Steve Morton’s CDS Game of the Week

NCAA Previews NFL Draft Prospect Reports

The Game of the Week

Michigan State at Michigan
Why this game? Michigan and Michigan State will feature two of my top 12 teams coached by two of the best coaches in college football: Mark Dantonio and Jim Harbaugh. This is a rivalry that extends back to the 1890’s and has been played continuously for 105 years. Rivalries, good coaches and good players are the stuff of college football dreams. If you watch, come expecting a physical slobber knocker as Jim Ross would say. Michigan State has owned the recent series winning 6 of the last 7.
Where can I see it? Saturday, October 17th at 3:30 ET on ESPN and Watch ESPN.

When Sparty has the ball –
Sparty features balance, out of pro like sets. The run game features a bevy of talented running backs led by freshman LJ Scott. Sparty will try to establish the run to set up the passing game. Spartans QB Connor Cook is considered by some to be a 1st round NFL talent (not by NostaMorton see below). Aaron Burbridge is an explosive WR averaging 16.5 yards per catch. Michigan State returns Jake Conklin after missing the last two games but Jack Allen, the Spartans best lineman is doubtful. Michigan State will need the line to be at its best because it will face one of the deepest, most effective defensive fronts in the nation. The Wolverines have eight lineman with a tackle for a loss and the nation’s best secondary led by Jabril Peppers and Jourdan Lewis allow them to be aggressive and play downhill. The Wolverines will match their secondary on Sparty’s WRs man to man and dare them to beat them over the top. Burbridge must continue his penchant for big plays. He will likely be matched against Lewis, one of the best man corners in college football. The Wolverines special teams have been dominating the field position battle with Blake O’Neill having an All American season punting the ball. Field position, dominant front seven play vs the pass and run and dominant secondary play has led the Wolverine defense to be as stingy as Ebeneezer Scrooge handing out Christmas bonuses yielding only 14 points in the last 5 games including three consecutive shutouts. Northwestern who dominated Stanford was among the teams shut out.

When Weapon X has the ball –
The Wolverines also strive to create balance by using the run to set up the pass. Michigan does not have a dominant offensive line in the run game like Harbaugh had at Stanford or San Francisco but they make up for it by a total team effort in the run game. The WR’s, TE’s and RB’s all block well and execute their assignments creating creases for Michigan’s RB’s led by DeVeon Smith to run through. Harbaugh has set an expectation that his skill players block to the whistle as well as his line and Michigan’s skill players met this expectation. The RBs run extremely hard and physical behind this team blocking effort. The Wolverines are also better in the passing game than many will expect. They play off the run and TE Jake Butt is a consistent matchup nightmare for any defense. Amara Darboh is a tough possession WR who fights for the ball.  QB Jake Rudock is not asked to be a star. In the Wolverines only loss to Utah, he was a turnover machine and couldn’t complete open passes. A similar performance vs Sparty will led to a Michigan defeat. Rudock has been steady if unspectacular since the Utah defeat in week one. The defense that Sparty will feature is not the same dominant unit seen in recent years due to all of loss of talent, injury to key players and the loss of defensive guru Pat Narduzzi to Pitt. Sparty does feature a couple of definite Sunday players in its defensive line in Shalique Calhoun, a 6’5 250 pound pass rusher with an explosive first step who is vulnerable but willing in the run game and Malik McDowell, an explosive 3T who can make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Sparty will need to stop the run (something Michigan State has done well in 2015) and not yield big plays to force Rudock to beat them.

2016 Draft Offensive Player to Watch (Michigan) –Jake Butt TE Michigan – Butt is the prototype TE (6’6 250, speed and flexibility to get open in the seam) teams are looking for in the NFL with the wide open schemes. He is also a good blocker (like all the Michigan skill players). He has exploded as a junior after a serious ACL and meniscus tear at the end of his freshman season clearly effected his sophomore season as well. Teams will want to check out the knee but in NostraMorton’s opinion, Butt will be the top TE in the 2016 draft and one of the top WRs.

2016 Draft Offensive Player to Watch (Michigan State) –Connor Cook QB Michigan State – Some have pegged Cook as a 1st round QB. NostraMorton wouldn’t draft him there. Cook is a Clint Eastwood movie QB. He features the Good: prototypical size: 6’4, 220, above average arm strength and barring injury over 1000 career passes. He features the Bad: his accuracy and ball placement are spotty to be kind. The recent history of QBs with career completion percentages of less than 60% is not good and Cook doesn’t have a season in his career of over 60%. The large sample size already indicates this is probably not a fluke. He features the Ugly: Cook has shown a tendency to get rattled by bodies around him as a collegian. In 2015, Michigan State has been adept at not allowing many bodies around him. This is nearly impossible on Sunday. Michigan is an aggressive pass rush to the max defense and will be a good test for Cook in this regard.

2016 Draft Defensive Player to Watch (Michigan State)– Shilique Calhoun DE Michigan State – Calhoun features both height to disrupt pass lanes at 6’5 with long arms and an explosive first step to get to the passer. He can be a liability in the run game due both to a tendency to stand straight up and not being a specifically strong player even when he plays with good technique. He is however willing and doesn’t avoid contact so if he can gain strength without losing his quickness and be coached up on technique he could be a complete edge OLB even if he isn’t today.
2016 Draft Defensive Player to Watch (Michigan) – Jourdan Lewis CB Michigan – Lewis has shown himself in 2015 to be a lock-down corner. He matches man to man all over the field with the other team’s best WR and has been dominant. His ability to lock down the other team has allowed Michigan to be extremely aggressive in its front seven play and allows Jabril Peppers to play downhill from his safety position. I hesitate to call any CB a 1st round player until the combine (CBs who are successful in the NFL are almost always good to great athletes) but Lewis looks the part so far.
Let the Fans Speak – Enough of my opinions, here are some fan’s opinions.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”″>@smorton101368</a> <a href=”″>@BHugh_215</a> <a href=”″>@Barnold1993</a> as they already mentioned, defense and Jim. They'll force more turnovers</p>&mdash; TitansFanatic (@TitansFanatic9) <a href=”″>October 17, 2015</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”″>@smorton101368</a> <a href=”″>@BHugh_215</a> <a href=”″>@TitansFanatic9</a> Def is unbelievable. They don't turn the ball over. They're nasty in the trenches. I'll be there.</p>&mdash; Blake Arnold (@Barnold1993) <a href=”″>October 17, 2015</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Who wins?
Jim Harbaugh’s first game vs Michigan State as a starting QB led to him getting a broken arm in a 19-7 loss. NostraMorton believes his 1st game as Michigan head coach ends quite a bit better. Michigan runs its shutout streak to 4 in a 17-0 win.

NostraMorton’s Top 12 (Week 7)
1. Baylor
2. LSU
3. Clemson
4. Ohio State
5. TCU
6. Utah
7. Florida State
8. Texas A&M
9. Florida
10. Michigan State
11. Alabama
12. Michigan

NostraMorton moves Baylor into the spot the Bears have earned by being the nation’s most consistently dominant team. LSU with Fournette moves into the number two slot. Clemson has been consistent for almost all the season and Ohio State is unbeaten and the champs. The Buckeyes stay for one more week even though their play has been uneven and the QB play has been short of even that standard. However like the Nature Boy used to say “to be the man, you have to beat the man” and no one has beaten the Buckeyes as of yet.
NostraMorton Heisman Watch
1. Leonard Fournette RB LSU
2. Dalvin Cook RB Florida State
3. Christian McCaffery RB Stanford
4. Joe Schobert OLB Wisconsin
5. Tyler Matakevich ILB Temple

NostraMorton puts the odds of anyone but Fournette winning the trophy at 5% providing that LSU rolling ball of destruction remains healthy. Cook is having a monster season that would be Heisman in walk in most years. He is carrying a Florida State offense that increasingly looks to have no other weapons. McCaffery is on a streak of 4 games with greater than 250 all-purpose yards. His play has lifted an offense run by Kevin Hogan to nearly dominant. Schobert and Matakevich have no chance to even be mentioned by NostraMorton sees their dominant play week in and week out and wanted to call them out this week.

Related Articles

2024 On the Clock Mock Draft Simulator is Live!

We have launched 2024 On the Clock mock draft simulator! It's never too early to start mocking for…

Read More about 2024 On the Clock Mock Draft Simulator is Live!

On the Clock LIVE is Here! Draft LIVE based on based on Real-time Data!

Fanspeak will be updating data real-time (immediately after each pick), including players picked and any draft order changes…

Read More about On the Clock LIVE is Here! Draft LIVE based on based on Real-time Data!