MSU Week - Reasons to be Pessimistic?

Submitted by Steves_Wolverines on October 15th, 2018 at 1:52 PM

It's MSU week. We know our players hate MSU. We know MSU players hate Michigan. Both teams still control their own destiny for winning the B1G. 

The general demeanor on the board seems to be that MSU was lucky to beat PSU, didn't look great in their opener against Utah St, and don't have a great chance of winning this weekend. So, let's play devil's advocate:

Why will MSU beat Michigan this weekend?

1. Michigan will be on the road against a ranked team. [Input here the record of Michigan/Harbaugh on the road against ranked teams].

2. Harbaugh vs Dantonio: Harbaugh is 1-2 vs MSU, and Dantonio is 8-2 in the last 10 vs Michigan and is 8-3 in his career at MSU vs Michigan.

3. MSU has the #21 overall Defense according to S&P+, the best Michigan has seen since week 1 vs ND. That defense includes Dowell and Bachie at LB, and Williams/Panasiuk/Willekes in the front 7; the best front 7 Michigan has seen since ND. The defense is also ranked #9 on ESPNs FPI.

4. Although not much of a runner this season (Lewerke only has 83 yards on 55 carries this year; 1.5ypc), he had 61 yards on 15 carries and a TD last year against Michigan, and 24 yards on 3 carries the year before, before he exited with an injury. 

5. Felton Davis is a nightmare matchup, at 6'4" 200lbs. He has 474 yards receiving with 4 TDs, including the game winning score vs PSU. He also has 50 rushing yards and a rushing TD (relevant because Michigan gave up two chunk plays to Wisconsin WRs on running plays to the edges).

Anything else? Add your Devil's Advocate thoughts in the comments. This isn't the thread to state why Michigan will win, that will happen in almost every other thread between now and kick off. This thread is to list/vent/explain why you are nervous, what MSU can do to beat Michigan, etc. 



October 15th, 2018 at 1:56 PM ^

MSU has a very good FG kicker in Matt Coughlin. IF they are able to limit Michigan offensively, solid special teams play MAY be in MSU's favor?

I'm choosing optimism though.

Michigan wins 31 - 10.

Go Blue.


October 15th, 2018 at 2:11 PM ^

Same. No matter how much better we are on paper or how much more talent we have, Mork's MSU always finds a way to make it a game and they often win. I don't know if it's because we play scared or because this is MSU's super bowl or some combo of the two, but it's either going to be a butt clenching, ugly win or another defeat


October 15th, 2018 at 3:14 PM ^

" I don't know if it's because we play scared or because this is MSU's super bowl or some combo of the two,"

Maybe it's because the Spartans generally have more talent than is commonly assumed, and/or that talent is coached better than ours has been.



October 15th, 2018 at 5:14 PM ^

People keep bringing up luck as though it's the primary explainer of why they've been beating us. 

There's no doubt that "luck" has aided them in their past two victories over us—they certainly didn't make our punter fumble a snap nor did they bring in the monsoon last year—but those two instances of "luck" were relevant because they were keeping the games close to begin with. 

In 2015, MSU outgained us 386 to 230, and had 20 first downs to our 10. We rushed for all of 87 yds (before sack yardage deduction) for 1.9 yds per attempt. That's hardly an indication we were the demonstrably better team that some have alleged we were that day.

As for last year, we turned the ball over twice in the first half, and MSU led 14-3 when the monsoon hit. Even if the rain had never come, our issues at QB and in the OL would have made a comeback a really iffy proposition.

They've just been the better team more often than not over the past decade. It's weird and more than a little pathetic that so many UM fans just can't accept it.

I've wondered if this refusal to take Sparty seriously has extended to our players as well. The notion that MSU "just wants it more" led to the idiot spike-planting thing, as though being fired up was a replacement for playing well. Hype over substance, a perfect embodiment of the Hoke/Brandon era.



October 16th, 2018 at 12:22 AM ^

Man I can't upvote you enough.  I wish more of the Michigan fan base thought rationally like this.

It's OK to hate and respect your rival at the same time.  We sound like whiny pansies when we say "they got lucky in a rainstorm".  Guess what?  We both played in the same rain.

This of course can all be quelled for the next 365 days if we take care of business and smash them like we supposed to.  And when I say smash, I don't mean come out flat and pussified like we always do on the road.  I want a start like 97 Penn State.  Defense goes nuts on first drive and we go up 7-0 on first possession.


October 15th, 2018 at 1:58 PM ^

I think M rushing is legit. We will control clock and be able to rush reasonably ok with our vsried approaches and zone read on these guys with opportunistic passing and get the win. If MSU luck reverts they may also throw an interception which M will cash in. 

I would say that Lewerke to Davis connection is better than any M has (Shea to...?). This is the only aspect where MSU has an edge. It's slightly unfortunate and also no avoidable as Shea hasn't worked with receivers for whole season and lack of Tarik black. 

Hope to see an M win. I'm optimistic about our chances. 


October 15th, 2018 at 3:08 PM ^

All great points.

I think the Patterson to Peoples-Jones and the Patterson to Gentry and even the Patterson to Nico Collins connection is pretty darn good, well over Lewerke to Davis. Home field advantage or not, I believe we faced a much better quarterback in Hornibrook last weekend than we will face in East Lansing. Also, can we say that Wisconsin has a much better rushing attack than MSU? How'd that work out for Taylor? Meaning, if we make MSU one dimensional, and stop the run game, I think we will strive. 

I just feel like we are going to roll in this game 30-17 Maize and Blue. Not because I am drinking the Kool-ade, but because MSU is actually pretty bad offensively. 



October 15th, 2018 at 2:01 PM ^

My pessimism comes purely from BPONE and the general bloodymindedness of the universe that seems to favor the scummy teams like MSU (especially MSU).  Statistically and talent-wise, there's no reason we shouldn't roll this game, but I've long ago stopped expecting things like logic, skill, and historical performance to hold any meaning in this game.  


October 15th, 2018 at 2:02 PM ^

Here's why (and it has nothing to do with fancy stats).  Because they legitimately, honestly, truly DO hate us.   They HATE US.  We represent everything they are not and never will be: well respected academics, national prestige, football greatness for over a century, fantastic college town (eat shit Scott Paterno-you know it is) and the list goes on and on.   So the game this Saturday is their B1G Championship, their Super Bowl, their whatever you want to call it all rolled into one. 

So we will get their absolute BEST punch.  Their best plays.  Their best effort.   For years prior to Dantonio we got all that and it wasnt enough.  But the combination of incompetence of RR and Hoke couple with the weird shit happening to Harbaugh has given them confidence that they can and will beat us.   Couple raw hate with confidence and it will be a tough fight next Saturday.

I've heard it said MSU would rather go 1-10 and beat Michigan than go 10-1 and lose to us.   I believe that is absolutely true.  I still think we're gonna win but that's why you never overlook those assholes.


October 15th, 2018 at 2:28 PM ^

Don't forget that State fights dirty. They will hit the QB just in time to not draw the foul. They will hold and interfere and dare the refs to call it every time. They will use hands to the face, eye gouges in the pileup, and head shots when tackling.

We've seen it for years: they want to be "physical", but don't know how to define that separate from "violent". Under Narduzzi, they could still have a solid defensive scheme while doing so, but now...?

So yes, I'm concerned that part of MSU's strategy will be to knock as many U of M players into next week as possible with as many head shots as they can. Because it always is.

Fuck State.


October 15th, 2018 at 3:05 PM ^

Outside of the eye gouging and what not, we kind of do the same thing and I it isn't a bad thing.  Bush is an intimidator.  Hudson as well.  They smash the QB when blitzing.  Our DBs are very handsy, and have good technique to make sure it isn't PI.  

For the game I fear a few things:  the phantom targeting call on Bush or Hudson; bad weather; overconfidence from the players; and an unwavering commitment to the power run game.  If none of those things happen or if most don't happen, we should come out with a W.



October 15th, 2018 at 4:16 PM ^

They should be feisty.  No matter what good they accomplish, all they ever hear about is:

2-10 against ranked teams

1-5 against "rivals"

No championships

Can't win on the road, etc....

The media has spent a considerable amount of time painting Michigan under Harbaugh as a Paper Tiger, and we've done little on the field to refute that.  The only way to silence the critics to deliver wins.  MSU is overmatched against us, we need to perform like it on Saturday.


October 15th, 2018 at 2:03 PM ^

I still just don't quite trust this year's team.   Dantonio has had Michigan's number and MSU treats this game as a personal Super Bowl.  

Michigan played poorly in 3 of its 7 games this season, so consistency is an issue.

Michigan has been a heavily penalized team so far this year, which is another concern.  

MSU has the nation's #1 run defense and Michigan's passing game was inexplicably weak against a heavily depleted Wisconsin secondary.   If we can't effectively pass against MSU we will be in trouble.  

MSU seems to get every conceivable break when playing Michigan.

No doubt Michigan is the better team, but this might be a bad match up.  Michigan has some demons that need to be excorsized in this game.  


October 16th, 2018 at 12:13 AM ^

Come on, that's a little disingenuous. Our passing attack was not that good so we relied on our running game. The notion that we were straight blowin them out all game is false. It was 13-7 pretty much midway through the 3rd quarter and then 21-7 in the 4th. We played very well but to say "we didn't need to pass" is simply wrong.


October 15th, 2018 at 2:04 PM ^

Asking for BPONE comments. Ok, I'll bite:

Dantonio is 10-0 ATS vs Michigan, i.e. MSU always plays better than expected. 

In the two road games so far this year, Michigan has come out flat. Flatter than flat. Both Northwestern and Notre Dame jumped out to big leads in the first 20 minutes. A theme throughout Harbaugh's tenure (and Hoke's, and RR's).  

If UM can survive the first 20 minutes, tied or with the lead then UM has an excellent chance at winning.

Non-BPONE take: There isn't a single player on MSU's roster that I would take over Michigan's player. Bachie is great but I wouldn't trade him for Bush, if I could put him in place of Gil/Ross, I would, but that's it.