First and Big Ten

Michigan State Archives

Handing Out Hardware at College Football's Halfway Point

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Kevin Paul

Prepare those speeches and clear some space on the mantle, because it's time to hand out some midseason hardware for the 2009 college football season:
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Carrying On About Big Ten Football: October 10

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Tim Cary

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.-- As many of our readers know, I wrote a column less than two months ago predicting the result of every game in the Big Ten.  I mulled over possible outcomes, considered matchups, carefully weighed home-field advantages, searched for breakout players, tried to predict momentum swings, and came up with a finished product I was very proud of.

This self-proclaimed masterpiece predicted a 6-0 start and (ultimately) a league co-championship for Ron Zook's Fighting Illini.  In my way of thinking, the Illini would rebound from a disappointing 2008 season and return to Rose Bowl-type form, led by Juice Williams, Arrelious Benn, and an explosive offense.

Well...

I'm an idiot.

That thought rang through my head as I stood on the Memorial Stadium turf Saturday afternoon and watched Illinois struggle through a 24-14 loss to the visiting Michigan State Spartans that wasn't nearly as close as the respectable final score indicates. 
Michigan State v Illinois

I wasn't watching a Rose Bowl team.

Or a bowl team.

Or an explosive offense.

(So is it too late to edit that predictions article a bit?)

Oh well.  Pride goes before a fall, right?


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Eddie McGee Experiment Ends Early In Champaign

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Tim Cary

Illinois replaced Eddie McGee at quarterback with former starter Juice Williams early in the third quarter after two horrible drives, one of which ended with a Danny Fortener interception and touchdown return.  When Williams entered the game, the Illini trailed 24-0.  The senior has sparked the Illinois offense to some extent, as the home team finally got on the board with a touchdown late in the third quarter.

With 15 minutes to play at Memorial Stadium, the Michigan State Spartans still lead 24-7.

Halftime In Champaign: Michigan State On Top 17-0

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Tim Cary

The much-discussed Illinois quarterback change hasn't accomplished anything yet for Coach Ron Zook, as his Illini trail 17-0 at halftime of today's Homecoming contest.  The margin could be even more lopsided, but Michigan State running back Glenn Winston fumbled at the Illinois 1-yard line and the home team recovered.

The Spartans have rolled up 281 yards of offense in the first half, compared to only 58 for the Illini.  Michigan State's usual starting quarterback, Kirk Cousins, hasn't played a snap yet, and only time will tell if Illinois star Juice Williams will get a shot in the second half or if Zook sticks with Eddie McGee, who's gone the distance so far.

One injury note: Winston is out for at least the second half after sustaining an injury on the Spartans' last drive.  Look for Larry Caper to pick up a few more snaps, with Caulton Ray working in to the mix more as well. 

Michigan State Spoiling Illinois Homecoming So Far

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Tim Cary

The visiting Michigan State Spartans are out to a quick 14-0 lead after fifteen minutes of play in Champaign.  With starter Kirk Cousins still battling an ankle injury, Keith Nichol has led MSU on back-to-back scoring drives to quiet the Homecoming crowd at Memorial Stadium.

As the first quarter ended, Illinois had finally mounted a solid drive, and Ron Zook's crew faces an important third-down play to start the second quarter.  Can Eddie McGee make something positive happen for the Illini?

Kickoff Only Minutes Away In Illinois

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Tim Cary

The marching band is performing their pregame show, the stands are filling with orange-clad Illini fans, the F-16s have performed their flyover, and kickoff of the Michigan State/Illinois game is only a few minutes away here in Champaign.

After all the talk about nasty weather in Big Ten country, it's an incredibly beautiful day at Memorial Stadium.  The sun is shining brightly, and neither team will have any weather issues to complain about other than, perhaps, "I lost the ball in the sun!"

Obvious storylines here: Eddie McGee is making his first start for the home team, while Michigan State is trying to build on the momentum of last week's overtime win against the Wolverines.

Stay tuned to FirstandBigTen.com for the latest updates from Champaign!


Carrying On About Big Ten Football: October 3

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Tim Cary


Random trivia you care nothing about, part 1:
this week's Microscope game, the showdown between in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State, was ultimately decided on an overtime touchdown run by Larry Caper, a native of Battle Creek, Michigan.

Random trivia you care nothing about, part 2: this week's column, with a focus on the showdown between in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State, is written by Tim Cary, a native of Battle Creek, Michigan.

Moving right along...



UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: MICHIGAN STATE 26, MICHIGAN 20 (OT)

Five things that jumped out at me from the latest epic installment of the Wolverines/Spartans rivalry this weekend...


1.  The Paul Bunyan Trophy game is not for the faint of heart.

In case you didn't notice, there was some serious hitting going on Saturday afternoon in East Lansing, Michigan.  It was one of those games where you halfway expect to hear the public address announcer warn all the participants before kickoff: "Memo to wide receivers: go over the middle at your own risk."

I didn't need surround sound in my living room to hear the massive thuds, crunches, and collisions that permeated the 60+ minutes of football.

There were a handful of plays in particular where the quarterback put the ball on the money to his intended target, only to see the receiver rudely separated from said football by a violent encounter with the nearest defender.  (Let's just say Carlos Brown won't forget Chris L. Rucker anytime soon.) 

Bottom line: these teams don't like each other all that much.  And it was obvious Saturday.

CFB: Michigan St vs Michigan OCT 25

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Big Ten Football: Week 2 Early Games - Handing Out Gold Stars and Throwing Tomatoes

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Kevin Paul

For those not familiar with my work in the past, it's common occurrence to throw a tomato when dissatisfied with a play or performance (on or off the field) - all in all, a playful way to show that a performance could have been better - much better.  

On the counter side, handing out gold stars is necessary for the elite performances.  With that being said, let's touch upon the early games for Week 2 in Big Ten football...

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Look Out, Sparty: Dan LeFevour Can Play

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Tim Cary

If Michigan State were playing Tim Tebow on Saturday afternoon, it would be a big deal.

Okay, maybe not quite OSU/USC big--face it, some presidential elections have had less hype than the Buckeyes-Trojans showdown--but still a big deal.

After all, Tebow's a legend.  Some are referring to him as the best college football player...ever.  Let that sink in for a minute. 

Florida's star quarterback has two national championships, one Heisman trophy, and approximately 87,432 ESPN features.  So if somebody with those gaudy numbers was coming to town, East Lansing would be juiced.

And make no mistake, Tebow does have impressive numbers.  He's rushed for over 2,000 yards in his career.  That would be a nice stat for any running back.  Coming into this season, Tebow had thrown for almost 6,400 yards.  That's over three and a half miles of aerial attack.

Here's the kicker, though.
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Ten by Ten: Can You Top Our Trio?

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Kevin Paul

College football is here and if you haven't heard already, the boys at First and Big Ten are celebrating by having a little contest on Big Ten football.

It's not too late to play - deadline for the first week is Saturday at 7am.  But since the season starts tonight with Indiana taking the field against Eastern Kentucky, we are going to post our picks now.

Here's a recap of the 10 questions for Week 1, plus our predictions:

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A Six-Pack of Trap Games Facing Big Ten Teams in 2009

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Kevin Paul

Coaches preach to the high heavens that a team never, ever looks ahead to a big game, but instead focuses on the current opponent.

Right, and Brutus the Buckeye has a tiny head.

For every hyped up "game of the year" such as Trojans vs. Buckeyes or Ohio State and Penn State, there's a trap game lying in the weeds, ready to up and pounce on the college football world, sending shock waves far and wide.  Take the following six-pack of examples, which could serve as trap games in the Big Ten for 2009...
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Breaking News: Michigan State To Visit Three MAC Schools

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Tim Cary

Michigan State University athletic director Mark Hollis announced a "Celebrate the State" tour for his school's football program today.  This initiative includes a scheduling agreement with three in-state MAC schools, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Western Michigan that will send the Spartans to all three universities for "true" road games in the next 12 years.
 CFB: Michigan State vs Georgia JAN 1
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