Much has been made of MSUâ€™s 4-1 start. Four wins, one narrow loss, Iâ€™d say that the metamorphosis I have talked about in previous articles is well underway. Michigan State headed to Madison last weekend and played four quarters of solid football with top ten-ranked Wisconsin. Iâ€™m impressed. Do I think that this is year will prove to be the Spartans of old? No, this team will not collapse. Its leader is too calm, too collected, too prepared and he runs the tight ship we have yearned to see in East Lansing for years. Now people will discount this hypothetical question that I am about to pose. It will be discounted because many will point to Dantonioâ€™s tutelage under Jim Tressel and the invaluable head coaching experience he got at Cincinnati. What if MSU would have taken a gamble and made Dantonio the interim coach for the Citrus Bowl instead of Bobby? What would this MSU program look like now?
I believe Dantonio has had a Big Ten football coaching pedigree for a long time. He certainly isnâ€™t an old man by any stretch, but he had the experience needed to succeed where Bobby Williams failed.
Michigan State will be a team that recovers quickly from the Wisconsin loss. Dantonio will have his troops ready. You can see it in the MSU coaching staff. They believe, theyâ€™ve got our kids believing and they have the Michigan State fans believing. Iâ€™m not predicting a blow out on Saturday, but Iâ€™m also not predicting an overly tight game either. Michigan State will take command of the game sometime in the middle of the second quarterâ€¦ early third quarter and run Northwestern and the clock into the ground. You can see the determination in our kidâ€™s faces. They lost the game last weekend in Madison, but harvested a great deal of confidence. I donâ€™t worry about MSU playing for four quarters anymore. I donâ€™t worry about huge defensive lapses. I donâ€™t worry about stupid errors on special teams and I donâ€™t worry about Hoyer when he takes a sack or two. I donâ€™t worry about big backs piling up yards against our defense. I donâ€™t worry about pressuring the quarterback or patching up the offensive line. I donâ€™t worry about our defensive backs being lined up in the correct position or whether weâ€™ll have eleven men on the field when we kick a field goal. That inexcusable rubbish is history. Heck, I donâ€™t really even worry about stupid penalties even though a couple quite probably cost us the game last weekend.
This MSU team is growing up right before our eyes. Weâ€™ll never know the extent that discipline was handed out to some key players that missed camp and games. We donâ€™t need too. You can see the result on the field. Dantonioâ€™s disciplinary process and tough love have mended the MSU patsy mentality. Look at the football Dantonioâ€™s staff is getting out of guys like SirD and TJ Williams. Iâ€™m not sure that TJ Williams wonâ€™t play corner in the NFL someday. I like the way these guys have responded. It tells me that this team believes and has bought in the Dantonio model. I havenâ€™t seen an MSU player quit all year. I would have needed all of my fingers and toes in the Illinois game alone last season to count them all up.
Most writers are predicting a home win on Saturday. Weâ€™ll send two tailbacks over the century mark this weekend and Hoyer will throw for a solid 200+ yards. I called for a third receiving threat last weekend and Mark Dell delivered. As teams double cover Thomas throughout the remaining season, Dell will become a bigger factor. I donâ€™t often make bold predictions, but Iâ€™ll throw my reputation on the line. Make itâ€¦ Michigan State 41, Northwestern 24.