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He’s not on the call on Saturday, but he’s coming to East Lansing anyway.
ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit will be on campus as part of the College GameDay crew on Saturday, as the whole country readies itself for not only the biggest matchup of the weekend between No. 6 Michigan and No. 8 Michigan State, but perhaps the biggest in the rivalry. So when it came to discussing what it’s been and what will be in college football on the ESPN College Football Podcast, Herbstreit saved the best for last, initially breaking down the magnitude of the game.
“This is what it’s all about, the rivalry and the history there between Michigan and Michigan State is very unique,” Herbstreit said. “Everybody always talks because of the Mike Hart comment — big brother, little brother. Little brother there for awhile definitely had the upper hand. But this Michigan team, we’ve been saying all year, they seem to have an aura aboutthem, a confidence about them. And no better way to prove to America that it is what it is than to go into East Lansing, a rivalry game, on a huge stage, and play efficient football. That’s what they’ve been doing all year.
“We talked last Saturday: what does Ohio State need to do to make a stretch run? What does Michigan State need to do? What does Penn State need to do? What does Michigan need to do? When we got to Michigan, my comment was, they just need to play somebody. Don’t change anything! They’re playing — they don’t need to do anything! They need an opportunity. And the opportunity wasn’t last Saturday at home against Northwestern. The opportunity is this Saturday in East Lansing when they see that green and white uniform across on the other side of the line of scrimmage. This is where we truly find out if Michigan is as good as they appear to be.
“And then you have Michigan State, they’re like, ‘What about us?’ They’re the surprise of the entire country. And they are. That’s what makes this game — what do you love about college football? I love this weekend! I love a rivalry game. I love that both teams are up in the top 10. One is a complete surprise in Michigan State in all the transfer portals, and the other is a traditional power in Michigan, who is somewhat of a surprise. But this is the week we either go, ‘Michigan is legit!’ or we go, ‘Man, Michigan was like this a couple years ago and they finish. . .’ That’s what we learn.”
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For Herbstreit, the game appears to be more about Michigan than it is Michigan State. So, with that in mind, what do the Wolverines need to do to win and improve to 8-0 on Saturday?
In short, it all comes down to one person — the quarterback.
“And we also learn about Cade McNamara, because he’s gonna have to take care of the football the way he has all year, but he’s gonna have to make some plays,” Herbstreit said. “I think he’s capable of doing it, but he’s gonna have to make some plays — especially early downs. Michigan State’s gonna be like, ‘You know what? Make that kid McNamara, make him beat us. They’re not running the ball with Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins. They’re not running the ball. We’re loading up. Let’s see if this kid can beat us throwing.’ That’s what it’s gonna be. So, can he make the throws to win the game for Michigan. I think that will be the whole story of the game.”
Michigan and MSU will kick off at noon EDT. The game will be broadcast on Fox.