After a humiliating and heartbreaking home loss this past Saturday to Legends Division rival Iowa Hawkeyes, the Michigan State Spartans find themselves with no margin for error for the rest of the season if they want to travel to Pasadena. Michigan State dwells just above the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Legends division cellar, and in order to climb out, they’ll need to play their best game of the season against their biggest rival, the Michigan Wolverines, this Saturday. It would be hard enough to show resolve after the way Sparty collapsed in double overtime to Iowa, but the loss could not have come at a worse time.
The Wolverines are flying very high after two very impressive wins against the Purdue Boilermakers and Illinois Fighting Illini, combining to beat the two teams 89-13. Michigan has also cracked the Top 25 once again, showing that they have shaken off some rust from their early losses to Alabama and Notre Dame. Denard Robinson looks back to form and is utilizing all of his skills both through the air and on the ground. In fact, even with star running back Fitzgerald Toussaint back in the lineup for the past few games, Robinson has shown that he doesn’t need much assistance in the run game. His 69 yard scamper against Illinois last week left pundits reminiscing about Vince Young as he made defenders look foolish with his breakaway speed and lateral movements.
On the plus side, the Spartan defense has looked great for most of the season, receiving contributions from all eleven players. Even replacements have made an impact on the unit, as Taiwan Jones started his first game in place of the injured Chris Norman and really looked good. Walk on linebacker Kyler Elsworth made two very important plays with his increased role yesterday as well, stuffing Iowa on a third down and two and then following that with a sack on quarterback James Vandenberg. Furthermore, the Spartans already have experience this season against a mobile quarterback this season when they were eked out of a victory by the Ohio State Buckeyes and Braxton Miller. Not only do they have experience though, the Spartans were very well prepared and limited Miller’s yards on the ground.
Alas, there are a lot more questions than answers surrounding Michigan State football. There have been several injuries this season on both sides of the ball, none more so than the loss of star tight end Dion Sims. Two weeks ago, he was listed as “day-to-day” on the injury report, but when asked about his status for the Michigan game, head coach Mark Dantonio told the media that he “. . . can’t talk about injuries right now." Sims is hands down the best pass catcher on a 2012 Spartans team that is notorious for drops; however, that may not even be his most valuable asset considering how good of a blocker he can be on the outside for Le’Veon Bell.
Whatever is affecting the Spartans, they must figure it out before heading in to a hostile environment at the Big House this weekend. Otherwise, the curse of the “Little Brother” that has plagued the Wolverines will not be enough to see the Spartans through to their sixth straight win against their most bitter rival.
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