This week's Q&A has a green tint to it as Pete Rossman of SB Nation's The Only Colors stops by. Things have been pretty good in East Lansing for awhile now. They have the Rose Bowl trophy in their possession and Sparty has twice won the Big Ten in the last five years.
Here is what Pete had to say about Saturday:
T-Mill: Purdue played Michigan State pretty close last year and is a better team this season. Any concern because of that?
Pete: Not particularly. MSU's woeful offensive output in last year's game can be attributed to Connor Cook averaging about 4.3 yards per passing attempt against the 102nd ranked passing efficiency defense in the BCS in Purdue last season. Even though his showing against Nebraska was a definite drop in form, he's been much improved over the past year, and I don't see him repeating that performance against a fairly average Boilermaker pass defense this year. Even though Purdue has improved, so has MSU's offense, and I'm not really concerned.
T-Mill: Is this a game where MSU will play the starters a little longer to impress the selection committee for the playoff?
Pete: Nope. Even after the Oregon loss, Michigan State pulled their starters fairly quickly in the blowouts against Eastern Michigan and Wyoming, giving the backups a lot of playing time. Given the chaos college football is prone to, if MSU does go up big in this game, Dantonio will give the starters rest.
T-Mill: The Michigan State defense is still awfully strong. Do they pitch a shutout again or did Austin Appleby and the offensive explosion last week give you some doubts?
I don't think they'll pitch up a shutout again, but not because of any personnel Purdue have. It's a dirty little secret this season that the back four, for whatever reason, isn't up to the standards of last year's No Fly Zone, and receivers can get open. Nebraska came back last week mostly due to consistently completing 8-10 yard passes with a big completion thrown in every now and then. From last week's performance (DISCLAIMER: It was against Illinois), Appleby looks like a competent quarterback, so I wouldn't be surprised if he hit his receivers for a couple of big games. However, he'll most likely have to deal with the MSU defense keying on the pass in obvious passing downs, since I don't expect Purdue to pick up many yards on the ground.
T-Mill: What is a favorable offensive matchup for Michigan State given Purdue's third down struggles?
Tony Lippett against the defense. The Big Ten's leader in receiving yards per game has risen quickly to be the Spartans' main deep threat, and Cook will look for him to pick up 3rd and 8's, and so on. If it's third and short the ball will most likely go to running back Jeremy Langford. Michigan State had a hard time picking up third and short against a stout Cornhusker defensive line last week. Hopefully Saturday the Spartans will pick up a few more of those situations.
T-Mill: Do you think there will be any letdown after last week's big game?
Pete: If Michigan State had comfortably won the game 28-3 or 28-10 last week, I would be saying that there would be a definite possibility. However, the Spartans needed a Trae Waynes interception deep in their own territory to avoid what would've been the biggest SPARTY NO! moment in years. They'll be focused, especially against a Purdue team that's shown they weren't the doormat they were last season. With so many highly ranked teams losing last Saturday, there's a much clearer path for the Spartans to enter the playoff, so I think they'll come to West Lafayette ready to win.