Know Thy Enemy is a Q&A where the perspective changes from the eyes of The State News to the eyes of the student newspaper of Michigan State's opponent. This week, The State News' football beat writer Nick Lundberg spoke with sports editor Lauryn Luderman of The Lantern ahead of Saturday's Ohio State-Michigan State game.
After getting its third victory of the season on Senior Day last weekend against Nebraska, Michigan State football will look to keep the winning momentum going on a trip to Columbus against the No. 3 Buckeyes in a primetime matchup at Ohio Stadium Saturday night. Kick-off is slated for 7:33 p.m. on NBC.
Q: We know Marvin Harrison is elite, but who else stands out on OSU's offense?
A: "I would definitely say Emeka Egbuka, that's probably the number two wide receiver in the country," Luderman said. "They work better as a pair. So, having him back last week was a huge advantage. Otherwise, I'd say Julian Fleming. He's a weapon here and there. I think he's reliable, but he does get a lot of targets. Marvin really steals the show, like you said, and then TreyVeon Henderson, the running back. He's run for over 200 yards in both of those, and I think he's really gotten the run game going. Then also Cornell Tate, the freshman. So I think the depth from the top to the bottom is dangerous."
Q: It seems that OSU seems to lull at times against lesser opponents; why is that?
A: "I don't want to say that Ohio State is one of those teams that plays similarly to their opponent, so whether that be up or down, I do think that when there's as much pressure on Ohio State, the team that it is and them having the reputation that they do, they treat every one seriously, but there's those that they know that they're going to win," Luderman said. "And I think especially with McCord being young and inexperienced, he struggles with pressure, and it doesn't matter what type of opponent he's playing. I think the defense has really shown up against every team, but truthfully, I think they've just struggled because the offense just doesn't have a complete room, I guess in each category. So, like years previous, there's been strength at quarterback, at receiver and at running back. Every single position has been lethal. And this year, I don't feel like all of those positions kind of are working together as, more so in years past, and so maybe it's just that the team is less as one and less coordinated, as you know, when they would put up 50 points on any of their opponents."
Q: Is there any chance that MSU will capitalize on those lulls?
A: "I think the mission is to get to the quarterback," Luderman said. "I think that's the key because if you get McCord uncomfortable, who knows what's going to happen. We saw that in Wisconsin when he threw two interceptions and had the fumble, and then again last week, he threw an interception just because the defense was able to bring blitzes and players that the offensive line and McCord weren't necessarily expecting. So when you catch him off guard, I think that's when he struggles and obviously the entire offense, you know, stems around him and what plays he can make. So I think the key for Michigan State will just be really in the trenches. It's just such a common thing to say, but it's really true because once McCord gets uncomfortable, it's definitely going to favor the opposing team."
Q: Do you think a top 3 ranking gives OSU a bigger target on its back?
A: "I would have to say no, just because Ohio State is always highly ranked, and they know what kind of pressure is on them," Luderman said. "Regardless of what that number may be, I think, just Ohio State being Ohio State, whether they're number 10, or number three, I think they might even feel more pressure if they were a higher ranking because everyone expects them to be great and expects them to put on a Buckeye performance like we're so used to seeing. The pressure is always going to be there regardless of if they're playing the number one team or the 112th best team."
Q: Score prediction?
A: "I'm gonna say 35-10."
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