The San Francisco 49ers face the John Harbaugh-led Baltimore Ravens tomorrow, and it comes at kind of fitting timing. Today, the Jim Harbaugh-led Michigan Wolverines play their in-state rivals, the Michigan State Spartans, in the biggest matchup between these two teams in quite a while. Michigan is ranked No. 12 and Michigan State is ranked No. 7. Both teams still have to face Ohio State, but the winner of this game is in the driver's seat leading up to that matchup.
Given the Harbaugh nature of this game, I wanted to create a separate thread for it from our college thread. The game is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. PT on ESPN, with a live stream available through Watch ESPN. Jake put together a preview of the game with his score prediction, and Greg put together a detailed look at the draft prospects on both teams. You can use this thread to discuss the prospects, the game itself, and of course, Jim Harbaugh.
Michigan is streaking into relevance as they take on Michigan State at home today. Jim Harbaugh has done a 360 to the Michigan team since he has got there. The Wolverines are coming off of ANOTHER defensive shutout, when they knocked off a good Northwestern team 31-0, their third shutout. The opening kickoff return for a touchdown from Jehu Chesson set the tone for the entire game, and the Wildcats never really could recover from that.
The No. 12 ranked Michigan team is firing all cylinders right now, and I expect them to today. Running back DeVeon Smith is going to be seeing one of the toughest defenses yet, but he could still have a productive day considering he's one of the best at it right now. He is adept at waiting for the hole to develop, and keeping his legs moving after initial contact. Senior quarterback Jake Rudock has found a groove in the offense, despite getting off to a rocky start, and having talk surrounding him about not being starting QB material.
Although the offense is thriving for Michigan, their stout defense is the real story. Safety Jabrill Peppers is one of the most talented players in the country, and he's only a sophomore. Peppers brings that physical element to the table for the Wolverines defense. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis is having himself an All-American type of season, and is being considered the best CB in the country. He should be matched up on Michigan States' top WR in Aaron Burbridge, who posses as a dangerous vertical threat.
As for Michigan State, well, they are off to a 6-0 mark, but their struggles continue as they are barley squeezing past teams including; Oregon, Purdue, and Rutgers. The team fell to no. 7 in the AP poll last weekend, and could drop out of the top 15 if they lose today. Nonetheless, the Spartans still do have the reliable Connor Cook at quarterback (the winningest quarterback at MSU). Aaron Burbridge (as aforementioned) is Cook's favorite target this season, and has 560 yards receiving along with four touchdowns.
Michigan State's struggles concern me, especially when they are going on the road to Ann Abor. I just don't see the Spartans pulling this one out.
Michigan over MSU: 31-17
NFL Draft prospects
QB Connor Cook, No. 18 6'4 - 220 lbs., 4.89 40 - (1st)
FB Trevon Pendleton, No. 37, 5'11 - 250 lbs., 4.93 40 (UFA)
WR DeAnthony Arnett, No. 5, 5'11 - 182 lbs., 4.49 40 (UFA) Transfer from Tennessee.
WR Aaron Burbridge, No. 16, 6'1 - 208 lbs., 4.57 40 (5th-6th)
WR Macgarrett Kings Jr., No. 85, 5'10 - 186 lbs., 4.53 40 (UFA)
OT *Jack Conklin, No. 74, 6'6 - 318 lbs., 5.43 40 (1st)
OG Donavon Clark, No. 76, 6'3 - 317 lbs., 5.43 40 (7th-UFA)
C Jack Allen, No. 66, 6'1 - 298 lbs., 5.24 40 (5th)
DT Joel Heath, No. 92, 6'5 - 296 lbs., 5.13 40 (6th)
DT Lawrence Thomas, No. 8, 6'3 - 300 lbs., 5.12 40 (7th-UFA)
DE Shilique Calhoun, No. 89, 6'5 - 252 lbs., 4.78 40 (2nd)
OLB Darien Harris, No. 45, 6'0 - 220 lbs., 4.67 40 (7th)
OLB Ed Davis, No. 43, 6'2 - 233 lbs., 4.76 40 (UFA) Out for year.Suffered knee injury August 2015. Will seek a medical redshirt for sixth year.
SS RJ Willaimson, No. 26, 6'0 - 215 lbs., 4.63 40 (6th)
LS Taybor Pepper, No. 52, 6'5 - 230 lbs., 5.06 40 (UFA)
QB Connor Cook, No. 18, showcases great size, arm strength with a quick release, decent mobility (sneaky athleticism), and good footwork in the pocket. His accuracy from within the pocket is impressive, adept at reading the entire field and making all NFL level throws, showing off pinpoint accuracy in tight windows and some beautiful throws over-the-top reminiscent of snowflakes falling from the sky. Shows the tenacity and toughness in taking hits, but also possesses the escapability to extend plays and make throws on the run. Very intelligent prospect with great vision and experience operating in a pro-style system.
OT Jack Conklin, No. 74, the redshirt junior, is a tough powerful mauler at left tackle (has experience at right tackle too), excels in the run game, and is reliable in pass protection, but does have issues with speed off the edge and lacks athleticism. Conklin brings great size at 6'6" - 318 pounds and the length ideal for the position showcasing good lateral movement, solid base, sound technique, good strength, and heavy hands. Conklin is an ideal fit as a right tackle prospect or kicked inside to guard at the next level. A former walk-on, Conklin bestows a tremendous work ethic.
DE Shilique Calhoun, No. 89, is an edge prospect (possible 3-4 OLB in the 49ers scheme) that showcases a solid combination of size (6'5" - 252 lbs.) speed, flexibility, and length that bends quite well coming off the edge with good feet and speed. A physical and aggressive edge player with a quick burst off the line of scrimmage, Calhoun shows good change of direction, strength at the point of attack, solid instincts, and is a relentless player that has an eye for the ball with impressive closing speed and a high motor. He is good at setting the edge, stacks and sheds with decent technique, and overall is solid against the run, showcases nice speed to power off the edge and can set the edge in the run game, but will need to be more consistent and gain more strength at the next level.
QB Jake Rudock, No. 15, 6'3 - 210 lbs, 4.86 40 (UFA) Transfer from Iowa.
WR Amara Darboh, No. 82, 6'2 - 216 lbs., 4.56 40 (7th-UFA)
WR Jehu Chesson, No. 86, 6'3 - 207 lbs., 4.54 40 (UFA) ST value in the return game.
C Graham Glasgow, No. 61, 6'6 - 303 lbs, 5.27 40 (6th) Suspended March 2015 for violating alcohol-related probation.
DE Mario Ojemudia, No. 53, 6'3 - 252 lbs, 4.78 40 (7th-UFA) Out for the year with Achilles tendon injury.
DT Ryan Glasgow, No. 96, 6'3 - 297 lbs, - Michigan (6th)
OLB James Ross III, No. 15, 6'1 - 232 lbs, 4.67 40 (5th)
ILB Desmond Morgan, No. 3, 6'1 - 236 lbs, 4.76 40 (6th)
ILB Joe Bolden, No. 35, 6'3 - 232 lbs, 4.82 40 (7th)
CB Wayne Lyons, No. 2, 6'1 - 196 lbs, 4.56 40 (6th) Grad transfer from Stanford.
FS Jarrod Wilson, No. 22, 6'2 - 210 lbs, 4.62 40 (UFA)
OLB James Ross III, No. 15, is a hard-nosed very strong athletically explosive big hitter, with solid downhill speed and good instincts and awareness. He may lack the ideal height for the position (6'1"), but he plays with an aggressive physicality utilizing his stout strength to stack and shed opponents and his explosion and burst, along with an intense high-motor from his hockey background, displaying nice closing speed finishing as a solid tackler. Ross is a potential candidate to move to inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Unfortunately, during the 3rd quarter of last week's match-up against Northwestern, Ross was ejected for targeting a defenseless wide receiver. Subsequently, Ross will be suspended the first half of the game against Michigan State.
ILB Desmond Morgan, No. 3, also a bit undersized for the position (6'1"), displays sound instincts and awareness and always has a knack for being around the action. A very smart and well-rounded football player, Morgan showcases great speed, athleticism, and is a sound tackler. The former two-way high school quarterback and middle inside linebacker also bestows strong leadership skills and a tremendous blue-collar mentality work ethic. Morgan also brings value on special teams.
ILB Joe Bolden, No. 35, displays a great combination of size (6'3"), strength, speed, quickness, athleticism, and instincts. Another strong and reliable tackler (especially one-on-one in space) with great awareness, Bolden bestows tremendous leadership and passion for the game that resonates with his teammates, a player fellow players look up to. Bolden is very strong at the point of attack and plays with great balance, agility, and flexibility. Another prospect that will also bring value on special teams at the next level.