Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/15/14

After a brutal stretch of games, the Michigan State Spartans will get exactly what they need when the lowly Minnesota Gophers make a visit to East Lansing.

The Gophers have won two games this season by a total of just seven points. One of those wins did come against Iowa, but the other against a MAC opponent, Miami (Ohio). The Spartans need a boost after being downed 24-3 against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln.

The defense is still doing just fine, but the offense could use a boost, and the Gophers are the perfect team to give them that booth. Their 104th ranking in points against is just one of many terrible defensive statistics.

Instead of giving the keys to the game, I will give just one; play Spartan football. If the Spartans play their game and be physical with Minnesota, then there should be absolutely no chance for the Gophers in this one. Instead, let’s take a look at some intriguing facts or storylines heading into Saturday.

  • This game will be the 44th meeting between the Spartans and Gophers  The Spartans have a 26-17 edge in the all-time series, and a 15-6 record in games played in East Lansing. Michigan State has won 20 of the last 26 meetings.
  • The Spartans are ranked 17th in the Bowl Championship Series Standings, 25th in the Associated Press Poll and 16th in the USA TODAY Poll. The Spartans have been ranked in 23 consecutive USA TODAY Polls, the longest in program history.
  • The Spartans rank 14th nationally and 2nd in interceptions with 11. Junior safety Isaiah Lewis leads the Big Ten and ranks tied for seventh in the nation with four interceptions. Lewis returned an interception against Central Michigan, and of course the big one against Michigan making him just one of six players in the FBS to return two interceptions for touchdowns this season.

Isaiah Lewis has has a breakout year for the Spartans (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • The defense doesn’t stop with interceptions; Michigan State leads the Big Ten in rushing defense (101.5 yards per game), passing defense (127.3 ypg.), pass efficiency defense (95.3 rating) and total defense (228.8 ypg.). The Spartans also rank first in the country in pass defense, second in total defense, third in pass efficiency defense, and sixth in scoring defense. This is certainly a championship caliber defense with those types of numbers.
  • The 2011 senior class at MSU has a combined record of 32-15. That puts them at second place for most victories ever recorded by a senior class in school history. The record 33 was set by last year’s senior class. Fans will get to witness a piece of Spartan history of the team can do what they’re supposed to, and beat Minnesota.
  • Jerel Worthy, who was projected as a top 5 draft pick by many before the season started, continues to get national recognition. The junior defensive tackle has been named one of the 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award (college lineman of the year) and one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year).

With the year Jerel Worthy is having, one can only wonder if he'll return for his senior season. (Photo By: Jon Coffey/isportsweb.com)

  • Sophomore defensive end came out of his one-game suspension with fury. Gholston recorded a career high 15 tackles to go along with 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack. The 15 tackles match a single game high for the Spartans this season.
  • In beating Michigan and Wisconsin in consecutive weeks, the Spartans became the first team to beat consecutive opponents with 6-0 or better overall records in Big Ten Conference games.
  • The Spartans also joined Penn State as the only teams ever to go 3-0 against Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan in a three-game span.

The Spartans should win Saturday, and win big. If the Spartans don’t win people around the nation including myself will be absolutely flummoxed. Expect the Spartans to make history with the 33rd win for this senior class.

Prediction: Gophers 10 Spartans 34


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