Thursday, October 15, 2015

UM week (as enjoyable as a trip to the dentist)

I was ready for UM week to be over the day it started.

The hype has been as over-the-top as I can ever remember it (probably due in large part to Facebook, Twitter, sports talk radio, 24-hour sports networks, etc.) and I've done everything I can to avoid it. I just don't much enjoy Michigan week, and with Harbaugh-mania in full swing, it's been even more nauseating.

I take this game very personally, probably TOO personally, and I tire of the complete lack of class and respect that goes along with it. I get sick of annually defending the honor of my alma mater against the legions of obnoxious (mostly "unaffiliated") Michigan fans. If this was a rivalry built on mutual respect and at least a modicum of goodwill, it would be much more tolerable and maybe even FUN.

I've gone back and forth on how I think this game will go. My skepticism has been tempered a bit as the week has gone on. MSU's success really hinges on three factors: the offensive line, the defensive backs, and special teams.

Connor Cook is a great quarterback with a strong arm, good vision, and a strong stable of receivers, but will the MSU offensive line give him enough protection to have time to make throws? If he's running for his life or getting hit every other play, like against Rutgers, he won't have time. MSU also has to be able to effectively run the ball to take pressure off Cook.

It will be necessary for MSU's front seven to slow down the run and get pressure on Jake Rudock. Get him out of the pocket and force him into (I hope) bad throws.

Is Michigan's defense as good as advertised? Three consecutive shutouts is darned good no matter who the opponent is, so I suspect it is. Their defense was good LAST year, the trouble was their offense was so abysmal that the defense got tired late in games.

So, I still don't know what to expect. My guess is that Conklin and Keiler will do everything they can to play. How effective they are is anybody's guess, and it's anybody's guess whether MSU can win this game or not.

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