Michigan State vs Oregon - Redbox Bowl Game Prediction

Michigan State vs Oregon - Redbox Bowl Game Prediction

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Michigan State vs Oregon - Redbox Bowl Game Prediction

SpartansWire has examined Oregon’s offense and defense while providing initial thoughts about how the Spartans matchup with the units. What’s going to happen on Monday when Michigan State and the Ducks square off in the Redbox Bowl?

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This might not really be all that complicated.

Michigan State entered the 2018 season with the highest of expectations thanks to a collection of returning starters and contributors from the 2017 team that finished 10-3 and looked good doing it.

The Spartans had a defense that had finished the 2017 season with the nation’s #2 unit against the run.

In 2018, the unit improved on that mark by finishing with the nation’s #1 unit against the run.

The pass defense was shaky at the beginning of the season – at least partially due to the absence of the injured Josiah Scott.

By the time the regular season was finished, the Spartans’ pass defense had locked itself in and managed to limit offenses to 138.8 yards through the air in the final four games of the season (Maryland, Ohio State, Nebraska, Rutgers).

I think Ohio State finished with 976 yards of passing offense in its final regular season game – Michigan State limited Dwayne Haskins and the Buckeyes to 227 yards and a touchdown in the Spartans’ 26-6 loss.

The Michigan State passing defense ended up 64th in the nation – and, more importantly, the Spartans finished the 2018 season with the nation’s 14th best overall defense.

The defense is possibly better than than anyone out there even thinks it is.

For right now, let’s forget about whether Kenny Willekes will choose to enter the NFL Draft – on Monday, he’ll be terrorizing the Ducks.

Oregon has a future NFL star at quarterback – the 6’6″, 233 pound Justin Herbert is a three-year starter who won’t be spooked by Michigan State’s defense.

But being spooked and being limited are two very different things.

Can Herbert pile up yards through the air while he’s doing his best to escape what will be a dangerous pocket being invaded by Willekes, Jacub Panasiuk, Mike Panasiuk, Raequan Williams, and all of the blitzing linebackers and defensive backs that Mike Tressel sends Herbert’s way?

Herbert will get some yards and he’ll find patches of open space over the course of the ball game.

Tressel will have his guys ready to adjust accordingly.

But Oregon will not be able to run the football against Michigan State.

Michigan State will, almost immediately, turn Oregon into a one-dimensional football team.

And that will allow Michigan State to tee-off on Herbert while the secondary limits the space and the running room after catches made by Oregon’s receivers.

And so, back to how figuring out what happens in this game really isn’t all that complicated.

Are the Spartans healthy?

That’s it.

If Brian Lewerke and the Michigan State offensive line can be described as being “healthy,” Michigan State wins this game.

 

Oregon is surrendering 27.2 points per game to opponents.

If the Spartan offensive line has managed to heal up and can play with some aggressiveness, cohesion, discipline, and anger, perhaps the Spartans can hold on to the ball, convert some 3rd and short situations, move the chains, and get themselves into redzone scoring opportunities.

If that…..stuff…..can happen, perhaps a healthy Brian Lewerke can make the throws we all know he can make when he’s healthy.

If Brian Lewerke is healthy, perhaps he’ll do as he’s mentioned in the last week or so and take advantage of running opportunities and inject life into the offense with his dangerous ability to run with speed and power.

If Lewerke is healthy, perhaps he can he extend plays and find Cody White, Darrell Stewart, Jalen Nailor, Cam Chambers, Brad Sowards, Matt Dotson, and Matt Sokol for short-, mid-, and long-range throws.

If LJ Scott is healthy, might be be able to run with the power and speed that everyone expected this season?

Yes – that’s a lot of “ifs.”

But do you trust Michigan State’s defense?

If you do not, you probably don’t trust your mother.

Nobody has trusted the Michigan State offense this season – and the offense has not earned anyone’s trust.

But did you trust Michigan State’s offense in 2017?

Felton Davis was a difference maker and it’s a shame his season ended in the loss to Michigan the way it did.

But Michigan State has plenty of fast, reliable, and tough receivers – when they’re healthy.

For the most part, a healthy Michigan State offense right now is not all that different from the offense that defeated Washington State 42-17 in last year’s Holiday Bowl.

Think back to whether you trusted Michigan State’s offense or not midway through the third quarter of that 42-17 win over Washington State.

That was the offense that we were all expecting this season.

Those were the players who were going to complement the Spartan defense every Saturday.

That offense wasn’t really around throughout the entire 2018 season due to a rash of injuries that made it almost impossible to get a rhythm and do the type of damage everyone was looking for.

And it all started with the offensive line – and with Brian Lewerke.

I have not had secret wired recordings of private conversations that have taken place within the Spartan football program over the last few weeks.

However, by paying close enough attention to sort of be able to read between the lines, it hasn’t sounded like anyone on the Michigan State roster other than Felton Davis has been injured to such a degree that he wouldn’t be ready to go for this football game against Oregon.

This team has had a chance to take a breath.

It’s had a chance to exhale and realize that the 7-5 season didn’t cause the sky to fall.

It’s had the chance to review the season, review personal performances, review key game decisions that could have been better.

And it’s had time to get healthy.

I’m going to be surprised if we do not see a healthy and rejuvenated Brian Lewerke take the field on Monday.

I’m going to be surprised if the members of the offensive line have to wear crutches while in the sideline during this game.

I’m going to be surprised if LJ Scott doesn’t destroy guys who make attempts to tackle him.

And I’m going to be surprised if Michigan State isn’t able to play with some life, some energy, some focus, some speed, some precision, some toughness, and some urgency on offense in this football game.

For this game – and for 2019 – Lewreke doesn’t need to be a Heisman Trophy candidate type of player.

For this game – and for 2019 – the offensive skill players don’t have to play like NFL All Pros.

Fireworks aren’t needed.

The defense will provide all of the fireworks anyone in Green and White would ever want.

Can the Spartan offense recapture the energy and execution it’s had over the last decade?

In addition to having the chance to win an 8th game to cap off the 2018 season, Michigan State is getting things started for the 2019 season.

Get ready for the next phase of the Mark Dantonio Era, folks.

No t-shirts will accompany this next phase – just toughness, focus, and hard work dedicated to adding to the 3 Big Ten Championships this program has already won under this coaching regime.

MICHIGAN STATE – 31

OREGON – 21

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