Is Bucky Up For A Bruising When He Visits East Lansing?

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MSU may not be nice hosts on the field when Bucky comes a calling on Saturday to kick off the Big Ten season.  Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

MSU may not be nice hosts on the field when Bucky comes a calling on Saturday to kick off the Big Ten season. Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

The Big Ten season starts this weekend. We will find out quickly what our Spartans are made of. MSU’s 3:30 PM game against the Badgers promises to be a battle to remember. Both teams feature a fantastic running attack, good quarterbacking and physical defenses. Wisconsin and MSU’s similarities are striking. The game will be determined by field position and turnovers. I like our chances.

 

It wasn’t too many years ago that lining up against the likes of Wisconsin equaled a whipping. Barry Alvarez built the Badgers to last; the Bielema transition was largely seamless. The Badgers have been lining up with huge offensive lines and big punishing tailbacks for twenty years. This year is no different. The Badgers feature one of the best offensive lines in the country and All-Big Ten running back John Clay who checks in close to 250 pounds.

 

Not much has changed over the years at Wisconsin, but a lot has changed in East Lansing over the last four years. With Mark Dantonio’s arrival, Michigan State is built to compete and win this weekend. The next step in building a program is winning big games and winning them when they are close. Notre Dame was a good momentum builder, but Notre Dame was nowhere near the physical challenge the Badgers present.

 

When you line up against the Badgers, ya better have your chin strap buckled and count your molars before and after the game. They are the definition of a physical football team. This will be a real test for MSU’s front seven. For the first time in a number of years, MSU has the athletes to match up with Wiscy up front. This will be a great test for Gordon, Jones, Misch, Norman, Gardiner and Bullough. The linebacking depth will be key in this game.

 

I don’t think that Wisconsin’s defense can keep the MSU offense from scoring points. The only way MSU’s offense stalls is if MSU gets too conservative and too predictable. One of the biggest factors that I see going into this game revolves around Don Treadwell and his ability to get both the running and passing games in rhythm. I think Coach Dantonio needs to trust Coach Tread and let him do what he does, manage the offense. I am not worried about the offense’s ability at all.

 

Defensively, the Spartans need a pass rush. Someone at defensive end needs to get home. The athletes are there, but it is really a position of youth. The lone senior on the defensive line is DE Colin Neely. He shows flashes of greatness, but cannot do it alone. I am looking for Hoover, Freeman, Drone or Gholston to step up and start making noise. I don’t think Gholston deserves the pressure; true freshman shouldn’t be counted on in the trenches. Michigan State needs to get pressure with their front four if they are going to beat Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and PSU. The trend needs to change this weekend. It is a formidable task considering the talent on Wiscy’s offensive front.

 

Last year Wisconsin threw the ball to the tight end right up the seam. They butchered us throwing the ball to the tight end. We had no answer for it. I think this game will be different. Jones has improved his pass coverage ability and Gordon is a very solid pass defender. I like MSU’s chances limiting the Wisconsin ground attack. If this game is lopsided, it is because Wisconsin kills the MSU defense with play action.

 

Michigan State needs to play and win the big games. They won’t be perfect this season, but a win against Wisconsin would do a lot to set the table for a special season and have the program take a major step forward. MSU fans shouldn’t expect a win on Saturday, but should expect a quality effort against one of the nation’s better opponents. The energy will be sky high with Dantonio back in Spartan Stadium. I think this game will come down to a Dan Conroy field goal. Dan has picked up where Brett Swenson left off. Make it MSU 27, Bucky 24.