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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Deck stacked against Wolverines heading into East Lansing

There may never be a better time to use the "perfect storm" metaphor in sports than this Saturday in East Lansing. That's exactly what the 6-0 No. 11-ranked Michigan Wolverines will be heading into when they face the Spartans (4-1) Saturday at noon.
Disrespected. Angry. Determined. Excited. Confident -- and throw in crazy.
Those words best describe Michigan State's football team for this game. They also describe the mindset of the Spartan fan base, which will be flooding into Spartan Stadium for a noon kickoff Saturday just several hours after celebrating Midnight Madness with the MSU basketball squad at the Breslin Center. That student section may be going on no sleep, but they'll be anything but tired.
Heck, Tom Izzo may even have his faced painted.
As for the players: It's a chance to show off their shiny new Nike Pro Combat uniforms; improve to 2-0 in Big Ten play; better their No. 23 ranking and beat their most emphasized rival for a fourth straight year.
The Spartans are also coming off of a bye week. They've had two weeks to prepare for Denard Robinson and Michigan's new packages which feature backup quarterback Devin Gardner. Two weeks to sit back and seethe over Mike Hart's ever-lasting "little brother" comment.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke emphatically labeled the Ohio State game at the end of the year as "The. Most. Important. Game. On . The. Schedule" in his introductory press conference -- pounding his fist with each fragment of that statement.
This game holds that title for MSU.
MSU coach Mark Dantonio will also be coaching his first game under his new lifetime contract with the school, signed last Saturday. In case there was any doubt, Dantonio won't be heading back to Columbus, Ohio -- or anywhere else -- after this season.
Dantonio loves being in East Lansing. And while he may respect it, he also hates the University of Michigan.
His players share that mindset. Just look at defensive tackle Jerel Worthy's new tattoo, which brands a Spartan stomping on the head of that fabled winged Michigan helmet. You know what the no-flash, all-business Dantonio did when asked about that tattoo? He smiled.
Michigan is without doubt a much improved team and one to be taken seriously again form this point on, but this version of the reborn Wolverines haven't gone up against what they're about to Saturday in East Lansing. A perfect storm.

Can't make it to the game on Saturday, be sure to join myself along with Oakland Press sports columnist Pat Caputo for a live chat during the game. Also, get all the latest sports news and breaking updates sent directly to your phone by texting the keyword "opsports" to 22700.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Worthy's tattoo depicts a Missouri helmet, not a UM helmet. Why is Mr. Worthy angry at Missouri?

October 11, 2011 at 2:10 PM 
Anonymous Ross said...

Ha, well the design might be a little off. It is, however, meant to be a Michigan helmet. I guess that's what happens when you have to go to a discount tattoo place becuse you didn't sell off school memorabilia.

October 11, 2011 at 3:29 PM 

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