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Can Northwestern's Offense Overpower Michigan State's Defense?

Northwestern LT Peter Skoronski and WR Stephon Robinson share their insights on the Michigan State defensive squad.

To say there's bad blood between the Northwestern Wildcats and Michigan State Spartans. In the past four years, the Wildcats and Spartans have each won two games against each other, but the 2020 game is the most recent, and the one that stings the most for Northwestern. The Wildcats had a chance to go undefeated in the regular season, and lost to the Spartans 29-20 in East Lansing. Northwestern left tackle Peter Skoronski first felt the rivalry atmosphere last year, but knows how competitive it can be.

"This is a competitive rivalry with a competitive atmosphere," Skoronski said. "We remember what happened last year and we still feel like they took away our chance to be in the playoffs."  

Graduate Transfer receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. said that even though he wasn't on the team during the loss to Michigan State last year, he has developed the same need for "vengeance" as the rest of the players.

"I grew up watching Michigan State in the Big Ten, so it's an important game for me," Robinson said. "Plus it's a primetime game, I don't know why else I wouldn't be turned up."

Skoronski says that the Wildcats will be prepared for whatever the Spartans throw at Northwestern. That includes a defense that has a full offseason under Head Coach Mel Tucker and Scottie Hazelton. The Spartans new 4-2-5 defense has the potential to be lethal in the B1G, and Skoronski isn't taking them lightly.

"They [Michigan State] are a really strong team, with all of their guys back up front," Skoronski said. "They got after us a bit last year so I have to be prepared and disciplined."

Robinson noted how physical Michigan State defensive backs are when asked about what he sees of the Spartans on film.

"[Michigan State] tries to get hands on[the receiver] at the line of scrimmage, so we have to focus on working the top of our routes and using our hands at the top of routes," Robinson said.

Skoronski said this discipline goes along the entire offensive line, and communicating well with each other, which will lead to better execution. In last year's tilt, Northwestern turned the ball over four times, leading to 12 Spartan points. Skoronski, Robinson and the rest of the Wildcats will look to change that on Friday. 

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