Know Your Opponent: Michigan State Spartans

Written by Lloyd Ribner III (@Ribner3

See how easy Michigan State can be?!?

See how easy Michigan State can be?!?

 Hoosier Nation is looking for a reason to jump on the bandwagon of the IU Football program. They got reason number one when Kevin Wilson and Crew went out and upset Penn State last week. It was the first time in program history that they beat the Nittany Lions, and the first time in current students lifetimes that the Hoosiers took down one of the blue bloods of the Big Ten.

Can the Hoosiers do it again? It will be tough sledding against the lock down defense of Michigan State. Incase you have not been watching the Spartans with bated breathe throughout 2013, we are here to give you some Spark Notes on Sparty. The experts out in Vegas say that Sparty will win by double digits...what do you think? 

 

Find out everything that you need to know about the Hoosiers' week seven opponent, the Michigan State Spartans right here. 

This Years Record: 4-1 (1-0 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Mark Dantonio, 50-27(.649), 6th year

Last Years Record: 7-6 (3-5), Won Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl vs. TCU 17-16

Bowls Since 2000: 9 Appearances (4-5 Record)

Mascot: Sparty

Colors: Green and White

National Titles: 6 (1951,1952, 1955, 1957, 1965, 1966)

Outfitter: Nike

Fun Fact: While in modern sports Michigan State is considered a basketball school, their football team’s history is far more outstanding. While the Spartan basketball team has 2 national titles, and 3 Consensus All-Americans, the football program claims 6 national championships in addition to their 30 Consensus All-Americans.

1. Their Defense is Really Really Really Good!

This Spartan defense isn’t just good for the Big Ten, it stacks up nationally with just about any other unit in America.  What they do is stifle your offense no matter what your game plan is. Against the pass Michigan State’s defense ranks 6th nationally allowing just over 152 passing yards per game, and 4.22 yards per pass. The Spartans are even stouter against the run as they lead the nation. They have allowed opponents just 51.2 yards per game on the ground, and a pithy 1.97 yards per rush!  

Statistically Pat Narduzzi’s squad is ranked as the best in the nation in total defense. They are barely allowing opponents to move the ball, allowing an NCAA best 203.8 yards per game, in addition MSU allows just 3.28 yards per play, also the best in the nation. This is not a slim margin either, the next best team is Louisville who allow about 15 more yards per game. What might be more impressive is that the Spartans are one of just three teams who allow less than 250 yards per game, and one of twelve under 300 yards. As you can see, that 203.8 is no

joke!

Who would you rather be tackled by, the Spartan Defense or the MSU Tailgating Team?

Who would you rather be tackled by, the Spartan Defense or the MSU Tailgating Team?

2.  The Big Plays Have Been Missing However…

They do not do it in a traditional manor. As a team they have just nine sacks on the year, there are 69 teams who have had more They are getting pressure, as the Spartans have 33 quarterback hurries at this point in the season after collecting just 34 all of last year. While pressure is important and effective, Sacks end in loss of yardage and eliminates the chance for a positive offensive plaay. While they rank higher in regards to interceptions, tied for 39th nationally with 6 picks, the Spartans are far from juggernauts either. Big plays have been the bane of the Hoosier offense’s existence, so this is something that could give them some hope after hearing all the laurels of the Michigan State defense above.

3. Connor Cook Just Played His Best Game of the Year

His numbers have been far from prodigious on the season. In their first five games the sophomore has just 688 yards, and 7 touchdowns, 4 of which came against Youngstown State, while completing just 54.4-percent of his passes. Last week on the road against Iowa Cook had the best game of his career. He played against a tough Hawkeye defense led by a very good offensive line. His final stat line was far from Heisman worthy, however, all offseason experts nationally said that if the offense was just mediocre this team could be very dangerous. They were just that in Iowa City. Cook threw for a career high 277 yards, while completing nearly 57-percent of his passes. He was also able to toss two touchdowns. It was only the second game this year that the Spartan quarterback had a QB Rating over 100, and the other one was in that game against the Penguins.

4.  The Offense Has Been Just About as Bad as The Defense Has Been Good…

We lauded the Spartan defense for everything that they do right. We have to be real with the offense; it’s been pretty damn bad. Michigan State ranks just 100th nationally in total offense, averaging just 355 total yards per game. Even more discouraging is their 4.75 yards per play as a team. The “bright spot”, if you can stomach calling it such is ranked 62nd nationally, racking up 176.6 yards per game. After having LeVeon Bell dominate the Big Ten last year, the Spartans are still trying to find their identity on the ground in 2013. The Passing game as we touched on with Connor Cook above has been plain old bad. Entering Saturday’s game the Spartans are putting up 178.5 yards per game through the air, good enough to be ranked 107th nationally, sandwiched right between Rice and Boston College.

5. Points are Scarce

We know the Spartans don’t give up yards as they allow the least per game in the entire nation. What about something that is a bit more important, ya know, points. While they don’t lead the nation in points allowed, they are pretty damn close. Michigan State’s defense is ranked 7th nationally allowing under two touchdowns a game, more specifically 13.4. Thus far in 2013 Pat Narduzzi’s crew has allowed no more than 17 points in a single contest. Indiana’s offense will be by far their toughest test of the season, and it will be interesting to see how the Spartans handle and offence ranked 12th nationally putting up 44.4 points per game.