Third in the league in receptions with 39, Lippett leads all wide outs in yards per game (112.3) and touchdown catches, already with eight. Lippett’s yards-per-catch is as impressive as any of those statistics, a staggering 20.2.
“Tony Lippett has played like the best receiver in this conference,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Monday. “I think when you see the big plays in big games that he has made.”
High praise for a fifth-year senior and Detroit native that spent a portion of his career at Michigan State on the defensive side of the football.
With just six more receptions, Lippett will have already surpassed his reception total from the entire 2013 season.
While Lippett will certainly draw a great deal of focus on the outside, Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison eyes the Spartan offense and sees several playmakers.
“They have very good wide receivers,” Mattison said. “He’s not the only one. The tight end is a very good receiver, (Aaron) Burbridge is a good receiver. I think they’ve got very good wide receivers but don’t kid yourself, they pride themselves on running the football and they can run the football, they’ve shown that.
“They are not a passing team. They will pass if that’s what it’s supposed to be but I just think they’re a good offense. They’ll run the football if you let them run the football and they’re going to take shots and complete passes if you let them complete passes. That’s what a good offense does.”
Michigan State’s rushing attack is lead by senior Jeremy Langford, also a converted member of the Spartan secondary.
Langford comes in at fifth in the conference with 94.9 rushing yards per game, also tied for sixth in the league with seven touchdowns.
As much guff as Michigan’s defense has gotten this season, the Wolverines do rank second in the conference in rushing yards allowed per game at just 93.6, behind Penn State, allowing just 60.8.
But Mattison knows what’ll be most important Saturday afternoon in East Lansing if Michigan hopes to steal a game on the road.
“There’s only one stat that matters to me and that’s whether you win or lose,” Mattison said. “Yeah, you can look at stats and say boy you’ve done a good job against the run but what have you done against the pass?
“There’s only one statistic that really ever matters and that’s points given up. That’s all that matters. And if it’s not zero it’s not good enough because your job is to do whatever you have to do on defense, if you want to be a great defense, to win the football game.”
In two losses since Greg Mattison came back to Michigan in the winter of 2011, the Wolverines’ defense allowed 28 points and 29 points, surrendering just 10 in a win at home in 2012.