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Our staff picks the big game | USA Today High School Sports

Matt Sheehan

If you follow me on Twitter, you know what side of the battle I’m on (it’s a green scenery). However, I’m realistic and have seen enough MSU football this year to predict what will happen.

I think, and basically feel like I know, this will not end well for MSU.

MSU’s roster looks more like a hospital waiting list than a depth chart. The Spartans secondary gives up passing yards and big plays like they get paid commission on them. Their kicking is, um, I guess I’ll go with “comical?” Yeah, that sounds fitting.

And this isn’t your older brother’s Wolverines. They have an actual coach this year (blanking on his name, they never talk about him on TV) leading their pool of four-star and five-star athletes. Of course they’re a good team this year – it couldn’t get any worse than it previously was.

So here’s what’s going to happen. Jake Rudock will look good against MSU’s secondary. Michigan’s blitzing will slow down MSU’s offense. The Spartans will miss an important field goal or two (probably two). The Wolverines will win, and the love fest for football’s khaki-clad hero continues as usual on national TV.

U-M 27, MSU 14

Paul Costanzo

The biggest matchup in the biggest rivalry game of the weekend is simple: Can Notre Dame’s defensive line take advantage of USC center Max Tuerk’s injury, limiting the Trojans’ run game and getting pressure on Cody Kessler.

I’m pretty su— What’s that? Not that rivalry game? Oh. I suppose this one is pretty big, too.

But in all seriousness, this has gone from a game that seemed like a pipe dream for Michigan before the season to one the Wolverines should absolutely win. They’re at home. They’re rolling. Michigan State is one injury on the offensive line away from checking on Matt Sheehan’s eligibility, and has looked generally bad even when some of those guys were healthy.

There’s a chance Mark Dantonio has been saving everything up for this game. In fact, I wouldn’t put that past him in this rivalry. And one could argue the Spartans have made it look kind of easy when they actually needed to do something to win a game.

Of course, that’s all things that maybe, possibly could be happening. What is happening is that Michigan is dominating people, and Jim Harbaugh has his team playing at a level not many people thought was possible in his first year.

There won’t be a shutout. There won’t be a blowout. But there will be at least one more week of people fawning over the Wolverines, and it will be justified.

U-M 24, MSU 17

Joseph Hayes

Entering the season, there was much to be said about the Jim Harbaugh effect on the University of Michigan. In many ways, Harbaugh has had a bigger, quicker impact than most would have expected. The Wolverines have quickly morphed into an upper echelon Big Ten team. But the Wolverines still have ground to make up against Michigan State and Ohio State. Today they will be presented an opportunity to take a big step forward.

But it won’t be easy. Despite the fact that Michigan is playing great defense, producing on special teams and developing quickly on offense, this will still be an extremely difficult game for the home team.

Even with a vast number of injuries, in my view Michigan State is extremely dangerous. The Spartans’ best hope is to win the line of scrimmage on offense and especially on defense and stop Michigan’s running game. By placing Michigan in long third down situations, they could take advantage of Michigan’s average passing game and flip field position. Pay close attention to the running game, who establishes field position and above all else who generates the most turnovers. This game will be close from the beginning to the end.

I believe Michigan’s defense and solid special teams play will be the difference. All of Ann Arbor will be celebrating Saturday night after a closely contested Michigan victory.

U-M 17, MSU 14

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