TicketCity’s weekly ranking of the 10 hottest games in college football is designed to identify the match-ups with the strongest ticket demand on a weekly basis. This week Michigan State vs. Michigan ranks #1 on our list. Contributor Jeff K. gives the run-down on who will win this stage-setting match-up.
Why Michigan State will win the biggest game of week one:
Rivals square off as Michigan comes to East Lansing to face a red-hot Michigan State team. The Spartans have won four in a row and rank in the Top 25 for the first time this season. Defense has been paving the way for Michigan State. The Spartans lead the country in total defense and have five defensive scores. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner will need to protect the ball against an aggressive Michigan State defense that gives up only 12 points a game. Michigan is last in the Big Ten with 17 turnovers, and Gardner has been shaky on the road. The Spartan offense is not flashy, but it may only need to play mistake-free football to beat its hated rival.
Why I could be wrong:
Sometimes you just have to throw the stats out the window in a rivalry game (see: Texas against Oklahoma). Michigan is coming off a bye week, giving the Wolverines two weeks to prepare for the pressure they will see from Michigan State’s defense. If Gardner and the offense can strike fast, it will put pressure on a very vanilla Spartan offense. Michigan State ranks 89th in the NCAA in overall offense and just 109th in passing. Don’t be surprised to see the Wolverines stack the box and force Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook to beat them with his arm.
Why you don’t want to miss this one:
The stakes are high in this heated rivalry. The winner is in the driver’s seat for the Legends Division title and the Big Ten Championship game. This game could be a defensive battle. Michigan is averaging just 14 points a game against Michigan State the last three seasons. The Spartans, meanwhile, have struggled to put points on the board against quality opponents. A lot is on the line – recruiting edge, state bragging rights and the inside track to the conference championship game. Who do you think will win the Battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy?
Jeff Kubiszyn is a long-time college football fan and joins TicketCity this season to highlight the biggest game of the week. He is by no means a college football expert, except at the dinner table.