Probably one of the most anticipated college football Games of the season pits two teams that met last year. Both are Top 10 squads at the moment and could easily finish that way by the end of the season. Michigan State hosts Oregon on Saturday, in hopes of a revenge win as a -3.5 point favorite at 5 Dimes.
Both of these teams got opening wins, but some questionable defense is what could cost them in this matchup. Starting with the home team, Michigan State got by with a 37-24 win at Western Michigan last weekend, but allowed an upsetting 365 yards through the air, and the Game wasn’t locked up until late. Spartans quarterback Connor Cook didn’t have the greatest of Games, completing only 15-of-31 passes, overthrowing many targets, against a less-than-average defense. Although as expected, their lines dominated both sides of the ball.
Oregon had a similar effort in a 61-42 win over FCS side Eastern Washington, but they also allowed 438 passing yards and five touchdowns to a high-flying passing attack. Of course, they also won the battle on the line, rushing for a ridiculous 485 yards and six TDs themselves. The good news for the Ducks was that new QB Vernon Adams had a successful outing, completing 19-of-25 passes for 246 yards and two TDs, along with 94 yards on the ground.
Marcus Mariota was the difference maker in last year’s matchup and if Oregon wants to get a big road win this weekend, Vernon Adams will be the key to that.
Expect there to be plenty of scoring in this Game, maybe more so than last year’s 46-27 win for the Ducks. If MSU didn’t collapse in the second half and Scorejust three points, there could’ve been a lot more. Both of these defenses took a step back in the offseason, but the offenses should be just as good (although losing Mariota is pretty major).
Cook and the MSU offense are in the same mold as previous versions, although with a stable of running backs instead of just one like Jeremy LAngford or Le’Veon Bell leading the way. With a top offensive line, the Spartans will run plenty in this Game. They managed 3.4 yards per carry in last year’s contest. The question will be whether Cook can provide consistency for the Spartans. He’ll need to do much better than the effort against WMU.
The Ducks had success in large part due to Mariota’s intangibles last year and there will be a lot riding on Adams’ shoulder in this Game. They averaged 4.3 yards per carry last year, but could find more trouble rushing the ball in this contest. The Spartans stopped a decent Western Michigan ground Game to 23 carries for 18 yards last week, and this Game will be at night in East LAnsing. Their defensive line may be even better than a year ago, as well.
Of course, Oregon’s weapons are endless with Royce Freeman and Byron Marshall, among others. But if the running Game isn’t putting in 8.5 yards per carry (like vs. EWU) what can Vernon Adams do? Adams had a concussion scare after a late hit, but he should be good to go. The success of this offense won’t often depend on his play this year, but this Game is different against a stout defensive line. Adams will have to find success through the air to get an upset on the road.
As seen last week, Oregon’s secondary is young and could be a problem this season. If Cook can capitalize on that, MSU’s defense should do enough under the lights to get the huge win for the Spartans. After a disappointing finish in last year’s Game, they’ve been waiting for this one for a while and the advantage goes to the home team here.
Our Pick – The Spartans are drawing 65% of the action here and it’s certainly understandable. We love revenge Games as much as the next guy. Especially when those revenge Games are at home.
But we rate this Game a coin flip and if last weeks defensive showings by both are any indication, this Game will be in doubt all the way through. In that type of a setting, we prefer to be taking rather than laying. Oregon +4