No. 7 Michigan State Spartans (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. No. 3 Oregon Ducks (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date and Time: Saturday, September 6th, 2014. 6:30PM EST
Where: Autzen Stadium Eugene, O.R.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MSU +12/U of O -12
Over/Under Total: 58
ESPN’s College GameDay will be in Eugene, Oregon this week as the no. 3 Oregon Ducks host the no. 7 Michigan State Spartans in a big showdown among two of the top ranked teams in the country. For Duck nation, most feel that Oregon should benefit with college football’s new 4 team playoff this year as losses to Stanford has derailed the Ducks last two National Championship campaigns. This season the Duck’s national championship campaign could withstand a tough loss where it could not have in years past thanks to the new college football playoff system and that has expectations extremely high once again in Eugene.
This year the Ducks return 9 starters from one of the nation’s most potent offenses in 2013, led by Heisman hopeful quarterback Marcus Mariota, and are poised to wreak havoc on defenses once again. An undefeated season is perfectly possible and a national championship campaign is ready to launch. However, Spartans coach Mark Dantonio will bring one of college football’s best defenses into Eugene this week in a classic matchup between an unstoppable offense and an unbending defense. The Spartans will be trying to accomplish what Stanford has been able to do each of the last two years by beating Oregon with strength over speed and winning the battle in the trenches to make a case for their own national championship campaign.
After a Big Ten Championship, Rose Bowl victory, and 13-1 season in 2013, the Spartans have even bigger goals in 2014. Offensively, Michigan State returns nearly all of their talent from last year’s group. Quarterback Connor Cooke returns after tossing 22 touchdowns and just 6 picks last season. Running back Jeremy Langford returns after a monstrous 1,400 yard season that was topped off with 18 touchdowns on the ground. Not to mention the Spartans leading receiving from 2013 return with senior Tony Lippett.
Last week Lippett caught 4 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns as the Spartans blew out Jacksonville State 45-7. Cook hit 12 of his 13 passes for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns to highlight the passing attack. The Spartans offense has a lot of the tools and talent returning at the skill positions to have a big season. Perhaps they have enough firepower to contend with the Ducks this week. However do not expect Michigan State to try to trade scores with the Ducks in an offensive shootout. Coach Dantonio will put more focus on the running game this week as the Spartans attempt to keep the Oregon offense on the sidelines.
The big question for Michigan State this weekend is how will this team play on the road in their first big game of the season in a hostile environment? Better yet, how will a rather young back 7 play against the Ducks quick striking and speedy pass offense? Last week Oregon flexed their muscles by routing South Dakota 62-13. The Ducks led 41-13 at the half before easing off the throttle. Still, Marcus Mariota threw for 267 yards with 3 touchdowns to lead the Ducks to 673 total yards on offense. Junior receiver Byron Marshall aided the cause by leading the team with 8 catches for 138 yards and two scores. Needless to say, the offense appeared in sync and on rhythm right out of the gates.
Defensively, the Ducks had a few stumbles early in the game allowing the Coyotes to score 13 in the first half. However, the defense played much better in the 2nd half and held South Dakota scoreless the final 32 minutes. The Oregon defense has made sound improvements over the last few years despite transitioning through several different defensive coordinators. This season Don Pellum has taken over the defensive coordinator role in the wake of Nick Aliotti’s retirement. Oregon’s offense is among the best in college football each and every year. However, it is the Oregon defense that I believe holds the key to Oregon’s success and fulfilling their national championship hopes in 2014. Luckily for Ducks fans, they appear to be headed in the right direction.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is a tough game to predict so early in the season especially if you consider the Spartans inexperience in their secondary. I am going to stay away from the side prediction, but I do like the over 58 as a solid play. Good luck!