Michigan State - Oregon Preview


Over the past several years now, the Oregon Ducks have been one of the most unstoppable forces in college football. But, they haven’t been completely unstoppable. Some very clear Kryptonite has been shown to work against the Quack Attack. And, the Michigan State Wolverines represent one of the most talented examples of that specific antidote to Oregon’s onslaught.

The key elements:
*Strong defense
*Ball control offense
*Conservative approach that avoids turnovers
*Wearing down the Ducks instead of wearing out yourselves chasing them

You could also add “hope for some injury luck” into the mix, because Oregon turned mortal last year when quarterback Marcus Mariota tried to play hurt. He’s not hurt right now, so Michigan State won’t enjoy that break.

Michigan State is basically a Big 10 version of Stanford (whom they defeated in last year’s Rose Bowl). Stanford has had good success against Oregon with the approach we just outlined. In fact, we previewed those games here in the NOTEBOOK with the same general theme. There’s no secret about what works against Oregon. It’s just extremely difficult to pull off.

Keep the ball out of their hands
Don’t let them get any rhythm when it is in their hands
Don’t give away any cheap points
Try to force some cheap points for yourself
Keep your defense fresh, and make their defense tired.

Can the 2014 version of the Spartans make that happen as almost a two-TD road underdog?

2013 Record: 13-1 (beat Stanford 24-20 in Rose Bowl)
2013 Rankings: 80 on offense, 7 on defense
Returning Starters: 5 on offense, 5 on defense
Quarterback: Connor Cook (Junior, game manager)
Last Week: beat Jacksonville State 45-7, winning total yardage 565-244.

Last year’s team may have had a better shot, only because this year’s defense lost more than half its starters. But, still, this is basically Stanford in dark green. We talked about the Cardinal in our most recent report. Heck, MSU’s tune-up over Jacksonville State looked a lot like Stanford’s tune-up over Cal Davis. The potential for an upset is there.

2013 Record: 11-2 (beat Texas 30-7 in Alamo Bowl)
2013 Rankings: 2 on offense, 37 on defense
Returning Starters: 8 on offense, 5 on defense
Quarterback: Marcus Mariota (Junior, Heisman Trophy candidate)
Last Week: beat South Dakota 62-13, winning yardage 673-370

Oregon, however, returns eight starters and a healthy Mariota…which makes them a truly lethal force when they have the ball. Can MSU’s newcomers hold their own at this very tough site?

Las Vegas Line: Oregon by 12.5, total of 56

The betting markets say NO! But, of course, the betting markets said that about Stanford too when they played Oregon. What’s very clear is that extreme volatility is in place. Michigan State has a chance to be Kryptonite. But, if they fall behind, they’ll be trying to catch up on the road at a unique site with a game manager at quarterback who isn’t ideally suited to score quickly. If Sparty is forced out of its comfort zone when trying to play catch up, then turnovers and cheap Oregon points will follow.

This game could EASILY miss the spread by two touchdowns in either direction!

JIM HURLEY will only play this game if it qualifies as one of the best on the board (as either a major release or part of a TV Parlay). You can purchase the final word for Saturday in the hours right before first kickoff (noon ET, 9 a.m. in Las Vegas). Game day BEST BETS are always availalbe right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about seasonal packages, or combination packages for football and baseball, call us in the office this weekend at 1-800-323-4453.

It’s back to the NFL tomorrow in the NOTEBOOK. We’ll study the Sunday Nighter that everyone’s looking forward to featuring Andrew Luck and the Colts against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Here’s the upcoming schedule…

Sunday: NFL Sunday Night TV Preview…Indianapolis at Denver
Monday: NFL Monday Night TV Preview…San Diego at Arizona
Tuesday: College Football Notes or an MLB Preview
Wednesday: NFL Notes or Royals/Tigers MLB ESPN Preview
Thursday: NFL Thursday Night TV Preview…Pittsburgh at Baltimore

We still haven’t decided which college games we’ll preview next weekend in the NOTEBOOK. On the short list are Georgia/South Carolina, Tennessee/Oklahoma, and UCLA/Texas.

Be with us EVERY DAY here at the website for handicapping tips, and important preview information in the marquee matchups you’ll be watching on TV. Then, link up with JIM HURLEY…the man who’s been Kryptonite to the Las Vegas superbooks for more than 25 years!


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