Michigan Football: Key Matchups to Watch for Against Michigan State

Mike Shiekman@TheRealShiekFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 13:  Fitzgerald Toussaint #28 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates a third quarter touchdown with Denard Robinson #16 and the rest of his offensive teammates while playing the Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan Stadium on October 13, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Michigan won the game 45-0. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Michigan State Spartans have had their way with the Michigan Wolverines in recent history. Michigan holds the better record and players desperate for a win. Only if they take advantage of individual matchups will they be able to pull off the feat.

A win over the Spartans would not be just an individual accomplishment, as ESPN College Football notes:

No FBS team has more all-time wins than Michigan, & the Wolverines go for their 900th win this Sat. vs MichiganState. #MSUvsMICH

— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) October 19, 2012

Rivalry games indicate who are the prime performers and the chokers. Lets see which matchups will reveal the defining performances in this year's Michigan-Michigan State battle.


Michigan Front Seven vs. Le'Veon Bell

Bell has found ways to torture opposing defenses this season. Michigan's defense could be next; they have been prone to breakdowns this year as much as anyone.

The Wolverines have looked impressive in recent weeks, but the Spartan talent level is much higher than a Purdue or Indiana. 

Michigan State will try to establish the run early and often. Whether the Wolverines get physical or not may dictate this game's outcome.



Denard Robinson vs. William Gholston and Spartans Defensive Line

Robinson has shown that when he has to stay in the pocket and throw, he's flawed. That's why Gholston and Co. would be better served keeping contain and making Robinson  stay in the pocket. The Spartans’ scheme will have to be well thought out to get the Wolverines to beat themselves.

Robinson will need some kind of help to overcome the Spartans defense that ranks as the 14th  best defense in the nation. We all know what the Michigan quarterback can do when he escapes the rush.


Jake Ryan vs. Andrew Maxwell

Ryan has been a brute force as of late, becoming the player to watch on the Wolverine defense. He looks to continue a great month of play, after leading in tackles and forcing a fumble in the Wolverines’ shutout of Indiana.

Maxwell will has to keep his eyes cued on Ryan when he sets at the line. The Spartan QB has had trouble with aggressive defenses (see at Notre Dame).