Leadup to Michigan vs Michigan State 2021

Leadup to Michigan vs Michigan State 2021

Tyler Krebs, Sports Writer

On October 30th, 2021 the Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans will play each other in East Lansing. This matchup is set to be one of the best so far this season in the Big 10 and maybe even the entire league! Currently, Michigan is ranked #6 in the AP Poll and Michigan State is ranked #8. These rankings make this the highest ranked matchup between these two programs since 1961. Now, I will catch you up on how both of these teams have done this season and what each squad can do to win this huge game.

Michigan Wolverines: 2020

 The Wolverines this season have been so much better compared to last season. In 2020, Michigan started off their season ranked #16 in the AP Poll. This ranking came after the Big 10 decided to play the 2020 season, but made the schedule all Big 10, which resulted in any out of conference games being canceled. Some of these games for Michigan were matchups against Washington, Ball State, and Arkansas State. In the Wolverines first game, they played then #21 Minnesota, who was coming off a great 2019 season. In this game, Michigan completely dominated the Golden Gophers on the road, beating them 49-24. They got this win from a pretty good game from QB Joe Milton and a  great 2 touchdown day on the ground from RB Hassan Haskins. This win shot Michigan up to the #13 spot in the nation. This ranking set up a matchup on Halloween against the Michigan State Spartans, who were unranked. #13 Michigan rolled into this game looking to win, but Michigan State had other ideas. Behind a great 17/32, 323 yard and 3 touchdown performance by State QB Rocky Lombardi, the Spartans were able to take the game with a shocking 27-24 upset over the Wolverines. Michigan after this loss couldn’t recover, losing 38-21 against the #13 Indiana Hoosiers as the #23 team in the nation and against the Wisconsin Badgers 49-11 in the Big House. After the Indiana and Wisconsin losses, the Wolverines were 1-3 and unranked as they headed into their next matchup versus Rutgers. Fortunately for Michigan, the Rutgers weren’t that good either and the Wolverines were able to take the Scarlet Knights down 48-42 in triple overtime. They accomplished this because of a fantastic 4 touchdown performance from backup QB Cade McNamara and a 2 receiving touchdown night from WR Cornelius Johnson. Finally, the Wolverines played the Penn State Nittany Lions in Ann Arbor, where they lost 27-17 against another struggling Big 10 team. This game ended up being the final one for the Wolverines, as COVID-19 ravaged the team and resulted in games against Maryland, Ohio State, and Iowa being canceled. This resulted in Michigan finishing the 2020 season with a 2-4 record.

Michigan Wolverines: 2021

 After the horrific 2020 season, the Wolverines had a couple of changes. Michigan QB Joe Milton after a horrible season with the Wolverines transferred to Tennessee. This led to backup QB Cade McNamara starting for Michigan. This choice ended up being a pretty good one and after extending head coach Jim Harbaugh, the Wolverines were ready for an unsure 2021 season. To start this season off, Michigan faced Western Michigan and clobbered them 47-14 in Ann Arbor because of the running game going for a total of 335 yards! Unfortunately, they lost star WR Ronnie Bell to injury during the game. Next, the Wolverines continued their domination at home with wins against the Washington Huskies 31-10, Northern Illinois 63-10, and Rutgers 20-13. These victories propelled them up from being unranked to the #14 team in the nation at the beginning of October. Then, Michigan faced their supposedly toughest opponent so far, the 1-2 Wisconsin Badgers. To start the season, Wisconsin was ranked #12, but losses against Penn State and Notre Dame dropped them out of the AP Poll. This game was pretty close in the first half, but the Wolverines completely destroyed the Badgers in the second half, even taking the Badgers fourth quarter jump around for themselves. As the game went on, the passing game was too much for Wisconsin to deal with. Wolverines quarterback Cade McNamara threw for 197 yards and 2 touchdowns to WR Cornelius Johnson, which resulted in a 38-17 victory for Michigan. Finally, the Wolverines were able to win a close game against Nebraska 32-29 off of a game winning 39 yard field goal from kicker Jake Moody and destroyed Northwestern 33-7 at home after a bye week. As a result, Michigan is currently 7-0 and ranked #6 in the poll.

 Michigan State Spartans: 2020

 The Michigan State Spartans were a very different team a year ago compared to now. In 2020, the Spartans were pretty bad, finishing with a 2-5 record. Part of this defiantly came from the shortened COVID season and losing long time head coach Mark Dantonio and having to replace him. They eventually found his replacement in former Colorado Buffalos head coach Mel Tucker. With the new hire, the Spartans headed into the season. After the late Big 10 start due to COVID, Michigan State faced Rutgers, who they lost to 38-27 at home. Then, the Spartans headed into a matchup against Michigan in the Big House, who looked really good after a win against Minnesota. However, State was ready for them and they won 27-24 because of a huge game from QB Rocky Lombardi, who threw for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns. With this upset, they ruined their rival’s season. Then, the quality of their play dipped down again, with two losses to Iowa 49-7 and Indiana 24-0. After this, the Spartans actually got another huge upset, beating the eventual Big 10 West Champion Northwestern Wildcats 29-20. They won this matchup because of a decent passing day and good performance from their defense, who forced two interceptions from Wildcats QB Peyton Ramsey. Finally, Michigan State finished off their season with two losses to Ohio State 52-12 and Penn State 39-24. This resulted in the Michigan State Spartans finishing the season unranked  and with no bowl game.

Michigan State Spartans: 2021

  The Spartans after a pretty bad 2020 season looked to rebound with now second year head coach Mel Tucker. In the offseason, the picked up RB Kenneth Walker, who would become the biggest reason for their success in 2021. To start the 2021 season, State faced the Northwestern Wildcats again, but this time the game was in Evanston. However, the Spartans didn’t seem to pick up on this fact and dominated Northwestern on the road 38-21 behind a great rushing day from Kenneth Walker, who ran for 264 yards on 23 carries and 4 TOUCHDOWNS! Michigan State in Week 2 beat up on Youngstown State and won 42-14. The next week, the Spartans headed to a huge matchup against the #24 Miami Hurricanes. This game, the Spartans got it done through the air with a good performance from QB Payton Thorne who threw for 261 yards and 4 touchdowns. They also won this game through good defense, who intercepted Miami QB D’Eriq King twice. Michigan State as a result won the game 38-17. This huge win got them into the rankings as the #20 team in the nation. They followed this game with a super close victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers 23-20 in overtime. The Spartans were able to defeat Nebraska because of a 62 yard punt return from WR Jayden Reed to tie the game up 20-20 late in the fourth quarter and a 21 yard game winning field goal by kicker Matt Coghlin in OT. Michigan State the next couple of weeks destroyed Western Kentucky 48-31 at home and beat Rutgers 31-13 on the road. Finally, the Spartans faced the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington. Michigan State could have won this game by more, but they allowed the Hoosiers to get back into the game before they eventually closed them out and won the game 20-15. The Michigan State Spartans are currently 7-0 this season and are ranked as the #8 team in the nation.

Michigan vs Michigan State Possibilities:

 This game should probably be a pretty hard fought battle. Both teams have a great running game, with Michigan having running backs Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum, while Michigan State has RB Kenneth Walker. Also, both teams are in the top 3 for offense in the Big 10 and Michigan has the #1 defense in the Big 10, while the Spartans are at the #7 spot. In this game, I think Michigan could win because of their great running game and defense if they’re able to limit RB Kenneth Walker and WR Jayden Reed. If the Wolverines want to win this game, they’ll need a big performance from QB Cade McNamara. I think Michigan State could win this game from big days by Kenneth Walker and Jayden Reed. Also, the Spartans will need QB Payton Thorne to have a good day and the defense to step up and limit Michigan’s running backs.

In conclusion, this matchup between the #6 Michigan Wolverines and the #8 Michigan State Spartans will be one you don’t want to miss. The amount of star players in this game and playoff implications it could have later on this season are too huge to pass on. Finally, expect a great showdown between these programs this Saturday and be ready for one of their undefeated seasons to end in heart break.