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Much to prove for UM, MSU/Paul Peterson

August 20, 2011
By Paul Peterson , The Daily Mining Gazette

One season is just that ... one season. But the upcoming football campaigns at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University will present huge challenges for both.

The Wolverines and Spartans have one thing in common as another season gets ready to unfold - they're coming off embarrassing losses in bowl games.

UM was mashed by Mississippi State, while MSU was literally torn to shreds by an Alabama team that was probably the finest in the nation.

Still, the memory of those stinging losses in the postseason can be erased with a couple of solid showings to start a new season.

The Wolverines, who made a huge mistake hiring now departed skipper Rich Rodriguez a couple of years ago, will get a fresh start from new coach Brady Hoke. RichRod never figured out that rules had to be observed, even at a football power.

The virtually unknown Hoke appears to be one of those no-nonsense type of coaches, much like Lloyd Carr, who enjoyed a good amount of success in his tenure in Ann Arbor.

Under Rodriguez, Michigan turned into a team that tried to outscore opponents with a glitzy offensive scheme. The problem was that Rodriguez forgot entirely about his defense.

What Maize and Blue fan can forget that memorable 67-65 basketball-like win over Illinois last year? Or that humiliating crunching to those despicable Ohio State Buckeyes?

Still, the Wolverines appear to have enough talent to be a slightly above average team.

Quarterback Denard Robinson is a talented playmaker and he'll have to carry the load. The defense will no doubt be better under Hoke, but whether it can stop down the likes of Notre Dame, MSU, new conference member Nebraska and Ohio State is doubtful.

Michigan does get Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State at home, however.

Michigan State, on the other hand, has to prove it belongs in the upper echelon of the Big 10 after gaining a tie for the league championship a year ago.

Under head coach Mark Dantonio, the Spartans have shown the consistency that had been missing for a couple of decades. That missing consistency frustrated State fans to no end.

Senior quarterback Kirk Cousins has a promising bunch of receivers to throw to, and there's also a very good runner in Edwin Baker. Scoring points shouldn't be a problem in East Lansing this autumn.

It's on defense that MSU may have some problems. Slowing down high-powered foes like Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Nebraska could be difficult.

But the Green and White appears to have the talent to get to an upper tier bowl game - the so-called measuring stick these days in college football where the buck comes first.

Michigan State has also taken over the No. 1 spot in the state. Ultimately, it has to keep that going in order to beat Michigan to the top recruits.

It should be an interesting season.



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