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Friday, November 20, 2009

Last Week/This Week

Last Week = W/40-37 over Purdue

Wow! Great win for the Spartans last Saturday against Purdue. According to all the statistics, especially total yards (524 - Purdue, 362 - MSU), the Boilers should've won that game. However, another great performance in the special teams arena by Keyshawn Martin, and some really clutch kicking from, in my mind the best kicker in the country, Brett Swenson, allowed the Spartans to get it done. One of my favorite points from the broadcast was the ESPN crew really pumping up Carson Wiggs' ability to hit from over 60 yards pre-game, and then missing a 49 yarder before the half. Then Swenson came out and nailed two 52 yarders in the third quarter to really put his mark on the game.

Holding Bolden to under 80 yards on 20 carries was huge as far as I'm concerned. However, I would've thought that'd result in some sloppy play by Joey Elliott, which it didn't, as he was brilliant. Going for 373 yards off 39/55 passing is phenomenal, and a QB with those stats doesn't usually lose games. Luckily, again, it was the special teams that stepped up, especially with the blocked FG late, to give MSU the upper hand.

This Week = vs. Penn State, @ 3:30pm – ABC

Two things I was surprised about regarding this game off the bat: 1) It was at 3:30, 2) Not only is it on ABC, it's basically being broadcast nationwide. The other game on at that time is Virginia @ Clemson, and that broadcast isn't even covering all of ACC country. I believe Ohio State @ Michigan is covering the entire country on ABC at Noon, but it's really strange to me that we seemingly get the more prime, late afternoon slot, and are going to have such a large viewing area.

With that in mind, the Spartans may have more TV viewers this week than any other game this season, and they need to step it up for the bowl committees. Last week's gutsy (I love using that word for the PU game) win over the Boilers gave us the needed win, but another W this week could possibly bring the Alamo Bowl to the forefront. I digress though, and I'll get back on the topic of this week's game by saying that the running games between these two teams are drastically different. Evan Royster is averaging 5.7 YPC on the season, and even backup RB Stephfon Green is averaging 4.7, more YPC than either Larry Caper or Edwin Baker. I know I tend to focus on yards per carry as a stat way to often, but I think it's important in terms of making it difficult for an opposing defense to gameplan.

The Nittany Lions didn't play well against the other two Big Ten heavyweights, Ohio State and Iowa, and Daryll Clark threw one and three interceptions in those games respectively. Keeping Clark on his toes with pressure from the front four of MSU is vital, and should happen at least a handful of times as linemen such as Colin Neely have stepped up in recent weeks. The Spartans also hold an advantage in special teams, where Penn State is one of the worst teams in the nation in punt return (107th) and kick return (113th) averages. Kicker Collin Wagner is also only 1/4 from beyond 40 yards so far this season.

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