Well, the big one is here. The Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans are ready to battle it out as top 10 teams for the first time since 1964. Both teams are undefeated at 7-0. The winner of this game controls their destiny in the Big Ten East, while the loser sees championship hopes dim. This is year seven for Jim Harbaugh. The 7-0 start will be forgotten if Michigan loses this game. They need this one, and here’s how they get it done.
Take care of the football
This is going to be one of those games that should be close the whole way through. In a tight game like that, turnovers can be the difference. One bad play that results in a turnover can completely change the momentum and flip the result of the game. Past Michigan teams have made some of these crucial turnovers in big games during the Harbaugh era. Execution and limiting mistakes is huge in a game like this.
Make some plays through the air
While Michigan does arguably have the most dynamic running back tandem in the nation with Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins, the Wolverines need to make some plays in the passing game to win this one. This is the best team Michigan has faced all year and they will likely need a balanced attack. One weakness the Spartans have is their passing defense. Michigan State has the worst pass defense in the Big Ten, allowing 285 yards through the air per game. Western Kentucky was able to hang 488 yards through the air on the Spartan defense. An explosive 79 yards touchdown pass put Michigan over the edge the last time they were in East Lansing, and that could be needed again.
Avoid mental mistakes and stay composed
Emotions are going to running at an all time in this game. This is maybe the biggest game in the rivalries rich history. Things are going to be chippy. In what should be a tight contest, it’s going to be key to keep composure and avoid costly penalties. Coaches and players stressed the importance of this to the media this week. Michigan needs to let their play do the talking and say what they want to say after the game is won.
Embrace the road environment
Seeing how Michigan handled the road tests in Madison and Lincoln was awesome. They didn’t flinch at adversity and channeled the road environment well. Michigan took their opponents music and energy and used it as their own. They need to do the same this weekend. I write this article in my friend’s East Lansing apartment, and let me tell you, these students are going to be rowdy. It’s going to be a challenging environment. Don’t flinch, and embrace it.