"It's going to be tough because both of the teams have (their) backs against the wall trying to get…
KEYS TO WIN: MSU'S BIG SIX MUST PRODUCE
Domata Peko's fumble return for a TD tied last year's contest at 31-all.
COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF | MSU vs. UM
EAST LANSING - "If only."
Too many Michigan State vs. Michigan games have ended recently with the Spartans saying the words, "if only".
If only someone would have stepped up and made a play when the opportunity presented itself, Michigan State would not be riding a five-game losing streak coming into this week's contest againt Michigan.
If only, John Goss or Nick Mayer had made a field goal in regulation or in overtime in the Spartans 2005 34-31 OT loss.
If only someone could have covered Braylon Edwards in the fourth quarter with the Spartans up 27-10 in Michigan State's 45-37 triple overtime loss. Not only did John L. Smith decision to single cover Edwards result in two fourth quarter TDs to tie the game, the same coverage gave Michigan the winning score.
If only Jeff Smoker hadn't thrown a drive-killing fourth quarter interception from midfield with the Spartans on the move for a potential game tying score in the Spartans 27-20 loss in 2003.
Michigan State can't afford anymore "if only" and no more 'shoulda', 'coulda', 'wouldas'. The Spartans must execute at a high level for the entire game this Saturday starting at 3:30 EST.
No doubt they'll come out sky-high for this game at Spartan Stadium, but what will happen when Michigan inevitably makes a game of it and begins imposing their will on the Spartans.
"How long will we bow to Michigan?"
That's the question MSU head coach Mark Dantonio asked this week and it is a good one. He might as well asked, "how long will we say "if only?"
MSU has had several shots at beating the Wolverines in this classic matchup on to kick, throw and give them all away.
It starts with quarterback Brian Hoyer. Hoyer has missed open receivers all season long. He can't afford to do that on Saturday. He has to get the ball to Devin Thomas, Mark Dell and Kellen Davis consistently whenever they are open.
Javon Ringer needs to show up big. Mike Hart will come in as one of the nation's leading rushers and a true Heisman Trophy candidate. Ringer needs to outplay, outrush and outshine Hart.
Jehuu Calcrick is down to his last chance. Caulcrick has been marvelous in short down situations, but he'll need to stretch himself even more, catching the ball out of the backfield and turning it up to move the chains.
Devin Thomas needs to show why he's the conference best receiver and returner.
It's up to Jonal Saint-Dic to show why he's an NFL prospect. He and fellow rush end Ervin Baldwin must pressure Ryan Mallett or Chad Henne (who's ever behind center). They can't allow them to have time to pick apart MSU's secondary.
Then, the X factor, Travis Key, a fifth-year senior captain, a former walk-on, who's defied all the odds --wouldn't it be poetic justice if Key made the play that sealed the deal?
No more "if only's" for the Spartans.
This is it.