LAST WEEK RECAP
Michigan handled their business by avoiding the classic trap game coming out of the bye week. The Wolverines dominated statistically en route to a 33-7 victory.
NEXT UP: vs. Michigan State: 21st, 1.0
PREGAME SP+: U-M by 3.5, Michigan Win Probability 58%
There was a mild flare up online when the line for this game settled at Michigan (-4.5). For yet another week, the Vegas spread is very close to the SP+ projection. Through 7 games in 2021, Bill Connelly’s model is 5-2 against the opening spread in Michigan games.
Michigan Offense (18th) vs. Michigan State Defense (12th)
When Michigan has the ball, this game will feel like the prototypical U-M vs MSU rivalry game. The Wolverines are going to run the ball inside and out, and the Spartans are well aware of this. For large portions of the contest I am sure this will be a gritty battle in the trenches. I have very little doubt that Josh Gattis will basically say “here we come, try to stop us” as a base strategy. Despite all that, the game may largely be decided on the handful of plays that Michigan State sells out to stop the Wolverine running game, and Josh Gattis dials up his counterattack. Cade McNamara must be efficient and seize those opportunities for big chunk plays down the field.
Michigan Defense (9th) vs. Michigan State Offense (53rd)
Michigan State’s offense has proven to be explosive in 2021. Kenneth Walker has been electric running the ball. Payton Thorne connects consistently with Jayden Reed and Jaylen Nailor on the outside. Those two WRs have combined for 11 touchdown receptions through 7 games. However, both Nebraska and Indiana were able to effectively bottle up this Spartan offense. Michigan State managed to gain just 254 total yards in Week 4 versus the Cornhuskers. The Hoosiers’ defense fared even better, holding MSU to only 241 total yards just before the Spartans took their week off. The challenge for Mike MacDonald will be keeping all of the Spartan playmakers inside and in front of his defenders. If the Wolverines’ DBs don’t get beat over the top, and can avoid giving away conversions via penalty, I trust Michigan’s edge defenders to keep Walker contained inside.
PREDICTION: The 2021 battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy is the most anticipated chapter of the game in my lifetime. Both teams are undefeated heading into the game for the first time since 1999, when UMGoBlue.com first appeared on dial up internet. In many ways, these teams are very similar. As is usually the case, Saturday’s victor will be decided by which players step up in key moments and can deliver big time plays. All things considered, I believe Michigan will wear down the Spartans and take control of this game in the 2nd half. Prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster as Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines are trading haymakers (figuratively of course) with Mel Tucker’s Spartans.
Michigan 31 Michigan State 21 (same as preseason)
MICHIGAN RESUME UPDATE (10/24/21), 7-0
- SP+ Overall: 7th (↑1), 19.6
- SP+ Offense: 22nd 18th (↓4), 34.9
- SP+ Defense: 8th (↑1), 15.9
- SP+ Special Teams: 3rd (↓1), 0.6
AP Poll: 6th (same), 1,270
Coaches’ Poll: 6th (same), 1,313
CFP Rank: N/A