Senior quarterback Luke McCown, who has thrown for over 10,000 yards in his career comes into Spartan Stadium looking to add more to his total.
Bulldog's head coach Jack Bicknell thinks his team is taking on the Spartans at the most opportune time. "There is no question what a win will do (for a team's confidence)," Bicknell said. "When they say winning solves all problems, that is the way it is. I think all of us felt the need to win. I think it will really help us for the rest of the year."
MSU head man John L. Smith agrees that Bicknell's team poses a serious threat to his team's undefeated record. "As I look at La. Tech, that's a good football team," Smith said. "Looking at the Miami film, they're capable of beating anybody they play. They're that athletic. And any time they spread it, they have a chance. Against Miami, if not for turning the ball over and Miami running a punt back, they're in that ballgame."
Joining McCown in the background is running back Ralph Davis who rushed for 95 yards in a 34-3 win over Louisiana-Lafayette probably won't get that kind of yardage against MSU. The Spartan are currently rated #1 in the nation in rushing defense. Opponents have a total of 4 yards against the Spartans to date.
"Michigan State's run defense is good," said Bicknell. "I think they have allowed only four yards on something like 60 rush attempts. I do not think that I have ever heard of any thing like that. So obviously they are very big, strong, and physical up front and they do a great job against the run as you can tell. So it is going to be another huge challenge."
What is the La. Tech game plan coming into East Lansing?
"I think that they run a kind of defense that we see a lot," said McCown. "They are a lot like Fresno in a sense that they mix in a little of a zone blitz, a little bit of 3 and a little of 2 cover. That is what we go against as an offense and that is the things we are use to seeing. Obviously they are a great team and have great athletes. We are going to pick and choose when we are going to take our shots. We have to be patient with the ball and we are going to have to work the ball down the field. I do not think that we are going to be able to take as many deep shots as we did against Lafayette but that is what I mean about us being patient."
ANALYSIS: With two sophomore and two juniors starting, MSU isn't big on experience in its secondary, but Ashton Watson, Eric Smith, Rod Maples and Jason Harmon have been good enough to throttle their two opponents thus far. Still, expect the Bulldogs to go after the Spartans secondary and expect that John L. Smith has devised a defense to combat that strategy. Smith and defensive coordinator Chris Smeland will combine blitzes and disguised coverages to try to bait McCown into bad throws. The Spartans expect to get some help from freshman Greg Cooper, one of the nation's top recruits a year ago, who has been out battling injuries. Look for Bandit Monquiz Wedlow to play a huge role, good or bad in this one.
Offensively senior quarterback Jeff Smoker will continue to spread the field with four and five receiver sets and if he continues to make good decisions with the football, MSU could score early and often. Smoker must account for the presence of senior cornerback Corey Brazil, one of the top cornerbacks in the WAC and the team leader a season ago in with 93 tackles.
The Spartans would love to get some production from their running game. While Tyrell Dortch has been the starter to date, his tenative style will likely give way to the tough running style of Jason Teague who racked up 80 yards late in the 44-28 win over Rutgers. Dortch, sophomore Kyle Brown and Tegue will be challenged by a decent La Tech front four featuring tackle Chris Van Hoy who recorded 51 tackles last season. At 293-lbs, Van Hoy teams with Lacorey Street (314-lbs) end Booker T. Washington and Travon Brown to present a somewhat opposing front. Still, MSU ought to be able to score on this team.
The Spartans must cut down on penalties. They are atop the Big Ten with 190 penalties yards having been penalized 23 times.
PICK: MSU moves to 3-0 by doing what they do best, outscoring the opposition in a shootout. Michigan State 38- Lousiana Tech 27