Is Sparty’s defense as good as advertised?
Now that our attention is fully turned to this game, I have been reading and listening to a bunch of bull crap about how the MSU D will shut down Denard, they are ranked 3rd Nationally and so on and so forth, but I wanted to see for myself how they got this reputation.
Obviously, last year MSU had a pretty good 2010 season and beat us up pretty bad. They finished #26 in Total Defense last year, but gave up a lot of points in several games (several in the 30s and 40s). How many defensive starters return from their #26 ranked Defensive unit? …...just 6.
Secondly, there is the issue of Minnesota-esque competition this year. The MSU defense has certainly played well only surrendering 51 pts through 5 games. But as you can see below, the record for previous MSU opponents is terrible and their respective total offensive rankings are pitiful, except for Notre Dame. Of course they lost (badly) to the only decent team they have played.
MSU Scoring Defense ranked # 3
6 Points… Youngstown State (now 2-3): ranked #9 in scoring offense in FCS.
0 points… Florida Atlantic (now 0-5): ranked #113 in scoring offense in FBS.
31 points… Notre Dame (now 4-2) ranked #44 in scoring offense in FBS.
7 points… C. Michigan (now 2-4) ranked #94 in scoring offense in FBS.
7 points… Ohio State (now 3-3) ranked #84 in scoring offense in FBS.
Combined opponent records: 11-17
Average opponent scoring-O rank: 97 (Only WINS counted) (YS not counted)
Then there is the issue of Michigan’s offense. Through the whole season last year, M ranked #22 nationally in scoring offense. We returned 9 starters on offense, and are starting to look as solid as we have ever looked. The scoring offense through 6 games last year was 37.3 and through 6 games this year, it is 37.8.
Michigan Scoring Offense ranked #21
34 points… W. Michigan (now 4-2) ranked #39 in scoring defense in FBS.
35 points… Notre Dame (now 4-2) ranked #32 in scoring defense in FBS.
31 points… E. Michigan(now 3-3) ranked #62 in scoring defense in FBS.
28 points… SDSU (now 3-2) ranked #52 in scoring defense in FBS.
58 points… Minnesota (now 1-5) ranked #110 in scoring defense in FBS.
42 points… Northwestern (now 2-3) ranked #73 in scoring defense in FBS.
Combined opponent records: 17-17* (M has played one more game than MSU)
Average opponent scoring-D rank: 61.3
I believe one of the greatest x-factors Hoke and Co have brought to this team (they are virtually the same players as last year) is their pre-game preparation and mid-game adjustments. We’ve seen a huge difference at half-time as in the WMU, ND, SDSU, and Northwestern games, and have played much better in the first quarter offensively for the most part since ND (save Denard’s picks).
I think Mattison and Co exploit MSUs O-line problems and prevent Cousins from getting in a consistent rhythm all day. The much improved M defense will be well prepared after seeing several decent to good QBs all year (Carder, Rees, Lindley, Persa) and continue their bend-but-don’t-break routine.
I don’t want to thoughtlessly run MSU into the ground, but on the basis of 6 newcomers to the defense and shoddy competition, they have a lot to prove to me that they can stop Michigan’s offense.
Michigan wins this easier than once thought: 38-24