Both the Miami Hurricanes and Michigan State Spartans will be looking for a marquee win when they meet up at Hard Rock Stadium Saturday at noon.
With the Hurricanes beginning their season with disappointment and the Spartans handling their business, there is a lot on the line in the week three matchup.
These teams will be playing for the first time since 1989, so there is not much familiarity between the programs. But this game is extremely important to both teams and how their 2021 season goes.
Up until this point in the young season, Miami has been defined by their loss to Alabama. To move past that, they will need to beat Michigan State at home. Especially since they struggled to take care of Appalachian State in week two.
Quarterback D’Eriq King and the offense have struggled to get the ball in the end zone through two games. They have averaged just 19 points and 328.5 yards, each of which are close to the bottom in the country.
The defense hasn’t been much better. The problem with these numbers though is that they played the Crimson Tide, who quite possibly the best team in the country. They won’t face a team even close to as talented unless they make it to the ACC Championship game, and Clemson being as talented as Bama is a big question.
After a close win against App State, the Hurricanes need to build some confidence. But they have not played well against teams from the Big Ten lately. Since 2009, Miami is 2-5 against the Big Ten, including three losses to Wisconsin in bowl games.
The Canes also enter the game with some fresh injuries. Running back Don Chaney Jr. was ruled out for the remainder of the season with an ACL injury. Starting linebacker Keontra Smith will be out for the next few weeks as well. Combine this will previously existing injuries and they are thin at each position.
With Chaney out, starter Cam’Ron Harris will be asked to do even more. It will also lead to true freshman Cody Brown and Thad Franklin Jr. having more opportunities.
The good news is a team from up north will have to play at noon in Miami. The heat and humidity is definitely an advantage the fast Hurricanes team can use to their advantage.
Michigan State Spartans
Through two weeks, the Spartans enter the game with two wins with relatively little competition. They controlled their season opener against Northwester from start to finish while they blew out Youngstown State the following week.
They have performed well on both sides of the ball, scoring 40 points per game while only allowing 17.5. Quarterback Payton Thorne has done a great job of leading the Michigan State offense, completing 65 percent of his passes for 465 yards and five touchdowns.
Thorne’s favorite target has been Jayden Reed, who he has connected with nine times for 245 yards and two touchdowns.
The rushing attack has also been extremely effective with Kenneth Walker III and Jordon Simmons. Walker III began the season with 264 yards and four touchdowns against Northwestern. It was Simmons who led the team in rushing the following week with 121 yards on 16 carries.
The Spartan offense’s balance may be the key to winning the game. The ability to run the ball, but also keeping the defense honest with some play action could lead to big plays. The only thing they can’t do is turn the ball over, something Miami defenses have done better than anyone during the “turnover chain era.”
Michigan State needs to effectively run the ball early and just play good defense, something they have been doing for years. Against the number 24 ranked team, they should be extremely confident in their ability to both and give themselves a great chance to win.
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