Thrilled is an understatement. There is such a high demand for tickets that thousands gave Stanford a $250 per ticket NON-refundable deposit on season tickets for next year just to buy their tickets. MSU had thousands of requests for tickets that they couldn’t fill and estimates are as high as 75% of the crowd will be Spartan.
Even with the loss of middle linebacker Max Bullough the Spartans have the best cornerback and safety combo in the nation, and they will load the box and not stop it. All over your wideouts will get single man coverage the entire game. Stanford will be forced to go to the air and the Spartans love that. Stanford will get yards rushing -- they are that good -- but with the Spartans being able to remain in man to man coverage all game they have the best chance of any team that has faced a great Cardinal team.
None. One NFL scout told me recently, “He is the best cornerback prosepect since Champ Bailey, and I have advised our team to get up as far as they need to get him.” The person forgotten is the other cornerback, Trae Waynes. He is younger, but could be better than Dennard.
Aside from Dennard, give me another player or two from the defense that you think will shine on game day.
Just mentioned Trae Waynes, but Darien Harris and Kyler Elsworth at the middle linebacker are great players. Elsworth is very similar to Bullough and would have started on more than half of the other Big Ten teams. Harris is the heir apparent and is faster than both running a 4.5 forty.
Talk to me about Connor Cook's development over the course of the season. He seems to have made steady improvement, culminating in what was probably his best game in the Big Ten championship game victory over Ohio State. What type of quarterback is he? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Do fans have faith in his ability to win a big game on his own, if need be?
He is fearless. That is a good thing, and a bad. He has a short memory and isn’t afraid to attack. Fans have faith in him now, and his offensive coordinator has to turn him loose. I recently said in our magazine that for MSU to win they have to let him go on the attack from the first snap. He is a gunslinger so he will make some bad throws, but amazingly has very few interceptions.
Just looking at the statistics, it doesn't appear that Cook has a favorite target. What can we expect to see from the Michigan State receiving corps?
Probably as many as 10 guys will catch balls. Most young QBs get a favorite go to guy like a security blanket. Not Cook. He loves to get everyone involved.
Jeremy Langford has been on a roll, with eight consecutive 100-yard games. What type of a runner is he?
Power and speed. Teams (like Stanford) all load the box. Finally when MSU gives up running and attacks through the air and people have to drop out of the box with extra men, it is then he has punished people. I said earlier that other than their own defense in practice, this is the best defense the Spartans have faced. MSU must make Stanford unload the box to defend their aerial attack for Langford to have a big day.
Our punter is the nation’s best. Our kickoffs are fine. Punt returns and kickoff returns are not good and a place that Stanford can exploit.
What about the coaching staff? Do fans credit the Spartans' success to head coach Mark Dantonio, or is defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi the star of the staff?
Top to bottom this is one of the best staffs in college football. Fans love the entire staff and the fans know them because Coach Dantonio makes them available every week to the media. All of them.
Finally, how do you think the game will play out? Give me a final score and a general idea of how you expect the game to go.
I think Stanford is awesome. MSU will be able to load the box on defense, and when Stanford has to go to the air they won’t unload the box blitzing the entire time with the best defensive backfield in the nation. If MSU goes on the offensive attack through the air I think they can force Stanford out of the box to adjust to the Spartans air attack. I think MSU will force Stanford to unload the box because of the passing game, and MSU will do enough to win, 17-14.