Preview: Michigan State vs. Northwestern

The Wildcats defense ranks 116th in the nation and they have a great task at hand in attempting to stop one of the best offenses in the country. The Spartans are bound to score a lot of points with as many weapons as they can throw at a defense.

What: Northwestern (4-2, 2-1) at Michigan State (4-2, 1-2)
*MSU Homecoming*
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI –Capacity 75,005 (sellout expected)
Last Meeting: MSU 39, Northwestern 24 (Sept. 28, 2002)
All-Time: MSU leads 31-14
In East Lansing: MSU leads 17-4
Injuries: NORTHWESTERN - None
MICHIGAN STATE- OT Stefon Wheeler (probable), CB Irving Campbell(doubtful), K Kyle Mayer (Out, Groin)

East Lansing - The top two offensive teams in the Big Ten are set for a showdown on Saturday. Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez has been the Big Ten Player of the Week for the past two weeks, putting up huge numbers against Purdue and Wisconsin.

"He's a real good player (Basanez)," said MSU head coach John L. Smith. "He makes a lot of things happen; he gets rid of the ball and lets the offense work for him. They don't give up a lot of sacks because he's getting rid of the ball quick."

The Wildcats defense ranks 116th in the nation and they have a great task at hand in attempting to stop one of the best offenses in the country. The Spartans are bound to score a lot of points with as many weapons as they can throw at a defense.

Key Matchups:
Michigan State defense vs. Northwestern offense:
Defensive end Michael Bazemore made it clear that the Spartan defense is looking to make a statement on Saturday and they will start by trying to stop true freshman running back Tyrell Sutton. Sutton is second in the Big Ten in rushing yards and touchdowns.

"Really good player, he (Sutton) has speed, balance, good vision, and they do a good job of giving him the ball," said Smith. "They know what they're doing with their offense and they do a great job."

Cornerback Jaren Hayes vs. Wildcat receivers Shaun Herbert and Jonathan Fields:
Hayes once again has to step up big against the opponents' top receivers. Brett Basanez does a great job passing when he gets adequate time in the pocket.

"We want to get a pass rush going to help out our DB's," said Bazemore, speaking for the defensive line.

Michigan State offense vs. Northwestern defense:

This is a great mismatch in the game and Drew Stanton should be first in line to take advantage of the Wildcats' weakness on defense. Although the Wildcats score 35 points a game, they give up just as many points, exactly 35 a game also.

This is the week the Michigan State offense finally plays an entire solid game rather than fade in the second half. This also is the type of game that can give the both sides of the ball for State confidence as they wind up the season.

Michigan State Field Goal Unit vs. itself.

While John Goss remains the kicker, the goal for the Spartans this week is to get Goss a few attempts at some mid-range field goals to gain his confidence back. Another goal would be to not get any kicks blocked this week.

Overall, this is a game that can potentially brighten the faces of the somewhat down Spartans after two tough losses. This is the kind of game that can jump start a great team to succeed once again and makes a push for a bowl game if not a Big Ten title.


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