Obviously both teams play for a lot more than a megaphone trophy, but who ever wins it this year will be able to hold on to it until 2016 before it’s up for grabs again.
But holding the trophy and bragging rights for three years is not Michigan State’s biggest goal. A 4-0 record and a powerful start to the season before they hit a brutal Big Ten scheduled is what State is really looking for.
The last time State has been able to accomplish a 4-0 start was in 2010, and that year they managed to go 11-2 and got to share the Big Ten Championship.
This year, to get that 4-0 start they will have to get by a number 22th ranked Notre Dame. Notre Dame has won the last two against State, but State has managed to win 10 out of the last 16 making it quite a lopsided series.
Either way, some might say that even with State’s stellar defense (ranked #1) that Notre Dame still holds a slight advantage on Saturday’s game.
Before last weeks game against Youngstown State, Michigan State’s offense has shown little spark, only netting two offensive touchdowns in the first two games of the season. Although they managed to put up 57 points against Youngstown last week, they struggled against Western Michigan and South Florida, two teams they should have had a field day with.
This was partly due to the shuffling in-and-out of three different quarterbacks, Connor Cook, Andrew Maxwell and Tyler O’ Conner. But last Saturday, despite what the crowd was chanting at the begin of the game against Youngstown, “Tyler – Tyler”, coach Mark Dantonio went with Cook, the red shirt sophomore, and that decision proved to be a good one.
Now Dantonio guarantees Cook the Number one quarterback spot and had this to say about his expectations, “Cook’s performance last week of 15 of 22 passes complete for 202 yards and 4 touchdowns – should give Cook the confidence of knowing that if he makes one mistake he won’t be yanked out of the game for someone else.”
But Cook-or-no-Cook, it’s going to take more than just a quarterback to win the game. State has yet to establish a solid tight end that can catch and block, and outside of wide receiver Macgarrett Kings jr., their receiving game has not been very productive. But maybe with one full game and a full week of practice under everyone’s belt with Cook as starting quarterback, State might see some solid continuity on the field between quarterback and receivers.
As for State’s running game, Nick Hill has shown some great potential, breaking tackles and gaining yardage, add that in with Jeremy Langford and Riley Bullough, some well executed plays and some good tackle breaking, which they have been lacking this year, State could put together a running clinic on Notre Dame.
With scoring potential that the offense could produce and a #1 defense that will also include safety Isaish Lewis, who has been out for injury, this could spell danger for Notre Dame.
State will also be using another passionate defensive weapon, senior defensive lineman Max Bullough, who has just a little more at stake than just bragging rights and moving on to a 4-0 record.
He’s not the first of the Bullough’s to play for Michigan State, in fact, his family is Michigan State royalty, having his grandfather, father and two unclers playing for the team at one point. And on the other side of his family, his mother attended Notre Dame and his grandfather and uncle both played for football for Notre Dame as well.
“I’m excited just like anyone else on the team,” Bullough said. “I just want to win. It’s a red-letter game, but I want to win. I’m 1-2 against them and definitely don’t want to end 1-3.”
Bullough insist that the family reunion will not effect how he plays, he’s there to win for Michigan State.
It should be a hard-fought game, possibly a game that might come down to a chess match between to evenly match coaches, Mark Dantonio and Brian Kelly. Either way both teams could use the win and the confidence, and I’m sure both teams want the bragging rights and to hold on to the megaphone trophy for the next three years.