Michigan Rushing Offense vs. MSU Rushing Defense
Michigan is 4th in the Big Ten in rushing with 192.6 yards per game. Mike Hart leads the Big Ten, and is 6th nationally, in rushing with 134.4 yards per game. U-M is 4th in the Big Ten in rushing at 192.6 yards per game. In addition, Hart has only fumbled twice in his U-M career, once as a freshman and also in his first carry of the 2006 season (which Mario Manningham recovered).
Michigan State is 3rd in the Big Ten in rushing defense, allowing 107.0 yards per game.
The Edge: This one looks like a great battle. In fact, it could be one of the two keys to the game -- EVEN.
MSU Rushing Offense vs. Michigan Rushing Defense
MSU is 1st in the Big Ten and 9th in the USA in rushing offense at 220.8 yards per game. But MSU's leading rusher Javon Ringer (31st in the USa with 87.6 yards per game) is out for the season after spraining his knee in the Illinois game last week. However, Wolverine fans should not celebrate just yet: Jehuu Caulcrick (260 yards in 4 games; the 260-pounder sat out the EMU game with a foot injury but had 111 yards in just 8 carries vs Notre Dame) takes over as starting running back. Second on MSU in rushing is QB Drew Stanton with 278 yards (he gained 100 yards vs Pitt this season), but Standon is now battling bruised ribs.
Michigan leads the nation in rushing defense, giving up 36.4 yards per game. The Wolverines have yielded no TD's on the ground and have yielded just 1.6 yards per carry.
The Edge: The second key of the game, and perhaps THE KEY. How Caulcrick runs the ball, and if Stanton takes off running with his bruised ribs (and if he does, how long he lasts) may be the determining factor of the game ... if Stanton can run loose in the MSU spread attack then it could be a very interesting evening -- slight edge to MICHIGAN, more, or less, dependng on the run-ability of Stanton.
Michigan Passing Offense vs. MSU Passing Defense
Michigan is 9th in the Big Ten in passing with 196.8 yards per game, but 2nd in Pass Efficiency. Chad Henne is 5th in the Big Ten in passing at 69-112 for 963 yards, 10 TD's, 4 ints. Mario Manningham leads the Big Ten in pass reception yardage with 90.4 yards per game, and is tied for 1st in TD's with 7.
MSU is 10th in the Big Ten in Pass Defense, giving up 223.8 yards per game, and 8th in the conference Pass Efficiency Defense.
The Edge: actually, this may be the key ... Mario Manningham catching TD pases has been U-M's main scoring weapon, and Mario has to keep it up, especially with U-M's TE's not involved much -- EDGE TO MICHIGAN.
MSU Passing Offense vs. Michigan Passing Defense
MSU is 4th in the Big Ten in Passing Offense with 212.4 yards per game. Drew Stanton is 8th in the Big Ten in passing at 81-128 for 935 yards, 8 TD's, 4 ints. Kerry Reed is MSU's leading receiver with 22 catches for 302 yards (13.7 yards per catch) and 4 TD's.
Michigan is 8th in the Big Ten in Pass Defense, giving up 201.8 yards per game, but 4th in Pass Efficiency Defense.
The Edge: with Jamar Adams now nursing an injury, as well as Morgan Trent, and with Charles Stewart coming off a game where he was beaten twice for TD's, this is actually another big key -- EDGE TO MICHIGAN STATE.
This is a more interesting game than Michigan fans may like to think (hope?). MSU has a potent offense if Stanton is healthy: the Spartans are 2nd in the Big Ten in scoring offense at 34.8 points per game, MSU leads the Big Ten in Red Zone Offense with 95.5% efficiency, and MSU is 2nd in the Big Ten in 3rd Down Conversions with 48.5%. And MSU's rushing defense is sound as well. And, the "X-Factor" is that MSU's season is already partially messed-up, so, even more than usual, this game is the 'whole season' for the Sparties.
Michigan should win this one, especially at home -- and the Wolverines bringing in so many recruits for the game indicates their confidence. However, watch two things:
1. Drew Stanton's health.
2. The ability of Mario Manningham to continue to get deep for long touchdowns ... even though opponents now know that's U-M's #1 TD threat.
TJB's game prediction:
Hard to so ... there really needs to be two:
1. Stanton Healthy: Michigan 28, MSU 24
2. Stanton hindered or out: Michigan 28, MSU 13
Michigan vs. Michigan State: The "Edges"
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