An early spin through MSU’s football season: Desperate Wolverines visit on Oct. 25

This is the eighth in a 12-day series looking at Michigan State’s opponents this football season and their chances against the Spartans.

Week 8: Michigan
Time and Date: TBA, Oct. 25
Venue: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing

Wolverines at a glance
Coach: Brady Hoke (fourth season, 26-13)
Last season: 7-6 overall; 3-5 Big Ten (5th, Legends Division)
Returning starters: 15 (seven offense, eight defense)

Preseason magazine predictions
Athlon: 8-4 overall, 5-3 Big Ten (4th, East Division); ranked No. 32 nationally
Lindy’s: 3rd Big Ten East; ranked No. 20
Sporting News: 3rd Big Ten East

Why they’ll beat the Spartans
“This is Michigan,” as Hoke once said. And there’s a ton of real talent behind that brand. After last season’s humbling and demoralizing thumping, how U-M views this rivalry differently than ever. Hoke’s job, the program’s sliding credibility, 2014 relevance — there’s a lot on the line for the Wolverines.

As a practical matter, this shouldn’t be a bad Michigan football team. Senior quarterback Devin Gardner was terrific at times last season, before he lost his confidence — partly his own inadequacies reading defenses, and more so the relentless pounding he took. Running back Derrick Green reported to camp out of shape a year ago, but he was still the top running back recruit in the country. If Green learned his lesson, he could be a ferocious downhill runner. And tight end-turned-wideout Devin Funchess is a game-changer as much as any pass-catcher in the Big Ten. Defensively, eight starters are back from a unit that was sound against the run the majority of last season.

Why they won’t
No matter how motivated and desperate Michigan becomes in this rivalry, I don’t think a Mark Dantonio coached team is ever going to get arrogant about its standing in this rivalry. Dantonio knows the rise of his program began with changing the tide against the Wolverines. From a football standpoint, Michigan lost so badly last year because its offensive line couldn’t hold up against a storied MSU defense having a defining moment. MSU’s defense may not be able to replicate Nov. 2, 2013, but it won’t matter if U-M’s offensive line is worse. The Wolverines O-line was porous, despite having two first-three-round NFL draft picks as its tackles.

Final analysis
At some point, U-M will even out this series a bit, maybe even win a couple or three in a row. And when it happens, the media will overreact and make proclamations, the trash-talk will switch sides, etc. — as is the nature of this sick-in-the-head rivalry. But this probably isn’t the year.

Previously …
A dangerous visit to Indiana on Oct. 18
Spartans look to avoid letdown at Purdue on Oct. 11
No easing into Big Ten play, as Huskers visit Oct. 4
Impressive new coach adds intrigue to Wyoming’s Sept. 27 visit
New coach, same EMU Eagles visit on Sept. 20
A telling test at Oregon on Sept. 6
Rose Bowl encore begins with Friday night lights vs. Jacksonville State on Aug. 29

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19 Responses to An early spin through MSU’s football season: Desperate Wolverines visit on Oct. 25

  1. avatar Erik says:

    I’m confused by the statement “At some point, U-M will even out this series a bit…” Does that mean Michigan will lose 35 years in a row to even the series up 68-68-8?

    • avatar AASparty says:

      well, since you want to go back in history, let’s start from 1953 when MSU joined the B1G and not dwell on national championships won between the Civil War and Prohibition…

      • avatar Erik says:

        Burn! Oh wait, Michigan still leads the series 35-24-2 since 1953. And are we only counting since ’53 for football, or should MSU stop saying it was established in 1855? State has absolutely had Michigan’s number lately and should be proud of that. My only point is “At some point, U-M will even out this series a bit” is indicative of State fan’s selective attention to history which is vindicated by the sentiment “let’s only count the games since 1953″.

      • avatar Frank says:

        Actually MSU joined the Big Ten in 1950. They weren’t “officially”fully integrated into the athletic schedule until 1953, but they still played UM those 3 years. So since MSU became a Big Ten institution in 1950, the series is 35-27-2, with UM still leading the series, but hardly running away with it, and the gap continues to close. Oh, and if you want to remember the good old leather helmet days and proud UM tradition, keep in mind they were cheaters and had paid non-students playing for their team.

  2. avatar Josh says:

    For everyone, UM or MSU fan consider this: UM was 23-2-3 in the first 28 meetings. This was before MSU was in the B10 and before there were and emphasis on sports in EL. So, yes, while you have a 35 game lead in the series understand that the series seems lopsided because UM was truly a Big Brother back then unlike the past 70 years. And yes, wins are wins, but understand the entire picture.

    • avatar AASparty says:

      well, another fun fact; from the years 1898 when the 2 schools started playing up to 1953, the game was played in Ann Arbor 40 times and in east Lansing 5, so there’s that…

  3. avatar Mike Hanley says:

    Lets also not forget the first 30 something games ever played between scUM & State were played AT the big house… That should have boasted a far bigger advantage in scUM’s win column. But State won almost half of those 30 games… Sooooooooo….

  4. avatar Big Jon G says:

    Wow Erik you are truly a loser. I love when fans bring up the “relevancy” of games that were played 60+ years ago. Boy that 1924 Michigan team was something, right? Great memories but irrelevant for modern days. Same goes with the MSU teams of the 1950s and 60s. Who cares? Go on chat room boards with Yankee fans, Celtics fans, UCLA basketball fans and Montreal hockey fans in relishing the “good old days.” What a loser.

    • avatar Erik says:

      I think how a team did in 1924 is relevant to their overall record.

      • avatar msu76 says:

        Quick: name a player from 1924. No looking it up on the internet.

      • avatar Spartan in Sparta says:

        Oh definitely…especially when so many of those victories in the past are against the likes of the Detroit Independents and the Stevens Institute. Also the Detroit Athletic Club and Ann Arbor High School, the Cleveland Athletic Club…the Michigan A.A., Grand Rapids High School… What I have personally enjoyed though is how the U of M lured Tom Harmon away from Michigan State where he played his first college season and PAID him to play at Michigan… So when Devin Gardner came to Spartan Stadium last year wearing ol Tom’s #98… well we just gave ol Tom a Big House Welcome Home … in East Lansing of course and we couldn’t stop ourselves from just wrapping our arms around ol #98… even if it was just Devin Gardner… it felt Goooooooood!!! Yup it did!

        • avatar Mark says:

          Tom Harmon played his first season at Michigan State? That’s news to me. I find no reference to this anywhere. Where did you find this information. (By the way, I’m an MSU fan).

  5. avatar Roger Elliott says:

    I hope the “Go Blue” sky writer comes back this year. Michigan is feeling the heat of mediocrity .

    gang GREEN Mashing machine!

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