By Adam Biggers
With Michigan vs. Michigan State just a day away, it's time for me to lay out a few predictions of the bold variety.
If you listened to the podcast this week, you already know that I guaranteed a Spartans win, taking a page out of the Book of Dennis Fithian, who went several steps further in the bold direction by guaranteeing a Michigan win over Penn State two weeks ago.
And it happened, 18-13.
But Michigan State's favored by more than two touchdowns. So I guess I'm not being so bold by calling a lopsided Spartans victory. Worth noting: I've never felt more confident about a game than I do about this one.
Now, that's coming from a guy who thought Michigan could go 9-3 this year. My fault. I expected a lot in Brady Hoke's fourth year, and I expected a leap in player development. Guys grew up, or so coaches said over the summer, namely defensive coordinator Greg Mattison.
For the record, I tabbed the Spartans as a 10-2 team this season.
Back to the predictions.
Amp Campbell, a legendary Spartans cornerback, predicted 45-14, while Tony Banks, one of the greatest Spartans QBs, hinted at something similar. I think. When asked about how the rivalry's changed, he said, laughing, "What rivalry? With Wisconsin?!" So I'm assuming that he's taking Michigan State, by a lot, tomorrow.
Just a wild guess.
I've been comfortable with 33-12 for the past week or so, and I'm sticking to it.
Spartans running back Jeremy Langford has an 11-game, 100-yard streak going right now. He's tied with Penn State's Curtis Enis, who set the Big Ten's mark starting in 1996 and ending in 1997.
Now that the history's been covered, let's get to the future. Langford gets No. 12. He'll join Minnesota's David Cobb as the only guy to gash the Wolverines' superb run defense, which gave up 183 yards to Cobb but has held everyone else to inches.
Connor Cook is a big-game quarterback. Say what you will about his mechanics and decision-making ability--he still gets the job done. He's lost twice as a starter.
And say what you will about this year's rivalry--it's still Michigan vs. Michigan State. Cook might mess around and play like he did in the Rose Bowl. That's the best-case scenario for Mark Dantonio, and it's the worst-case for Brady Hoke.
I can see Cook throwing for 270 and three touchdowns, with at least one of them being a long ball to Tony Lippett, a receiver who is playing like the best in the league right now, according to Hoke.
Now flip it to Devin Gardner, who probably won't have a great deal of success. Prior to Nov. 2, 2013, he was 9-3 as a starter. Since that 29-6 loss, he's won just four of 10 starts.
Big game. Big game. Big game. I can't say that enough. Gardner's played it cool this week, but I'm willing wager that he's burning inside. He either really wants to play and prove something, or he really wants to get it over.
Michigan won't rush for more than 70 yards. The Wolverines were barely starting to run the ball with Derrick Green, who was lost for the season after breaking his clavicle during a 26-24 loss to Rutgers. DeVeon Smith is a great back who can't get started. Production-wise, he's not even close to where he should be.
Michigan State goes plus-2 in the turnover department.
Michigan State secondary gives up two "big" plays--you know, the 20-yarders and better. Michigan is capable of racking up at least a couple of large gains due to Devin Funchess, Jake Butt and Amara Darboh. One of those guys will have a spectacular catch or two, but that's about it.
Gardner gets sacked at least four times. Cook gets sacked once, and that'll be by either Frank Clark, Taco Charlton or Joe Bolden.
Matt Wile scores all of Michigan's points. Four field goals, two each half.
My prediction of 33-12 will be wrong. Could be worse than that.
This game might be close for about a quarter.
But Michigan can't keep its defense off the field, and its offense can't score. Add in the overall stats that tip this thing unanimously in the Spartans' direction, and you have the makings of a classical tail-whipping.
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