5 things I'd like to see from Michigan State this weekend at Central Michigan
Michigan State came up with a big win last Saturday at Indiana, setting their season back in the right direction after a sluggish start.
The last of their nonconference games is this weekend at home against Central Michigan (Noon ET; TV: FoxSports1). The Spartans are hoping to raise their record to 3-1 before the meat of their Big Ten schedule kicks in.
Here are the five things I’d like to see from Michigan State this weekend when they take on Central Michigan:
1. Don’t play down to their opponent
Michigan State was preseason No. 11 in the Associated Press poll and everyone looked at this schedule and thought the Spartans would cruise into October. That hasn’t been the case, as the Spartans barely beat Utah State and home in the opener and then went to Arizona State and lost. After a week off, they looked much better last week against Indiana, so maybe that’s a sign they can get on a roll now. Central Michigan is just 1-3, with a win over Maine but losses to Kentucky, Kansas and Northern Illinois.
2. Understand the value of each game now
What the slow start has done is put a premium on every game now, and style points are just as important as wins. The Spartans need to look good on both sides of the ball and rout the Chippewas. Michigan State is down to No. 21 now in the AP poll and they don’t want to fall any further. It’s time to really get this season rolling. A win by 30-plus points would be a nice thing.
3. Limit turnovers, which has been an issue
Even in the win against Indiana, there were still a few too many issues. The biggest one was turnovers, where quarterback Brian Lewerke threw two interceptions and the Spartans also lost two fumbles. Michigan State can probably turn it over some against Central Michigan and still get away with it, but that’s not going to be true down the road. They need to clean this up, and they might as well start now.
4. Keep up pressure on opposing quarterbacks
Michigan State made life miserable for Indiana quarterback Peyton Ramsey Saturday night, posting five sacks and harassing him into a lot of quick throws. That wasn’t the case the first two weeks, when opposing quarterbacks sat back and threw for a combined 699 yards in two games. This should be one of the strengths of this team, and we didn’t see it until the Indiana game. We definitely need to see more of it this weekend against Central Michigan.
5. Getting the running game going
Outside of Jalen Nailor’s 75-yard touchdown run, the Michigan State running attacked account for just 56 yards on 39 carries. Sure, Indiana’s defense is much better than it has been through the years, but that’s still downright unacceptable. I understand that senior running back LJ Scott was out, but the Spartans should be capable of doing better. I’d like to see at least 200 yards on the ground this weekend, whether Scott returns to the lineup or not.