Minnesota (8-3)(4-3 B1G) at Michigan State (10-1)(7-0 B1G) (12:00 p.m. ET, on BTN)
Line: MSU -17 (Bovada)
Last Meeting: 2012: 23-20 Northwestern
3 Players to Watch:
1) Andrew Maxwell (QB, MSU):Andrew is not the starter and he might not even get a chance to see the field, but he certainly should. This is a kid who expected to be the starter but he just couldn’t seem to gel with the offense. Many other players in the same position would pout or make a big deal about losing their starting job, Andrew, on the other hand, took it with class and has tried to help the team in any way possible. As a fan of Michigan State or college football in general, you have to respect the way he has handled it. I hope to see Andrew get some snaps on senior day and I hope the crowd will give him the ovation he deserves. He may not have lived up to the expectations he came onto campus with, but he has proven to be a true Spartan and I feel that he should be recognized.
2) Ra’shede Hageman (DT, Minn.):At 6 foot 6 inches and weighing 311 pounds, Hageman is a load. He may be the best defensive player in the entire B1G and could be the first B1G player taken in the next NFL draft. Hageman is a beast and will test the Spartan’s offensive line all game. If Minnesota hopes to have any chance beating Michigan State, they will have to slow the Spartan run game and Ra’shede could be a huge factor in doing so. Regardless of how this game plays out, I would key on Hageman when the Spartans are on offense. He is a truly fun and talented player to watch on the field and one that probably hasn’t gotten enough recognition over the years.
3) Jeremy Langford (HB, MSU): Well Langford has gone into complete beast mode. He has had back-to-back 150-yard games while scoring at least 2 touchdowns in each of them. Not only that, but he has rushed for 100 yards or more in the last 6 games and I expect him to make it 7 after tomorrow. The key for Jeremy has been to get 20 carries and if he does he seems to usually get 100 plus yards. Mark Dantonio and Co. should stick with that formula and Langford should have another good game. He seems to wear down a defense as the game goes and it has shown as he has broken quite a few big runs late in games.
Minnesota has surprised a lot people thus far in the season and they have done so through defense and the run game. Michigan State’s offense has been really clicking over the past few weeks and has scored at least 29 points in the past four games. The Gopher defense only allows 23 points per game but I do expect the Spartans to surpass that number. Connor Cook and Jeremy Langford have had the MSU offense moving smoothly and I expect them to continue to do so leading up the B1G Title game.
Michigan States defense will get one of their hardest tests on the ground this week against a Minnesota offense averaging 207 yards on the ground per game. But on senior day for Max Bullough, Denicos Allen, Darqueze Dennard and Isaiah Lewis I hardly expect the Gopher will be able to get their average this week. That being said, it should be a good test for the Spartans regardless as they prep for the B1G Title game.
Michigan State actually has all of their goals ahead of them and this final game quite frankly could mean nothing if the Spartans win in Indianapolis. But if they do not and they lose against Minnesota they will have basically no chance at a BCS game. Some may argue that the Spartans may not have much of a chance if they lose to Ohio State regardless as Wisconsin could pass them up in the BCS rankings. But I do not expect the Spartans to lose to Minnesota as the Gophers just do not have enough on offense to beat Michigan State. It should be a good senior day for Michigan State’s most winningest class of all time.
My pick: Michigan State 34, Minnesota 14