Michigan State is in the midst of an epic meltdown this season that nobody saw coming.
With No. 23 Michigan hosting the Spartans this Saturday, things could change drastically… for better or worse.
After a tough 20-3 loss to No. 20 Notre Dame at home, the Spartans struggled to put away Eastern Michigan in Spartan Stadium and followed it up with a deflating 17-16 loss to Ohio State.
Just two games later, the Green and White fell in a homecoming double-overtime loss to Iowa 19-16 that ended with an Andrew Maxwell interception.
Now at just 4-3, with a 1-2 Big Ten record, the Spartans are looking to somehow salvage what is left of a season that looks to be circling the proverbial drain.
Enter rival Michigan.
Michigan State has taken down their in-state rival for four-straight years, giving a new perspective to the power dynamic in the Big Ten Conference. But with a dismal performance on the year thus far, is it too late for the Spartans to get back some of that magic they hoped would carry them to a Big Ten title in 2012?
One thing is for sure, the usual back-and-forth banter between the two teams leading up to the game has seemingly been non-existent. After heckling Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson early in the season for a devastating 41-14 loss to Alabama, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio swiftly stifled his player’s quips that were pointed at the Wolverines’ QB on Twitter.
Now, after a couple of dominant performances over Purdue and Illinois, Robinson looks to make the Spartans pay for their egotistical jabs. Coach Dantonio, though, is out to make sure his team doesn’t lose focus on the player under center in Ann Arbor.
“We need to make sure we know where he’s at at all times that (No.) 16 is on the playing field,” Dantonio said. “He can make a play at any given moment and turn a game around. He’s been a great football player at Michigan, and he’ll always be remembered as that.”
Robinson’s approach for the upcoming battle against MSU could look different than those of his past. Michigan State star defensive end William Gholston has seen how Robinson has altered his game play, and notes that he’ll be ready to adjust accordingly in order to succeed and keep his team’s offense on the field.
“I don’t think he’s been scrambling this year like that,” Gholston said. “I think he’s been trying to stay in the pocket a little longer and throw.”
Either way, the power struggle in the Big Ten Legends Division could come down to the winner of Saturday’s game in the Big House. Michigan has had enough with four-consecutive losses to their “little brother”, while Michigan State is just getting used to having the upper hand in the Mitten State.
Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/MichaelFerro for live, up-to-the-moment coverage from the press box and post game press conferences this Saturday from Ann Arbor.