Signs of Life
East Lansing, MI - It only took one conference matchup for Michigan State to return to the win column, but extending that momentum could be difficult against a Big Ten foe that has given the Spartans problems in recent years.
Looking to make it two in a row on Saturday, the 22nd-ranked Spartans try for just their fourth victory in 12 matchups versus a visiting Wisconsin team that will be aiming to build on its first conference win of the season and won't have one of its offensive stars available.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Michigan State –4.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 87% of bets for this game have been placed on Michigan State –4.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Michigan State (7-2, 4-1) won three straight conference games for the first time since opening 4-0 in Big Ten play in 2003 before enduring a 45-7 defeat to then-No. 12 Ohio State on Oct. 18 that halted a six-game overall winning streak and dropped the team out of the rankings.
But the Spartans quickly regained their confidence and their national recognition with a 35-21 victory at Michigan last Saturday, ending their six-game losing streak versus the Wolverines and an eight-game slide in Ann Arbor.
Running back Javon Ringer's touchdown broke a tie midway through the fourth quarter, helping Michigan State improve to 7-2 for the first time since 2003.
"Every football game has some times when you're going to go up and down and handle some adverse moments, and we just kept playing one play at a time," Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said.
Ringer finished with 37 carries for 194 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Brian Hoyer went 17-for-29 for 282 yards and a season high-tying three TD passes en route to earning his first Big Ten offensive player of the week award.
Michigan State is tied with No. 13 Ohio State for second in the conference, one game behind third-ranked Penn State.
But before the Spartans prepare for their road matchup against the Nittany Lions in the regular-season finale on Nov. 22, they must first focus on beating the Badgers (4-4, 1-4).
While the Spartans own a 27-19 advantage in the all-time series, they have dropped eight of the last 11 meetings and fell 37-34 at then-No. 9 Wisconsin on Sept. 29, 2007.
Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum turned in one of his best performances in that game, finishing with 10 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown.
But the 21-year-old star underwent season-ending surgery on his broken left fibula after he was injured in the Badgers' 27-17 win over visiting Illinois last Saturday - a game that ended their four-game losing streak and was their first Big Ten victory of the year.
Beckum, who returned to Wisconsin for his senior season, ended his collegiate career with 159 catches for 2,149 yards and 11 touchdowns to rank third in program history in both receptions and yards receiving.
Wisconsin persevered in spite of losing Beckum, rallying behind Dustin Sherer as he finished 12-for-22 for 174 yards and two touchdowns - both to David Gilreath, who made three catches for 71 yards.
"Obviously we lost four games in a row but the 1-0 mentality has to kick in more than at any time now just because every game in front of us is an opportunity to make us better," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said.
Wisconsin held Illinois to just 88 yards on the ground, but is surrendering 133.3 rushing yards per game. The Badgers will likely have their hands full with Ringer, who leads the nation with 1,373 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. He ran 10 times for 145 yards against the Badgers last season.
Michigan State should likewise have a tough task in containing a Wisconsin running game that averages 190.3 yards - tied for third-best in the conference.
P.J. Hill, who leads the Badgers with 76.6 yards per game, didn't start and was held to nine yards on three carries last Saturday. Hill, who rushed 34 times for 155 yards and two TDs against the Spartans in 2007, will likely return to the starting lineup this weekend.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
MICHIGAN ST is 6-6 against the spread versus WISCONSIN since 1992
WISCONSIN is 7-5 straight up against MICHIGAN ST since 1992
7 of 10 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
MICHIGAN ST is 1-0 against the spread versus WISCONSIN over the last 3 seasons
WISCONSIN is 1-0 straight up against MICHIGAN ST over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at MICHIGAN ST since 1992
MICHIGAN ST is 4-2 against the spread versus WISCONSIN since 1992
MICHIGAN ST is 4-2 straight up against WISCONSIN since 1992
3 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
[QB] Dustin Sherer expected to start - None - 10/20/08
(!) [RB] P.J. Hill left last game, ~?~ - Foot - 10/19/08
[RB] John Clay upgraded to probable - Toe - 10/21/08
[OL] Kraig Urbik downgraded to doubtful - Knee - 10/22/08
[OL] Gabe Carimi missed last game, ~?~ - Knee - 10/19/08
[DE] Kirk DeCremer out for the season - Back - 08/31/08
[LB] Jonathan Casillas injured last game, ~?~ - Hand - 10/19/08
[LB] Blake Sorensen upgraded to probable - Hamstring - 10/21/08
[CB] Aaron Henry is out indefinitely, likely to redshirt. - Knee - 09/25/0
[DB] Mario Goins upgraded to probable - Concussion - 10/21/08
[DL] Brendan Kelly expected to miss rest of season. - Arm - 10/07/08
[S] Enrique Shaw has left the team. - Personal - 08/15/08
(!) [QB] Brian Hoyer injured last game, probable. - Hand - 10/18/08
[S] Roderick Jenrette has left the team. - Personal - 08/31/08
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Posted: 10/28/08 6:39 PM