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Too Much Information: A Look at the Michigan State Spartans' Defense

If truth in advertising laws applied to blogs, I probably couldn’t attach my usual "Too Much Information" moniker to this breakdown of tomorrow’s bowl opponent. We have already taken a glance at the Michigan State offense, but, even when you combine what follows with my previous posting, it still won’t add up to as much information as Doug Gillett already gave you. Still, a recurring bit is a recurring bit, so here we have a cursory look at the Spartan defense:

Earlier this week, we saw that the M.S.U. offense stands squarely in the middle of the pack, despite the presence of Javon Ringer (who accounts for 132.5 of Sparty’s 138.4 rushing yards per game). Michigan State appears distinctly average on the other side of the ball, as well.

The Spartans are fifth in the Big Ten in scoring defense (21.9 points per game allowed). While Michigan State had some reasonably solid defensive performances in which the squad held Iowa to 13 points and Purdue to seven (both in East Lansing), Mark Dantonio’s team seldom acquitted itself well against the tougher teams on its slate. Sparty surrendered 21 points at Michigan (which ranked eleventh in the Big Ten in scoring offense), 29 at Indiana (which ranked tenth in the Big Ten in scoring offense), 38 at California, 45 to Ohio State, and 49 at Penn State.

Although the Capital One Bowl will be Michigan State’s first neutral site game of the season, it at least ought to be noted that the Spartans allowed 15.1 points per game at home and 31.4 points per game on the road.

Of course, given all the Michigan license plates I see southbound on I-75 around the holidays, Orlando may qualify as a Spartan home game!

Michigan State ranks seventh in its conference in pass defense (210.3 yards per game allowed), but the Spartans have picked off nearly as many passes (13) as they have permitted to be caught for touchdowns (15). Fortunately, M.S.U.’s 21 giveaways nearly offset their 22 takeaways.

Sparty surrenders nearly 150 rushing yards per outing (eighth in the Big Ten) and the Boilermakers are the only team in the league to concede more yards per carry than the 4.2 permitted by Michigan State. Likewise, Indiana and Minnesota are the only two conference squads to concede more yards per play than the Spartans allow (5.3).

This is not news to anyone, but it appears clear that Georgia should be able to move the ball effectively against Michigan State. The question is whether the Bulldogs will be able to stop the Spartan offense---or, at least, stop it often enough---to win what is apt to be a Holiday Bowl-style shootout.

I have more hope than faith that the Red and Black will play, if not their best, then at least well enough. There is no serious question that the Classic City Canines’ A game beats the Great Lake State Gladiators’ A game; I feel pretty confident that Georgia’s B game wins a tight one against Michigan State’s A game. A C+ performance from the Bulldogs, though, will produce a 9-4 record, a ranking outside the top 20, and a long bitter winter in Bulldog Nation.

I’m splitting the difference and saying Georgia plays better than we’ve seen lately but that Michigan State gives the Red and Black a better game than we’d like to see. Earlier, I mentioned the last postseason clash between these two teams, and I like history to repeat itself on New Year’s Day.

My Prediction: Georgia 34, Michigan State 27.

Go ‘Dawgs!