With Northwestern on its bye last weekend, the prolific Lake the Posts has been even more prolific than normal in producing MSU-vs.-Northwestern content:
- A primer on the recent series between the two teams. Summary: Mucho scoring.
- Assorted tidbits on the two teams. Depressing tidbit: Northwestern has 3 more Big Ten wins than MSU does since 2003.
- A comparison of Javon Ringer and Tyrell Sutton’s statistical outputs. Summary: Sutton’s been more efficient; Ringer’s carried a much larger load.
- And even an interview at The Rivalry, Esq. previewing the game. He expects the Wildcats to put eight men in the box to stop Ringer.
According to both the pollsters and the Sagarin ratings, this team features the current 3rd and 4th best teams in the conference, which is somewhat surreal. Sagarin predicts a Northwestern win by 2.5 points. The FEI ratings like the Wildcats even more, predicting a 28-23 Northwestern win. The bettors, meanwhile, think our Spartans have some extra moxie the computers don’t know about: The current Vegas lines favor MSU by a point and a half (with an over/under of just 47 points–quite low given the recent history of this series).
This game is basically a coin flip. Whichever team triumphs will pick up a sixth win and become a good bet to go at least 8-4. The Spartans Weblog keys to the game:
- Establish the running game. In Northwestern’s first Big Ten game against Iowa, they gave up 159 yards on 21 carries (7.6 yards/carry) to Shonn Green. So they may be more vulnerable than other Big Ten opponents to Dantonio’s “40 carries and a gimpy running back” philosophy. Oversimplistic statistical prediction: If Javon Ringer gains at least 4 yards on 2 of his first 3 first-down rushing attempts, MSU wins the game.
- The secondary has to tackle. C.J. Bacher is completing a good percentage (59.4%) of his passes but those completions generally aren’t leading to big gains (10.0 yards/completion). And he’s only been sacked twice in five games, so he’ll likely have time to throw for short completions. MSU’s banged up defensive backs will have to play error-free against a no-huddle offense for four full quarters to stop Northwestern from scoring on short catches that turn into long gains.
Note that these keys to the game cumulatively result in the following equation: Score more points than they do.
Basketball season can’t come soon enough, eh? Can anybody improve on these keys to the game?
Game time is 3:30 on ESPN2.