Key Matchups: MSU (5-3) vs Purdue (2-6)

`` Like we've always talked today and always will talk forever, as long as I'm here, is the most important thing in the program is the seniors and doggone it we can accomplish a goal this weekend and that's what we're playing for."--John L. Smith

Michigan State (5-3, 2-3 Big Ten) will look to win another conference game in West Lafayette, Indiana on Saturday as they face a struggling Purdue (2-6, 0-5 Big Ten) team.

After winning its first two games against Akron and Arizona, the Boilermakers have dropped six consecutive games since, meaning they will be hungry to break that streak of misery.

"They have some players and it's really strange that they have lost six," said head coach John L. Smith. "We watch film and we say there's no way."

The Spartans on the other hand, are looking to build on their sudden momentum and escape from a near free fall season. Bowl possibilities still remain alive but the three remaining games at Purdue, at Minnesota, and Penn State all are big games towards that goal.

Purdue was once ranked as high as #11 in the top 25 this season before falling to Minnesota in overtime earlier in the year. That loss to the Gophers put them in a slide that still has not stopped for the Boilermakers.

The key matchups for the game on Saturday focus on a Purdue receiver that is one of the best in the nation.

Purdue receiver Dorien Bryant vs. Michigan State defense: The Spartan defense will be facing one of the top receivers in the nation as Purdue likes to use him very often in the offense. The Spartans contained Indiana receiver James Hardy last week and have momentum on their side against him and fellow receiver Kyle Ingraham, who is 6-foot-9.

"He (Bryant) can flat fly," said Smith. "They do so much with him, he's a major part of their game plan and they figure ways to get him the ball."

Purdue platoons at quarterback, interchanging Brandon Kirsch and Curtis Painter. Although Smith expects to see both on Saturday, Kirsch has gotten much more playing time than Painter. The confusion at quarterback might open a door a few takeaways by the defense and pressure on the anchor all day.

Purdue rushing attack vs. Michigan State defensive line: The Boilermakers running game has scored twice as many touchdowns than through the air. They feature two backs, Jerod Void and Kory Sheets, who share the rushing duties and both also have scored six touchdowns.

"They keep you solid with it because it's an option game and they play the zone off that option game, anytime they run that type of offense, it's tough to defend, it softens you up," said John L. Smith.

The Spartans' defense has always focused on stopping their opponent's running game as the most important key to the game, so if they should pressure the quarterback and stop the running game, the Boilermakers might avert to force throws to Bryant, who would and should be on tight coverage all day by the secondary.

Javon Ringer vs. Purdue defense: Let's face it, Javon Ringer has emerged as the feature back in recent weeks, and he just keeps on getting better. Ringer and the rest of the offense will be facing the second to last defense in the Big Ten, and surprisingly a team that is returning all 11 starters on defense from last season.

"He's really progressed and his game has really gone up. He's getting pretty good and getting better all the time," said John L. Smith.

The Boilermakers have given up 1163 rushing yards this season (145.2 per game), including 11 touchdowns. Jason Teague and Jehuu Caulcrick will also enjoy a nice day filled with plenty of carries as the Spartans may run the ball down the Boilermakers' throats.

Michigan State will look to avoid an all too familiar let down to a team that they should beat. It's up to the players to get pumped up for the game on Saturday, and it's also on them not to overlook the Boilermakers.


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