MSU Rush Defense Is More Than Just "Impressive"

MSU Rush Defense Is More Than Just "Impressive"

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MSU Rush Defense Is More Than Just "Impressive"

Michigan State’s rushing defense is so good that it’s almost become an afterthought. The way the Spartans have shut down the run is as impressive as any other component of this program – or any other program.

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Sometimes, people and teams and players do things so well that the performance is almost taken for granted.

With all of the concerns that so many fans and pundits are focused on when wondering why Michigan State isn’t a Top 5 team right now, an amazing ongoing performance continues to be a simple, standard part of Spartan football.

The Michigan State defense against the run isn’t just “good” in the way that Dave Corzine was good with the set shot from fifteen feet.

The Spartans aren’t just “really good” against the run in the way that Big Trouble In Little China is a really good motion picture.

Michigan State is #1 against the run in the nation after four games and even that ranking doesn’t tell the whole story.

Even within the state of Michigan, there are plenty of people (most people?) who want to go on and on and on and on and on about the defense of another football team in the state of Michigan.

Few have stopped to consider the following as Michigan State (3-1, 1-0 in the Big Ten) prepares to take on the 1-3 Northwestern Wildcats this Saturday at Spartan Stadium –

  • The Michigan State defense is allowing 40.3 yards per game through four games.
  • The team that is #2 in rushing defense is San Diego State and the Aztecs are allowing 64 yards a game – a full 24 yards behind Michigan State.
  • Michigan State has held seven straight opponents to under 100 yards rushing.

  • The Spartans have held opponents to less than 100 yards 77 times during the Dantonio Era – the most throughout the Big Ten ever since Dantonio became head coach before the 2007 season.
  • There is only one school in the nation that has had more games of holding the opponent to less than 100 yards than Michigan State during the Dantonio Era – Alabama has done it 103 times.

The point?

Michigan State has been able to win championships, defeat rivals, win huge games, reach and win major bowls, and earn a spot in the College Football Playoff on the shoulders of a rush defense that is as dependable as a plate of my grandmother’s meatloaf.

The Spartan secondary is only going to improve as this season progresses – that’s what secondaries with the talent that the Spartans have do.

There will be big plays that the Spartan defense will allow from time to time.

But if a team can line up and plow over the Michigan State defense by running the ball, then the Spartans will just need to tip their caps to that team.

And as long as the defense is able to shut down the running games of opponents – which it’s done for a decade now – Michigan State is going to be able to line up and have a shot against just about anybody.

This specific Spartan strength isn’t just something that’s “interesting” or “impressive.”

It’s a foundational element that can allow this team to win any game it plays.

This week, against Northwestern, if the Spartan defense can limit Northwestern to less than 100 yards on the ground and force the Wildcats to rely solely on the crossing routes and underneath passing game, it’s reasonable to think that Michigan State’s ability to defend that passing game effectively and control the clock is a recipe for Green & White success.

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