Michigan State Football: 3 keys to upset over Michigan in Week 9

Xavier Henderson, Michigan State football (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Xavier Henderson, Michigan State football (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
Michigan State football
Rocky Lombardi, Michigan State football (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

2. Take care of the football

Errant passes and butterfingers extinguished the enthusiasm surrounding the launching of the Mel Tucker era and the seventh turnover last weekend was the final nail in the coffin for a Spartan team expecting to start the year off on a positive note.

Rutgers is a team that Michigan State should have beaten and their inability to do so was discouraging.

Five fumbles and two interceptions are unacceptable and a team like Michigan will make you pay if the Wolverines can create even a fraction of MSU’s amount of turnovers from a week ago. They more than doubled Minnesota’s point total on only a couple of giveaways by the Golden Gophers. MSU is already facing long odds heading into this contest, they can’t afford to make mistakes that may leave them playing catch up for four quarters.

The good news is that the fumbling issues can be corrected to a certain extent (better awareness in traffic and placing a second hand on the football as ball-carriers are bracing for a hit from a defender).

Rocky Lombardi and his receivers had some instances where their communication was off, too. There cannot be any botched routes against a tough Michigan defense. The Spartans also have to be prepared to deal with the heavy pressure that Michigan will apply (it sacked Tanner Morgan a handful of times).

When Mel Tucker’s tenure at Michigan State is all said and done, his legacy will be determined partially by how his teams performed against their bitter rivals. His predecessor had an incredible stretch from 2008 until 2017 against the Wolverines, winning 8-of-10.

Tucker’s staff and players need to execute flawlessly against a powerful Michigan squad for them to be in contention late in the fourth quarter and that includes making ball security a priority.