Can Michigan State Stack Up?

Can Michigan State Stack Up?

Columnists

Can Michigan State Stack Up?

Does Michigan State have a shot against Penn State this Saturday?  Let’s dig in and see if there are any holes in the current Penn State machine…

Contact @crowleysullivan

Is Michigan State going to bother to get on the bus and arrive at Beaver Stadium in advance of the scheduled kickoff on Saturday against Penn State?

If the Spartans do choose to make it to the site of the game, will they then have the courage to suit up and actually go out and play the football game that’s scheduled to be played?

If Michigan State chooses to do these things and the Spartans are out on the field once play has begun, will they bother to demonstrate an interest in competing in the football game or will they just sort of stand around and let Penn State score lots and lots and lots of touchdowns and field goals (and maybe some safeties) since Michigan State, based on the prevailing wisdom, has no chance of winning this game?

Based on what The Experts are saying, the Michigan State season will continue its free fall while it barrels towards irrelevance with the potential for a decision to be made by Michigan State University to cancel the football program since the coaches and players – but mostly the coaches – have all become really, really bad at doing football.

Has anyone bothered to consider that maybe the game might be worth playing for Michigan State and maybe there are areas within the Penn State football team that have presented Penn State people with opportunities to yell about the sky falling over State College too?

Maybe Penn State Experts are looking at things that happened in the most recent game that the Nittany Lions played and they’re wondering if the Penn State coaches have become afflicted with strange brain diseases that have caused them to become really bad at doing football too.

Maybe – just maybe – Michigan State might have a shot at competing in this football game.

What are some of the dynamics that would give someone sitting at a typewriter while in his mother’s basement reason to be so crazy?

HANGOVERS CAUSE PROBLEMS FOR PEOPLE

Penn State is coming off of its well-analyzed, gut-wrenching 27-26 home loss to Ohio State.

The Nittany Lions had visions of James Franklin hoisting the College Football Playoff National Championship trophy dancing through their heads as the white out people were going bananas while Penn State built up a 26-14 lead over the Buckeyes.

Then, the roof caved in and Penn State people – particularly their Experts – sent out Twitters with CAPITAL LETTERS screaming and yelling about how the loss was UNACCEPTABLE and how the play calling was UNACCEPTABLE and how Penn State was probably never going to win another football game.

All normal and very rational, of course.

Last season, the Twitters with ALL CAPITAL LETTERS came out in full force after Penn State lost a very similar gut-wrencher to Ohio State.

Penn State reeled a bit after that loss last season.

Michigan State was a beneficiary of that reeling and the Spartans defeated Penn State for the third time in four seasons when Matt Coghlin drilled the game-winner at the gun after a 17-hour adventure through weather elements that were, according to some, unusual.

PENN STATE EXPERTS ARE CERTAIN OF FRANKLIN’S STUPIDITY 

James Franklin has taken a beating following the loss to Ohio State a couple of weekends ago, particularly due to the 4th down play call that effectively ended the game as Penn State was trying to drive for a possible game-winning field goal.

Sound familiar?

Penn State has had a bye-week that has, perhaps, helped the Nittany Lions get past the loss.

However, sometimes a loss like that lingers, if given the chance.

The bye-week has definitely given Penn State coaches and players the chance to review how the game against Ohio State got away from them.

There really isn’t much sugarcoating it – and the Penn State Experts aren’t sugarcoating it – the Nittany Lions collapsed in that fourth quarter against Ohio State after having built that 26-14 lead.

Granted – and very importantly – Penn State’s “collapse” came against Ohio State, one of the two or three best teams in the nation and not against Arizona State or Northwestern.

But, collapses can have a significant impact on a team no matter what the circumstances might be.

One thing that’s certain is that the bye-week has helped Penn State get a little healthier.

HAMLER BACK TO PROVIDE THE HEAVY HAMMER THAT MIGHT HAMMER THE SPARTANS

Redshirt freshman stud wide receiver KJ Hamler will be back on the field against Michigan State after sustaining a head injury from a targeting penalty.

Defensive end Shane Simmons, a former 5-star recruit, will be making his first appearance of the season against the Spartans after having to overcome a foot injury that’s kept him sidelined.

Simmons’s presence gives a shot in the arm to the Penn State defensive edge – and a needed shot in the arm, at that, after that part of Penn State’s defense appeared to wear down as Ohio State staged its comeback.

While Trace McSorley is the obvious field general and the straw that stirs the drink for Penn State and Miles Sanders has filled Saquon Barkley’s shoes more than admirably, it’s KJ Hamler who is Penn State’s bolt of lightning on offense so far this season.

Hamler is Penn State’s leading receiver through five games with 308 yards on 13 catches for an average of 23.69 yards per catch (that’s good enough for even The Experts to recognize).

Hamler’s average yards per catch (that 23.69 yard average which is, indeed, good) is fifth-best in the nation right now.

MCSORLEY, SANDERS NEED TO BE BOTTLED UP

Still, Michigan State needs to bottle up McSorely.

In two games against Michigan State, McSorley has run the ball 17 times and has gained only 15 yards.

Last week, though, McSorley tore apart the Ohio State defense by rushing for 175 yards.

Sanders, meanwhile, was averaging 123.8 yards rushing before the Ohio State game – he only gained 43 yards against the Buckeyes.

Based on the way Michigan State has been able to keep McSorley from running wild in the two previous matchups between the teams, there is reason to think that the Spartans might be able to keep McSorley in check.

And, while some are saying that Michigan State’s status as having the nation’s #1 defense against the run is “skewed” because teams are throwing the ball, the fact is that the Spartans are a Green & White brick wall against the run.

If a team is able to show that it can run against that brick wall, Michigan State might just have to tip its cap to whoever is able to do that.

Penn State is averaging 261 yards on the ground – Saturday will be the test to see if Michigan State’s rush defense is for real or if the Spartans will be forced to tip their caps to the Nittany Lions.

CAN THE SPARTANS PRESSURE, DISRUPT MCSORLEY?

There isn’t any escaping the reality that while Michigan State has bottled up McSorley on the ground in the last two seasons, he’s torched the Spartans through the air.

It’s hard to envision McSorley not surpassing 300 yards of passing against Michigan State’s struggling secondary for the third straight year.

CAN MICHIGAN STATE DO ANYTHING AGAINST PENN STATE’S DEFENSE?

Penn State’s defense has been stout in allowing 192 yards per game through the air and 161 yards per game on the ground.

It’s Penn State – the team is tough, well coached, fast, slightly angry, potentially rusty, potentially hungover, but healthier than it was two weeks ago, and playing at home.

Penn State should win this game – just ask The Experts.

But what are some questions that can, at the very least, be asked when taking a look at the possibility of a Michigan State victory?

TOUGH QUESTIONS, NOT A WHOLE LOT OF ANSWERS PRESENTLY

Can Michigan State’s offensive line be serviceable with the return of Cole Chewins and can that lead to the ability to put together some sustained drives?

Can Brian Lewerke avoid the mistakes he’s been making, particularly on key 3rd downs and in the redzone?

Can Michigan State contain McSorley on the ground and limit his ability to make big plays with his legs?

Can Michigan State put pressure on McSorley in passing situations to disrupt him enough so that big plays through the air aren’t occurring all throughout the afternoon?

Can Michigan State take the ball away from Penn State due to McSorley being pressured and, perhaps, making a poor decision or two?

Can Michigan State keep KJ Hammer from exploding for huge gainers all afternoon?

Is Michigan State’s rush defense for real and, if so, can it keep Miles Sanders from powering his way over and through the Spartans?

Does God exist and will we all find salvation upon each of our inevitable deaths?

That’s a lot of questions.

I’m too tired right now to try to answer them.

I’ll be back later to give it a shot, though.

Latest

More SpartansWire
Home