Friday, October 19, 2012

Football Previews Michigan/Michigan State

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By Doctor

Hi, it’s Football, remember me? Yes, that’s right, America’s favorite sport. Yeah, that guy. Now I know everyone has been extremely excited and distracted watching Baseball this past week as the Detroit Tigers kinda swept the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series to advance to the World Series for only the 11th time in franchise history. I get that. I just don’t want you to forget that I’m in mid-season form and hosting some pretty intense rivalry games this weekend that you might be interested in.

First off, Michigan (4-2, 2-0) hosts Michigan State (4-3, 1-2) in the Big House Saturday afternoon. That’s right, the big in-state rivalry game that pits friend against friend and often family against family. Yeah, it’s kinda a big deal and it happens tomorrow.

Now, I know that it isn’t as big of a game that many expected at the beginning of the season. The Wolverines started their season being humbled by Alabama beneath Jerry Jones Giant Ego Screen in Texas and also suffered a turn-over mess of a loss at Notre Dame, but hey the winningest college football program is undefeated in Big Ten Conference play (not as impressive a statement this year, but we gotta take what we can get) and is in the driving seat to win the Legends Division and play in the Big Ten Championship game for a chance to go to the Rose Bowl. Oh, and another thing, the Wolverines still have some kid nicknamed “Shoelace” who is pretty fast and might just be the most exciting player in college football. So I’ve got the Big House, the winged helmets, Denard Robinson, and the driver seat to a trip to Pasadena on the line tomorrow. Just a few reasons to tune in, no big deal.

Bleed Green instead? I’ll be the first to admit that the Spartans have been a bit of a disappointment this fall, not just to Michigan State fans, but to me personally as well. You see, the Spartans were my best hope this year for a Big Ten team to help fans located outside of the Great Lakes watershed to pay attention to the Big Ten beyond the shameful story still emerging out of State College and remind everyone that a running game and stingy defense can compete against the crazy uniforms of the Pacific Northwest and big d-line athletic freaks from the South.

So it is with all honesty that I say that few have been as disappointed by the Spartans as me. Hopes were so high after a monster performance by running back LeVeon Bell who can leap defenders in a single bound and carried his team to a Friday Night Lights victory over Boise State to start the season. Of course things went downhill fast for Sparty. It’s been embarrassing for me. There was the underwhelming performance at home against an Eastern Michigan team that had no business being in the game; then there was the no offense display against Notre Dame; the complete team no show for a half against Indiana (Indiana!); and most recently, a devastating Homecoming overtime loss to Iowa with obvious coaching miscues. Oh, not to mention all those dropped passes. Embarrassing

Of course, I've been around for a while, so I know that it’s tough to replace talented veteran players, but it’s been offensive line injuries that have really devastating the Spartans this season. Everybody always seems to forget to talk about the big guys up front when they talk about me, but they are as important as anyone. Losing their starting right tackle (Fou Fonoti), center (Travis Jackson), and big blocking tight end and best pass catcher (Dion Sims) have severely hindered Michigan State from playing the type of smash mouth brand of football that I’ve been known for in the Big Ten for decades. It’s made it difficult to keep the pressure off first year quarterback, Andrew Maxwell, maintain drives, and it’s a big reason the Spartans are 4-3 (1-2 Big Ten).

But this weekend will highlight one of my best qualities: The Rivalry Game. Michigan State’s down year can be partially salvaged with a win over hated rival, Michigan. It would be the 5th straight win in the rivalry for the Spartans, something that they have never accomplished.

On the other hand, for the Wolverines, a win would mean more than snapping the current losing streak to the Spartans, return the Paul Bunyan trophy to Ann Arbor, and clear them a path to the Big Ten Championship game. More importantly, this is a win Michigan needs to make a statement that the school is back to playing Michigan football under Brady Hoke by putting the upstart Spartans back in their place.

See, remember how many great story lines  I give fans every weekend. And none of them involve A-Rod or Jose Valverde. I didn't even have time to talk about my NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE and the Detroit Lions divisional rivalry game on Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. You’ll have to tune in again on Monday to see if I have an update on the pros and maybe some bonus coverage of some of my best moments. Yes, that’s right folks, tonight is my final chance to shine in the regular season under the Friday Night Lights at high schools across Michigan. Conference titles and playoff spots are at stake all across Michigan’s two peninsulas tonight. Playoff brackets are announced Sunday night for the journey to Ford Field Thanksgiving weekend.

Ah, Football. I know you missed me. Enjoy me this weekend before Baseball picks it up again next week.

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