Did You Know: Michigan State Edition

We sat down with SpartanDigest publisher Mike Wilson and he talks about the jump Michigan State's offensive unit has taken, who are some players to watch, what are the keys to the game this weekend and much more!

1.) The Spartans have one of the best defenses in the nation, so what if any are the weaknesses to this unit?

Wilson: "There isn't really a weakness, necessarily. The ways it has been beaten this year are mostly misdirection, which Nebraska did a good job with and gained a good chunk of yards. Indiana also did a bit of that. Both teams also go hurry-up, which has some success. The way the MSU defense approaches things is to take away the run and challenge teams to beat its corners in press coverage. The problem with that is the corners are very good -- with Darqueze Dennard being an elite player. If I were an opposing coordinator, I would seek to get throwback screens and as much misdirection in as possible to use the aggressiveness of the MSU defense against itself."

2.) What has been the difference from Michigan State's offense this year to last year?

Wilson: "The easy answer would be Connor Cook and that certainly would be a valid response, but I think the real change is confidence. People are making plays and the offensive line is healthy. With a line protecting Cook and opening up the run game for Jeremy Langford and wide receivers making catches they didn't last year, everything has clicked for the Spartans. With each passing game, the confidence of the offense is more clear and Cook would be the place where that is most seen."

3.) What will be the main challenge you see Michigan State having against Minnesota?

Wilson: "Time of possession. Minnesota is a team that might keep the Michigan State defense on the field for more time than it is used to. The Spartans lead the nation in time of possession which has a lot to do with the offense taking time to drive down field, but also is a credit to the defense getting three-and-outs. Minnesota is up there in time of possession, too, and if it can mount some drives it could keep the MSU defense out there more than it is used to and maybe wear it down a bit."

4.) Give us a player on both sides of the ball Minnesota needs to know about.

Wilson: "On defense, it's Max Bullough and that's no surprise. He is the leader and the commander of the defense. He also has been known to audible into plays without coaches even knowing what he is doing -- and making a better adjustment. He's the spearhead and will be playing his final game in Spartan Stadium. Offensively, this is another spot to go to Cook, but I think Langford is more important to know. He has two straight games with 150 or more yards and six straight with 100-plus. He is playing really good football and getting better week by week."

5.) What are the keys to the game and your prediction.

Wilson: "Whichever team controls the clock and the pace of the game will have a lot of success, especially early. For MSU, shutting down Minnesota on its opening drives and making a statement of how tough it will be to run the ball will be big. If Michigan State can make Minnesota pass, it will almost certainly come out on top. I like Michigan State in this one, despite facing a very improved Minnesota team. I think MSU wins it 31-13.

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