Could Saturday Be 1998 All Over Again?

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Saturday’s game against Ohio State is eerily reminiscent of 1998. Michigan State goes into Columbus this weekend unranked while OSU sits atop the polls. Ohio State is loaded at every position. They feature consistent quarterbacking, a high-octane receiver and two spectacular tailbacks. Ohio State’s defense features an All American middle linebacker much like they had in 1998 (Andy “The Big Cat” Katzenmoyer) with excellent play on the defensive line and in the secondary.

Michigan State features an Ohio quarterback with a big arm in Brian Hoyer. Strangely enough, Hoyer is a fourth year junior. They have a flashy back in Javon Ringer and a JC defensive end (Jonal Saint-Dic) that was unknown before the season started. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

The 1998 Michigan State team featured swearvin’ Sedrick Irvin at tailback, Ohio fourth year junior QB Bill Burke and JC transfer Julian Peterson at defensive end. Michigan State had the “little big man” with a bigger leg. Paul Edinger was a 5’8” place kicker from Florida. Much like Edinger, Brett Swenson is a Florida kicker standing 5’8” tall. Have you pulled out your sage and incense yet?

In 1998, MSU had a big, yet relatively unknown receiver in Plaxico Burress. Saturday Michigan State travels to Columbus with another preseason widely unknown big receiver, Devin Thomas. Anyone got a Weegie board?

You’ll love this; in 1998 MSU featured freshman punter Craig Jarrett. In 2007, MSU also features a freshman punter. His name is Aaron Bates. Call your astrologer; something has to be aligning in the cosmos.

The similarities are amazing. The talent pool heading into Ohio Stadium is similar to 1998. Can the Spartans upset #1 Ohio State again? Absolutely, these Spartans are capable of the upset. The stars will have to align perfectly like they did in 1998. I will be the first to pour a glass of green Kool-Aid on Saturday and shake my keys on every key third down.

If Michigan State is able to run the ball effectively and throw deep to Devin Thomas on play action, anything is possible. Michigan State sacked OSU’s Joe Germaine five times that year and Julian Peterson changed the game with his relentless pressure and his unwillingness to be blocked. If Saint-Dic and Baldwin are able to apply consistent pressure on obvious passing downs, MSU might just walk away with a victory on Saturday. They will need another five sacks to come away victorious. I am not going to declare an MSU victory this weekend. I will go out on a limb and say that they have a better than 20% chance to pull the unthinkable.

So grab your remote, burn some sage, wear some garlic cloves like a Buckeye necklace and look out for black cats crossing your path. It is Michigan State and OSU in Columbus. Ohio State is #1 and Buckeye fans will tell you MSU is no one. Hold that thought… don’t say it out loud, don’t even mumble the words of an upset in the break room or anywhere near the water cooler this week. Just quietly believe ‘cause stranger things have happened.