Don’t Count Out The Spartans On Saturday
Make no mistake – Michigan State won’t roll over this Saturday when it pays a visit to James Franklin’s No. 7 squad.
Last year, you will remember (with agony) that Michigan State welcomed Penn State to East Lansing, ultimately putting a 55-16 whooping on the Nittany Lions. To add insult to injury, an offensive lineman even got on the scoreboard for the Spartans. I know, this Michigan State team is certainly not the same team that put a shellacking on last year’s Nittany Lions, but there is still reason for this young Penn State team to be cautious.
Michigan State still has talent all over the field. Running back L.J. Scott is looking hit 1,000 rushing yards on the season, so the Lions’ rushing defense will need to show up. Riley Bullough will anchor the Michigan State defense – a defense which held Ohio State to just 17 points last week. Michigan State is young, and perhaps too young to win, but they certainly have the talent to pull off an upset. D’Antonio’s Spartans also rank sixth in the Big Ten in passing, just behind Ohio State. They rank third in the Big Ten in passing defense, as well.
Michigan State has started to hit its stride very late in the season, which includes a 49-0 rout of Rutgers. Although Rutgers has been subpar by every measure this season, the 49-0 win is tantamount to the way Ohio State and our beloved Penn State blew Rutgers out. Also, as previously mentioned, Michigan State just came off an impressive game against Ohio State, losing only 17-16. If Mark D’Antonio had opted to kick an extra point instead of going for two late in the game, the Spartans might still be celebrating a wild upset.
Beyond Sparty’s recent form, D’Antonio’s squad still owns something of a psychological edge over Penn State. Michigan State has won the last three matchups between these two teams, two of which were in Beaver Stadium. James Franklin’s young and dynamic team will have to prove itself once again in what is perhaps the most important Penn State football game in the last five seasons. The weight of the game, combined with Michigan State’s recent success against the Nittany Lions, could make for a surprisingly tough matchup for the heavily-favored home team.
Of course, if Penn State wins and Michigan loses, Penn State will make its way to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship game. There are plenty of distractions for any team competing for a spot in the College Football Playoff. With so much on the line, James Franklin will need to keep his team focused on Michigan State, Michigan State, Michigan State…
This all is not to say that I expect Michigan State to leave Happy Valley with the Land Grant Trophy – I simply believe that a 3-8 record is not representative of what D’Antonio’s team is capable of. Beaver Stadium will need to be packed on Saturday, and the Nittany Lion faithful will hopefully come through and create a rowdy atmosphere on par with this year’s White Out.
Plenty of legendary lettermen will be in attendance, and if LaVar Arrington can make the game on Saturday, so can we!