The Michigan State Spartans come home after pulling a sizable upset over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last week in South Bend. The Spartans are hoping the win is a springboard to much bigger things this season. They floated under the radar in the offseason, and despite the win against Notre Dame, you don’t hear much about them from the press or public. A win today against Wisconsin at home probably will not change anything. However, this is one of those games you hear about often: the potential trap game. Michigan State is feeling good following the events that transpired last week on Saturday night. But they can’t overlook the Badgers now, or we all know what will happen this afternoon.
There is a pretty simple reason for why Michigan State hasn’t been garnering much attention. They lost their starting quarterback, Connor Cook, to the NFL in the offseason, which signaled the beginning of a new signal-caller under center. It isn’t like he is a brand new freshman, though. Tyler O’Connor has been waiting for his chance at Michigan State for four years.
He sat in a backup role for the last three years, and is finally getting the nod as a senior. O’Connor doesn’t have as much time to showcase his stuff as his predecessors, but he has made the most of it thus far. Going into South Bend and playing a sound, proficient game on a Saturday night is not easy. Cook wasn’t able to beat the Fighting Irish, yet O’Connor made it look easy.
The Spartans played typical Michigan State football. They punched Notre Dame in the mouth in the trenches and ran through them like a hot knife through butter. Thanks to their presence running the ball, plays developed downfield for O’Connor to hit. Michigan State were the beneficiaries of a timely bye week before the Notre Dame game. The Badgers enter undefeated, with wins over LSU, Arkansas, and Georgia State.
Wisconsin looked like they were focused on this Saturday instead of Georgia State, as they managed to pull out a close 23-17 against Georgia State. Wisconsin will be turning to a redshirt freshman at quarterback this afternoon. It isn’t often you see a 3-0 team making a quarterback switch, but it’s exactly what Wisconsin is doing. Is it going to look like a genius move or a failure? We’re going to see early on Saturday.
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan State Spartans NCAAF Betting Odds:
Wisconsin +3.5 (-110)
vs. Michigan State -3.5(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Wisconsin vs. Michigan State Pick:
Wisconsin went to their backup redshirt freshman, after Bart Houston, failed to facilitate any kind of offense for the Badgers. Alex Hornibrook was able to get Wisconsin in the end zone, finishing with 122 yards for a touchdown and interception. Hornibrook is the new kid on the block, while Houston is a fifth-year senior. Houston has apparently been in a backup role for four years for a reason. If Hornibrook struggles against Michigan State, you can bet that the quarterback carousel is going to commence at Wisconsin. Michigan State has the talent on defense to cause some havoc.
Like clockwork, Michigan State presents a stingy defense for teams again in 2016. Notre Dame eventually got things rolling on offense, but at this point the Spartans were already up by a large margin. The defense relaxed a bit, allowing a small window for Notre Dame to stage a comeback. Wisconsin will have to make some plays with their freshman to win this game. Defense won their game against LSU, but at home, I expect Michigan State to put up more than 14 points. The Spartans have a deceiving offense. They don’t look like much on paper, but when you line up across from them they are a physical, tough bunch to handle for four quarters.
Hornibrook looked competent against Georgia State off the bench. He gets an animal this weekend on the road against Michigan State, though. Hornibrook is being thrown right into the fire in his freshman career. The Spartans were -6 favorites until the line dipped to -3.5. The angle on the Badgers in this game is that Michigan State is going to be slow and lethargic after beating Notre Dame last week. I would say this is true for most teams, but not a Mark Dantonio coached Michigan State team. Dantonio is going to have his team ready to play this afternoon. I expect the Spartan defense to frustrate Hornibrook, leading to a 6 or 7-point win for Michigan State.