Rush Offense vs. MSU Rush Defense
Michigan is #17 in rushing offense with 233 yards/game. As you probably could have guess, Denard Robinson leads the team in rushing; he gets 134 yards/game himself and is the nation's fourth-best rusher. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (46 yards/game) is feeling a push from backup Thomas Rawls, who has gained 174 yards and score 2 touchdowns on just 25 carries, albeit mostly in mop-up duty. Meanwhile, the Spartans are #8 in the country against the run and give up just 91 yards/game. There's a bit of turmoil on their defense, though, because starting linebacker and captain Chris Norman was benched last week in favor of Taiwan Jones, and Kurtis Drummond was promoted to the starting role at safety, because of underperformance on their parts. Linebacker Max Bullough leads the team with 58 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. Defensive ends Marcus Rush and William Gholston are both somewhat disruptive forces at defensive end, but the defensive tackles are mediocre.
Pass Offense vs. MSU Pass Defense
The Spartans have the #12 pass efficiency defense and the #17 pass defense, giving up just over 178 yards/game. Clearly, this is not because teams are having so much success in the running game that they don't have to pass. The Spartans are legitimately good. In the last couple games, Michigan has really committed to its running game and essentially given up on hoping that Denard Robinson's passing can win games for them. The Wolverines will use play action passes and get guys like Jeremy Gallon and Devin Funchess open that way. The Spartans have a couple solid corners, and their front seven will get some pressure if Michigan is forced into obvious passing situations, so Michigan will have to stay on schedule by running the ball. No MSU player has more than one interception, but Johnny Adams is considered by some to be the conference's best corner.
Advantage: Michigan State
Rush Defense vs. MSU Rush Offense
The Wolverines are #55 in rush defense and give up 148 yards/game, but a huge chunk of those yards were piled up by Alabama and Air Force in the first couple weeks. In the last three games, Michigan has given up 94, 56, and 105 yards on the ground. The linebackers are rounding into form, and nose tackle Quinton Washington has started to assert himself as a bit of a space eater up the middle. The Spartans are surprisingly 84th in the nation running the ball as a team; they get 144 yards/game, but workhorse tailback Le'veon Bell gets 130 of those each week. Michigan State's offensive line has been battered and wasn't great to begin with, and that's beginning to show. Bell will gain some yards because he breaks tackles, but this likely won't be one of his better rushing days.
Pass Defense vs. MSU Pass Offense
The Spartans have thrown for 236 yards/game so far this season, but leading receiver Dion Sims might miss the game due to injury; he averages 4 receptions and 52 yards/game. Keith Mumphery and Aaron Burbridge have both stepped up in recent weeks, and those are a couple guys who can run after the catch. Michigan's performance last week against Illinois jumped them all the way up to #3 nationally in passing yards allowed per game (139), but the Wolverines are #95 in sacks and don't have great cover guys on the outside; however, they put pressure on quarterbacks by slanting linemen and sending guys from the back seven. Quarterbacks can get rid of the ball, but they're often in a hurry to do so.
- Michigan recruited WR De'Anthony Arnett, WR Aaron Burbridge, RB Larry Caper, LB Ed Davis, S Kurtis Drummond, DE William Gholston, DT Tyler Hoover, WR Monty Madaris, LB Chris Norman, DE Marcus Rush, TE Dion Sims, and DE Lawrence Thomas.
- LS Taybor Pepper was once committed to Michigan as a preferred walk-on, but then signed with MSU after they offered a him a scholarship.
- Michigan plays their most emotional game of the year.
- Denard Robinson reverses his trend of playing poorly against Michigan State, but still throws a pick.
- Aaron Burbridge burns Michigan once or twice for big plays.
- Le'veon Bell has a forgettable game.
- Michigan 24, Michigan State 17
A Look Back . . .