Thank you to Joe Tuohey (@Jobin2E) of The Only Colors for taking the time to answer some questions for us about Michigan State, who the Terps will face in East Lansing on Saturday.
1. So, uh, how are things going after that Nebraska loss?
After a period of mourning, I think things are going much better. MSU fans have accepted that this team was unlikely to get past Ohio State anyways (given the injury situation in the secondary) and that the opportunity to get into the playoff still exists (though the margin for error is quite slim). Also, long-time MSU fans are still pretty thrilled with the general footing of the program.
Oh, and basketball season starts this week and has been helpfully distracting.
2. If you were coming up with a game plan to beat MSU, what would you try to do on offense? On defense?
If I was game-planning for MSU's defense, I'd try my best to get my playmakers at wide receiver in one-on-one scenarios against the MSU secondary. MSU has been starting two true freshmen at safety in Grayson Miller and Khari Willis, and though those two have been better than I'd ever expected, this MSU secondary is quite suspect. MSU's front seven isn't quite as stout as it has been in recent years, either, but there's always more emphasis on stopping the run in East Lansing.
Defensively, I'd double cover Aaron Burbridge at all times. The MSU running game has been spotty, and the combination of Burbridge and Connor Cook has been especially impressive. Burbridge can beat any corner in the nation in one-on-one coverage, and Cook does a great job of delivering a catchable ball to him.
3. What has been the biggest surprise this season for the Spartans?
On the positive side, it would be Burbridge's emergence. He's been a contributor for several season but nobody saw this breakout coming.
On the negative side, the special teams have been disastrous despite most of the contributors returning. Long snapping, place-kicking, punting, kick and punt coverage, and kick and punt returns have all been bad-to-horrible. This is especially confusing given that MSU returned the starting Kicker, long-snapper, and return men. This will be a concern given the existence of Will Likely in the game on Saturday.
4. Mark Dantonio has done an amazing job at MSU. Are fans worried at all about him possibly leaving for a job like Southern Cal?
MSU fans are still scarred from the departure of Nick Saban to LSU more than 15 years ago. So, worried? Sure. But in general, Coach D has called MSU a "destination" job and that has assuaged the fan base as much as possible. It has helped that the BTN $Texas dollars have allowed MSU to compensate him nicely and allowed Dantonio to keep continuity among the coaching staff. Dantonio's coached in the midwest throughout his coaching career, anyways; I think Ohio State is just about the only job he'd consider leaving MSU to take.
5. Complete this sentence. ___________ will win because ________________.
First blank: Michigan State
Second blank: You won't like us when we're angry. More seriously, the offensive and defensive lines will be too much and Cook & Burbridge are an overpowering combination.
6. Bonus question - if any Maryland fans make the trip out to East Lansing, what food and beverage questions should folks check out?
Good question! The two best suggestions I can give to you in East Lansing proper are Crunchy's and HopCat. Crunchy's is an old-school college bar with great food and a terrific taplist (and not too much undergraduate stupidity). Also, you can get a mop bucket full of beer so long as you have three people together. Second suggestion is HopCat, which has turned into a little bit of a midwestern craft beer bar chain. But the one in East Lansing is the second one ever opened (and my personal favorite). There are 100 taps, and the food is great too.
If you're looking for something more family-friendly, the MSU Dairy Store has my favorite ice cream anywhere.