CFB Week 9 Preview – Michigan @ Michigan State 17:00 UK Time (12:00 EST). This weeks edition of College Football includes some tasty match-ups, here’s my favorites. Georgia @ Florida, Texas @ Baylor, North Carolina @ Notre Dame and Penn State @ Ohio State
This week is incredibly important for the rankings of the Big 10 East. It seems as though only one of these Michigan teams will go onto challenge Ohio State for the East. A historic rivalry for the Paul Bunyan trophy, with this being the 114th meeting of the two teams. The Wolverines lead the series 71-37 with 5 ties. This is the 1st time since 1964 that both teams face each other while being Top-10 teams. It is also the 1st time ever that both teams play each other while being 7-0
The Michigan defense has been outstanding this season. It is 2nd in the Nation in fewest points allowed. Allowing just 100 points in 7 games, an average of just 14 points a game! The Wolverine run defense is strong but comes up against its hardest opponent thus far in Kenneth Walker, the Spartans running-back. The Michigan defense only gives up an average of 116 rushing yards per game and has only given up 3 rushing TD’s all season, but will find it difficult to contain the force that is Walker. All round the Wolverine defense has fantastic stats. As a unit they are graded a 92.6 by PFF. They have created 121 pressures with 16 resulting in a sack and 71 forcing the QB for make a hurried play. In tackling they have made 299 of them, 170 of which resulted in a defensive stop with 6 forced fumbles.
On the offensive side of the ball they have been strong all season. Their rushing game has been outstanding this season, with the focus on the two-headed pronged attack of Corum and Haskin. Both running-backs have been graded above 90 by PFF. The Wolverine rushing game outshines the passing game, with 1773 yards on the season and 25 TD’s. Statistically they have the 5th best run offence in the Nation. They come up against the 28th best rushing defense in the Nation, so for Michigan to succeed in this game a lot will be in the hands of Haskin and Corum.
Much like their in-state rivals, the Spartans also have a fantastic defense. It is graded 90.9 by PFF. They are 8th in that Nation in terms of sacks, with 29 on the season. An average of slightly under 4 a game! Their stats in pressure are just crazy, with 179 pressures in the season and 127 of those pressures forcing the QB to make a hurried play. A standout player for the Michigan State defense has been Jacub Panasuik. The DE has been responsible for 45 of the Spartans pressures and 7 of the defenses sacks. These are better stats then Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, but is let down in his ability against the run and his tackling. Panasuik will have to have a fantastic day against a strong Michigan O-Line who have only allowed 40 pressures and 3 sacks all season.
The bright and shining star of the Spartans offense is their running-back, Kenneth Walker. Who has just short of 1,00 yards on the season and 10 TD’s. If we look past the talents of their running-back we uncover the hidden talents of QB, Payton Thorne. Thorne who has most definitely been overlooked for his running-back teammate, is actually a great player. He has commendable stats on the season, with 1,691 passing yards on the season and 15 TD’s. He nearly averages a 1st down on every throw, with 9.2 yards per attempt. Thorne’s favorite targets are the WR duo of Reed and Nailor, who combine for 1,071 receiving yards and 11 TD’s on the season
Undrafted’s Michigan Talent Watch – Aidan Hutchinson ED
One of my favorite players in College Football this season. Hutchinson is Michigan’s highest graded player with a grade of 93.3 and I could easily see him being selected Top-10 in Aprils draft. He will be a huge factor in this game as he has been in every game this season. So far this season Hutchinson has 34 pressures, with 6 of them being sacks. Out of those 34 pressures 21 of them forced the QB to make a hurried play. With Michigan State having an average O-Line, a PFF grade of 71.2, Hutchinson is sure to add to these fantastic stats and boost his draft stock.
Undrafted’s Michigan State Talent Watch – Kenneth Walker RB
The standout player on the Spartans team is running-back Kenneth Walker. Walker has fantastic stats on the season. He has 997 yards on the season, I expect him to easily surpass 1,500, averaging 142 yards per game. Walker also has 10 TD’s on the season, with 9 rushing and 1 receiving. He is he highest graded player on the Michigan State team with a PFF grade of 87.7. He comes up against the 25th best run defense in the Nation and I expect him to have a great game.