Why Michigan State's Run Defense Ranking Is Deceiving

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Kenny Wilder
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Sun Dec 27, 2015 8:27 pm

A defense that has limited two of the top running backs in the country to a combined 3.5 yards per carry has otherwise been inconsistent stopping the run heading into a matchup against Alabama and star running back Derrick Henry.

Michigan State is ranked seventh nationally in run defense, holding opponents to an average of 113 yards per game.

That ranking is deceiving.

Here is a rundown of how opposing running backs have fared against the Spartans:

Western Michigan (Sept. 4) -- Western Michigan running backs ran for a combined 44 yards on 11 carries, averaging four yards per carry during a 37-24 Michigan State win. The Spartans, though, did limit Western Michigan's top running back, Jarvion Franklin, to 23 yards on eight carries.

Oregon (Sept. 12) -- Michigan State held Oregon star running back Royce Freeman to 92 yards on 24 carries (3.8 yards per carry) during a 31-28 win over the Ducks.

Air Force (Sept. 19) -- Air Force ran for 279 yards and two touchdowns on 51 carries, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Michigan State won, 35-21.

Central Michigan (Sept. 26) -- Central Michigan top running back Devon Spalding averaged 5.1 yards per carry, running for 77 yards on 15 carries. Michigan State won, 30-10.

Purdue (Oct. 3) -- Purdue running back Markell Jones, who rushed for an average of just 65 yards in Purdue's other 11 games, ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. He averaged 7.1 yards per carry. Michigan State won, 24-21.

Rutgers (Oct. 10) -- Rutgers' top three running backs ran for a combined 160 yards while averaging 7.3 yards per carry. One of the running backs, Paul James, had a 72-yard run. Michigan State won, 31-24.

Michigan (Oct. 17) -- Michigan State held Michigan's top running back, De'Veon Smith, to 46 yards and an average of 2.4 yards per carry during a 27-23 win.

Indiana (Oct. 24) -- Indiana running back Jordan Howard ran for 78 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Michigan State won, 52-26.

Nebraska (Nov. 7) -- Nebraska running back Imani Cross ran for 98 yards and a touchdown while averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Nebraska won, 39-38.

Maryland (Nov. 14) -- Michigan State held Maryland's top two running backs to a combined 3.8 yards per carry in a 24-7 win. However, Terrapins starting running back Wes Brown averaged a solid 4.3 yards per carry, running for 52 yards on 12 carries.

Ohio State (Nov. 21) -- Michigan State held Ohio State star running back Ezekiel Elliott to 33 yards on 12 carries during a 17-14 win.

Penn State (Nov. 28) -- Penn State lost, 55-16, but Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley ran for 103 yards on 17 carries, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

Iowa (Dec. 5) -- Michigan State limited Iowa's top three running backs to a combined 55 yards on 17 carries during a 16-13 win over the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten championship game.
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PensacolaKid
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Mon Dec 28, 2015 9:08 am

I see no reason why a Saban team would not consider this game to be the National Championship game but Bama had better think in every way possible that they are playing Michigan State for the National Championship. I have seen a very porous State team and I have seen a National Championship caliber team in Michigan State. Depends on which one shows up and how Conner Cook plays. Derrick Henry will be the same steady RB and I believe Saban will once again have the Tide ready. I believe it should be a barn burner and a darn fine game. Dantonio is one good solid coach as well. Somewhat in the mold of Saban.
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Mon Dec 28, 2015 4:26 pm

MY PREDICTION
ALABAMA 35
MICHIGAN STATE 10


Coming Soon To Tuscaloosa...
Roll Tide Roll!!!


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Kenny Wilder
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PensacolaKid
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Tue Dec 29, 2015 12:11 pm

Several things are gonna have to happen for Michigan State to have a chance. Cook is gonna have to play a lights out game. Michigan State's offensive line is gonna have to play lights out and Coker for Alabama is going to have to play a mediocre game. I do believe Alabama will prevail but it is gonna be closer than expected. Ohio State has as good a team as Bama in my opinion and is as well coached...almost. Michigan State beat them. If Coker plays well, I do believe the score will reflect....

Bama - 30
Michigan State - 27
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Kenny Wilder
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Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:46 pm

You got to be dreaming. I tried to be conservative in my prediction, but if Michigan State can't stop Derreck Henry the game will become very ugly with a blow-out win for Bama. I think Henry will run for over 200 yards. Coker is a much better quarterback than what a lot of folks think. Look for Coker to make some really big plays for the Tide.
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