MSU vs. Northwestern Scouting Report and Prediction

Hondo S. Carpenter

 

The Spartans will not be a good guest when they visit the Wildcats on Saturday.
The Spartans will not be a good guest when they visit the Wildcats on Saturday.

Scouting Report and Prediction: MSU vs. Northwestern

A look at this week’s opponent…

The Wildcats are a good football team with the most underrated coach in all of college football. They are highly intelligent and disciplined and are a group of great people (coaches and players) on and off the field.

When MSU has the ball…

The Wildcats traditionally have a stout defense dating back to when their head coach Pat Fitzgerald was a player, but this year they are not as they once were. Last season in the high cathedral of the Spartan Nation, Spartan Stadium, the Spartans played poorly for the entire first half and parts of the fourth quarter and they still scored 24 points.

The Cats will get a full dose of pound green pound. If they take the approach of the Illini and pack the box to stop the run, the Spartans will go to the air. I was perplexed last season when the Spartan coaches failed to utilize the tight end against the Cats. They are susceptible to the big TE hybrid offensive lineman, and they were essentially non-existent for most of the game.

The Spartans will be able to run the ball on Saturday, and when the Cats stack the box I hope to see better utilization of the TE. The Wildcats can’t stop the MSU offense. There is no doubt of that. The Spartans are the best offense the Cats have faced this season

The Cats are not the best, or nowhere near, the best defense the Spartans have faced. The Spartans will be able to score points and move the ball and as much as Spartans fans get tired of hearing it, the balanced attack will once again be key to the Spartans.

When MSU is on defense…

The Spartans had a great game plan last year. They kept the Wildcat receivers in front of them and did a superb job of tackling at the point of attack. The Spartan offense scored 24 points last year and didn’t have a good game. The Wildcats scored 14 points and the Spartan defense did have a good game.

This year the Wildcat offense is not as good and the Spartan defense is better. The Wildcats are great at the dink and dunk (count how many times you hear that phrase in the next 48 hours), but they are not as good of a running team.

The Spartans have performed admirably the last three games and all three of those offenses were better than the Cats. They will score points, but they won’t overwhelm this Spartan defense.

The Spartans ability to get pressure with their front four is a big key on Saturday. Northwestern struggles running the ball, if MSU can use the front four and out seven back this will be a rout. Remember the Spartans want to blitz when they want and not when they have to. 

Intangibles…

The Spartans lose this game if they make dumb mistakes and penalties and allow the Wildcats in the game. I don’t see that. This team is on a mission and the Cats are not good enough to stop the mission.

Dan Conroy…Mr. Perfect will be called upon on Saturday and he has shown me no reason to doubt him at all. At some point this season he will miss one. No one is perfect, and when he does can he recover emotionally? My bet is on the youngster, but it is an intangible. (This is the third week I have wrote this)

Some early mistakes can give the Wildcats momentum and MSU needs to drop the hammer early and keep it down. They need to just take the bull by the horns and dominate this game.

Coming into the season I thought MSU would lose this game. MSU has had several young players that are very talented play better than I thought they would this early. The Wildcats are not as good on defense or in the running attack as I thought they would be and that changes my preseason prediction.

Prediction…

When Mark Dantonio and Ken Mannie told me this summer that this team was special some pundits scoffed. They were right. When was the last time that the Spartans had a 20 point winning margin like they did last week and the Spartan Nation thought they didn’t play well?

I am not sold that the Spartans can go into Iowa City next week and win, but this is not next week. The Spartans are a better team than the Wildcats this week and that is what matters.

I know that the pundits are calling this an upset special and if the Spartans are complacent they can lose. They won’t. MSU is on a mission. They are on fire, they are hungry, and they refuse to lose.

The Spartans roll on Saturday and possibly move into the top five in the polls on Sunday. Make it 38-17. 

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