Friday, October 21, 2011

Michigan State does have a good chance of beating Wisconsin - this is why

I would expect Wisconsin to beat Michigan State Saturday night. As good as quarterback Scott Tolzien was for the Badgers in the past, Russell Wilson is just that much better. He is an accurate passer and makes more plays outside the pocket. He's very savvy.
He was let go by North Carolina State, despite being arguably the ACC's best all-around player for three years, because he wanted to continue his floundering minor league baseball career. He made the right choice coming to Wisconsin. He is emerging as a Heisman Trophy candidate behind what is being billed as the best offensive line in the nation.
But I do think it is going a tight game. I don't think Wisconsin is going to romp over the Spartans like the Badgers did to Nebraska. For one thing, the game is in East Lansing at night. The atmosphere will be supercharged. There is no surprise factor here. These two teams have played each other very competitively the last three years.
And in the two Michigan State victories, in 2008 and last season, the major factor was the quickness of MSU's defensive line. Wisconsin's offensive line has gotten a lot of notoriety, and deservedly so. Wisconsin has become "Offensive Line U" because of its propensity to develop big, strong NFL-caliber lineman. They average of 320 pounds per lineman this season.
But the Spartans have a strong defensive front that is mobile. Spartans' defensive tackle Jerel Worthy is going to play in the NFL. How soon he gets selected in the NFL Draft could be determined by how well he plays in this much-viewed game. Kevin Pickelman has also been strong inside. Linebacker Denicos Allen is an excellent edge rusher. State's secondary has played well, too. Their entire defense has. Last year, in particular, the Spartans were just a little quicker in every way than the Badgers, but especially upfront both sides of the ball.
The Spartans should be able to run the effectively. Their best bet to have a big game will be Edwin Baker. If the Badgers have an Achilles Heel, it's their defensive line.
And if the Spartans lose this game, it'll probably be because Wisconsin does, indeed, have an exceptional team this year. If it's remotely a typical Badger team, the Spartans will win this game.
In addition to Wilson, Badgers have this perfect blend at running back with Montee Ball and James White, and a very deep receiving corps led by Nick Toon. The Badgers have more and better skill position players on both sides of the ball than usual.


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