This is going up a little early because I don't think I'll have time to write tomorrow morning. Still in New York City, enjoying some crappy weather now and some great comics people. NYCC is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows of the year and this is shaping up to be my best show ever in terms of actual interviews and facetime with people. But that's not why we're here. We're here for some football! I'm too tired and there's only one game worth caring about tomorrow, although I will talk about one others. So let's jump in.
Eastern Michigan at Central Michigan - I don't want to scare anyone, but Eastern Michigan is 3-3 and could get back to a winning record again with a win over the Chippewas. Is this an official changing of the guards among the Michigan MAC teams? I sure hope not, but I have to admit that it could be. When Eastern hired Ron English as head coach I knew they would be an improved team at some point. I didn't expect the rough years they have had the last couple years, but it appears they have finally turned the corner. Now, I know nothing about Eastern's team, because they have been one of the laughing stocks of college football for a long time, but it looks like I might need to. Do I think they will beat Central? No, I do not. Even though Central has the worse record in this contest, I still have some faith in them. Radcliff has looked okay, this is a home game, and somewhat of a rivalry and I think the Chips will come out for this one. Central has struggled against bigger team, but has played well against MAC teams (except for Western, of which we will not speak of again). Look for Radcliff to pass to Cody Wilson all day long. I'm going to go out on a limb and make a Central win my Stone Cold Lock of the Century. Of the Week.
#11 Michigan at #23 Michigan State - I remain unimpressed by U of M's high ranking. They are definitely the most over-ranked team in the country. Which is not to say they are bad, they just haven't played anyone really tough and they have looked questionable at times. Their defense is much improved and the offense under Denard "Shoelace" Robinson has the same potency as last year, if not more because by this point in the season last year Shoelace was injured and spent and never caught the same magic of those first few weeks. This year, Robinson is still playing well and making a name for himself in the Heisman chase.
On the other side is a State team that has the #1 defense in the country, but everyone knows they haven't really played anyone and that stat is really padded by that 46 yards allowed game against Florida Atlantic. Is this really a dominant defense? I don't really think so, but they had a bye last week, and they looked pretty convincing against Ohio State, so they maybe could be. This is going to be the game that decides what State's team really is.
Going back to U of M, we have a defense that is playing well and is keeping them in games that they would have lost last year. The new Defensive Coordinator is making a big difference already and they still have room for improvement. Again, has the defense honestly played well, or have they just been beating inferior teams? We will find out.
Finally, we have the State offense, which was supposed to be much better than what they have shown this year. QB Kirk Cousins has shown flashes of brilliance, but has not been up to the same level it looked like he was at last year. The three headed monster at running back hasn't come together, mostly because of an inexperienced O-line. The question will be how they perform this week, and can they show up for the game.
Now, the intangibles. State has won the last three years, taking advantage of weak U of M teams, and I'm sure the seniors would love to walk out with an unbeaten streak against their main rival. Meanwhile, this is first year U of M coach Brady Hoke's chance to put his stamp on the program, and get a lot of good will in Ann Arbor while he's at it. A win would legitimize the program and his short tenure, and would go a long way towards getting them off many over-rated lists. The game is at East Lansing, which is always a big factor in this game.
So what will the outcome be? In my opinion, I look for Michigan to walk away with the big win. Robinson has proved to be as good as we thought he was last year, and he has adapted well to Hoke's new system, while maintaining the things that make him Shoelace. He will prove this State D to be a paper tiger. Meanwhile, U of M defense is going to prove themselves by shutting down a weak offense. I don't want to underestimate State, but I just don't think they're that good of a team. There will be lots of crying and burnt coaches in East Lansing tomorrow night, as U of M goes back home with a 7-0 record, a guaranteed bowl berth, and a smile on their faces. Go Blue!