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The 3-2-1 Preview: 3 things we want to see, 2 key stats and 1 best bet for MSU football vs. Michigan

Let’s circle some wagons here

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back. Let’s...uhhh...put last week all behind us?

If not for nothing, at least the results this weekend won’t be a surprise. SURELY that’ll make it an easier pill to swallow, right?

Below we’ve got some things we want to see and stats to look at if the Spartans want to pull of a stunner and as well as just being able to get a better idea of this squad.

Let’s get into it.

3 Things We Want To See

Unwarranted confidence

I look at what happened to Rutgers last week. They had no reason to believe in themselves going into the game because a). they’re Rutgers and b). they’re Rutgers. Within 10 minutes of game time both units got a burst of confidence with the Scarlet Knights offense walking down the field on the opening drive with a trio of third down conversions and the defense getting some moxie with a strip sack to set up their squad on the one yard line.

Our Spartans are walking into this game with (probably) damaged confidence from last week. This is WAY easier said than done, but this team needs to find a reason to believe early on in this game. If they go into the second quarter with a few three-and-outs and a 10-0 deficit, I just don’t see the upset happening. Energy is going to have be found early in this one, or we’ll have another game where the team is walking around with thousand-yard stares for the afternoon.

More of these guys on the field

Provided they are healthy and able to play, let’s get more of the following players into the mix more often: Julian Barnett, Nick Samac, J.D. Duplain, Elijah Collins and Tre’Von Morgan.

Julian Barnett is the obvious one — going to go out on a limb and say he’s one of the best athletes on the team. It’s puzzling that he can’t find a way on the field to start the season on either side of the ball.

Nick Samac and J.D. Duplain (and maybe even Devontae Dobbs should he be healthy) — this interior line is dying, man. Let’s just get the new blood in there to prepare for the future while also probably playing the more talented guys of the bunch.

Elijah Collins...he’s just the starting running back. Play him off the jump. Let’s not overthink things.

Tre’Von Morgan would be nice to see on the field with his 6-foot-7 frame. Hopefully MSU is in the goal line scenarios where it would make sense to trot him out there.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Michigan State Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports


This will be the most obvious “thing we want to see” the whole year. There’s two reasons we want to see this, and the first one is obvious — limited turnovers increase your chance of winning (SMOLDERING HOT TAKE THERE).

The second reason we want to see is this because, damn, it’s really tough to get a read on what this team and offense can be when you turn it over nine f***ing times (counting turning it over on downs). Hopefully this squad can keep the number of turnovers to, I don’t know, two or less? I just want to be able to watch this team and either say “holy smokes, this offense is actually not that terrible!” or “goodness gracious, this offense just isn’t good at all” without a historically fluky turnover margin happening.



Each team has just played one game in these odd times, so allow me to burn up a stat on gambling history. I feel like that’s more concrete than anything in either box score from last Saturday.

Since 1997 MSU has been betting underdogs in 18 games. The Spartans record against the spread in those games is — you guessed it — 10-8. That also includes a 4-3 split when MSU is double-digit underdogs as well with just one outright win in that circumstance (the 2017 “Blame It On The Raaaaaaaaaaaaain” Game).

Do what you will with that. If 10-8 against the spread is enough to fulfill the “The Spartans always get up for this rivalry!!” then perfect.


That’s the yards per carry Michigan got against Minnesota last week. All right, yes it was against a Gophers team with COVID issues. And yes, it’s just a one game sample size. But 8.2 yards per carry is a). absurd and, b). leads the nation.

MSU held Rutgers to a lowly 2.6 yards per carry, but obviously that didn’t end up mattering. Regardless, MSU’s front seven is coming off a decent game in the run stopping department and UM’s offense is coming off an elite performance. As far as exciting matchups go, run offense vs. run defense could be the most competitive to enjoy.

1 Best Bet

MSU +24.5, over/under 52

Well last week started out with a big ol’ YIKES as the under was pretty much busted within what felt like six minutes.

We’ll bounce back — let’s not ignore that we are 16-9-1 going back the last two seasons.

With that said, I hate everything about this line and total. I have close to zero confidence one way or another. I can see a lot of scenarios playing out, but one I can’t see is MSU’s defense holding UM at bay. That leads me to settling with over 52.

Pick: Over 52

Record: 0-1


What is your best bet for MSU vs. UM?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    MSU +24.5
    (72 votes)
  • 38%
    UM -24.5
    (94 votes)
  • 22%
    Over 52
    (54 votes)
  • 10%
    Under 52
    (25 votes)
245 votes total Vote Now