Well I've got to say it was a lot of fun hanging around Wisconsin this week rubbing it in. My Badger friends were forced to put up with me Sunday through Tuesday, as we traveled from Madison to Kohler to play golf. The weather was delightful and the Whistling Straights Golf Club was impressive. Most golf magazines have it rated as a Top 10 experience, and I'm now one of the believers. The Scottish links experience is so genuine that there are even sheep grazing on the course. I'm looking forward to my next trip back.
I'm also looking forward to this weekend's trip back to East Lansing. Last year's trip was a bummer, and each time I return to MSU, I can't help but remember what it was like to travel up here as a sophomore quarterback to play the number 1 ranked Spartans in 1966. Michigan State was undefeated and had destroyed all of their opponents. I was running as much as I was throwing the ball and that had placed me second in the Big Ten in total offense. As we walked through the East Lansing airport someone handed me a paper and the headline said "all 22 eyes are on you Podolak." The writer told the story of how it was obvious that the defense was going to key in on me. Two of the players quoted were Bubba Smith and George Webster, two All-Americans who after the season would be number 1 draft choices. Needless to say, it was a tough night to sleep.
Well the game started with us driving for a touchdown and getting a lead against Michigan State for the first time by any team that year. This ended up being a major mistake as it just pi***ed them off. The student section started their chant "kill-Bubba-kill" and the game got quickly out of hand. The final score was 56-7, and we even had some guys who refused to go back into the game.
It's a lot more fun to be on this trip. Even though it's going to be cold and wet down on the field, it will be warm and dry in the broadcast booth. And the Hawks match up really well against the Spartans, which should make the 7-0 Hawks the favorites, although the odds-makers don't see it that way. Being the underdog, should help motivate the guys even more.
Michigan State has found success throwing the ball this year, which is a different attack than they used last year to barely beat the Hawks up here. Their passing game is effective partially because they have tall rangey receivers. The Hawk cornerbacks are bigger than most corners so that should help them defend one on one. The Hawks need to shutdown the run and make the Spartans one dimensional.
The Michigan State defense loves to blitz. They lead the league in sacks. They will blitz defensive backs along with linebackers. That means they are covering the tight end with a linebacker. The Hawks would love to catch them trying to cover Tony Moeaki with a linebacker. Look for this match up to produce one of the big plays of the game.