT (*UPDATED*)

Update: MSU coach Mark Dantonio was readmitted to the hospital today with a blood clot, probably a complication from his surgery after the Notre Dame game. Not sure how this will affect MSU's approach today. I wish Dantonio all the best and a speedy recovery.

Finally, the real college football season begins. A strong but still-flawed Badger team heads to East Lansing where they haven't won since 2002. My favorite MSU memory was Lee Evans's 5 TD day at Camp Randall back in (November?) 2003. My now-wife had just moved to Wisconsin and her parents were in town that weekend for a visit. We had a great time in the student section in our light sweatshirts but my VA-based in-laws were absolutely freezing despite their arctic gear. They left after Wisconsin went up by 30 points or so to find a bar to warm up in.

I don't know much about MSU so let's take a look at their results before taking a closer look at the individual matchups.

MSU Results
vs Western Michigan: W 38-14
at Florida Atlantic: W 30-17
vs Notre Dame: W 34-31 (OT)
vs Northern Colorado: W 45-7

The most notable one here is the ND game, which they won on a fake FG attempt in overtime. Ballsy call by the coaching staff and it worked perfectly. As for the rest, not much to really conclude. They won the games they should have and with a good enough margin, though the FAU game probably should have been a little higher.

FO Rankings (parens are UW ranks)
FEI: 39 (41)
S&P Offense: 24 (19)
S&P Defense: 92 (111)
S&P Team: 27 (19)

Primary offensive players

Kirk Cousins: 61/91, 863 yds, 6 TD, 2 INT, 164.1 rating
Scott Tolzien: 64/84, 851 yds, 5 TD, 2 INT, 176.2 rating

Edwin Baker: 57 Rush, 449 yds, 7.9 yd/carry, 5 TD
Le'Veon Bell: 48 Rush, 396 yds, 8.2 yd/carry, 7 TD
John Clay: 77 Rush, 501 yds, 6.5 yd/carry, 6 TD
James White: 34 rush, 269 yds, 7.9 yd/carry, 4 TD

I'm surprised to see how well MSU's rushing attack has acquitted itself. Even more impressive is that neither of those guys were at the top of the depth chart heading into the season. Overall it looks like their offense is quite underrated. Defense looks like their big problem. They gave 31 points to a mediocre Domer team at home.

Key Matchups:
MSU LT D.J. Young vs UW DE J.J. Watt
Watt is one of the best pass rushers in the Big 10, and Young has looked shaky against MSU's weak competition. It could be a long day for Cousins, and Sparty in general if he has a rough time.

MSU KR Keshawn Martin vs UW Special Teams
UW's special teams looked like absolute shit against ASU, and didn't have much to do last week against Pile of Electronics State. We'll see if any corrections have been made

Michigan State Spartans vs Michigan State Spartans
Sparty has been the most penalized team in the B10 this year, and they've averaged 78 penalty yards per game on roughly 9 penalties per game.

Prediction: A close game, but Wisconsin pulls away in the 4th quarter. UW wins 34-24

Lots of good games on the schedule in general - there's going to be a lot of channel flipping. Some quick predictions

2:30, #21 Texas vs #8 Oklahoma. The classic RRS. Ryno says Texas can win this game if they stop being cute with their offense. I think Oklahoma wins, 24-17. It will cap off a pretty awful week in general in Austin, after losing to UCLA last week and having the campus shut down by a student gunman.

7:00,#9 Standford at #4 Oregon. This should be a fun one. I'm voting for Oregon to win this barn-burner 38-31, mainly because I'm annoyed that Stanford somehow leapfrogged UW (and moved up 10 spots) after beating ND last week. What gives? I think Stanford is probably the better team but it runs contrary to how this bullshit polling system works.

7:00 #7 Florida at #1 Alabama. Florida could win this game, but Alabama has certainly staked is claim as the #1 team. If this were in the Swamp I might feel differently. AlaGoddamnBama wins 24-13.

7:00 #22 Penn State at #17 Iowa. A shaky freshman QB playing against a fired up Iowa defense at Kinnick? Yes please. Iowa wins 31-13.