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Walk the Line 2014: NCAA Wk 2; NFL Wk 1 – 9/4/14

Double time for football lines!

Walk the Line kicks into full swing for the 2014 football season with Brooks Laimbeer and Dan Krier talking NCAA football spreads before Ryan Smith steps in to bring the best NFL expertise in the land. Believe it.

Dan and Brooks discuss the epic Michigan State (+12) matchup at Oregon this Saturday where the Spartans have more than a point spread to face heading into the College Football Playoff.

At the 27 minute mark, Ryan Smith stops by to get everyone ready for NFL 2014. Yes, it’s here.

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Spread-out Attack Powers Spartans in Exhibition Wins

The No. 20 Michigan State women’s field hockey team got off to an undefeated start this past weekend, winning both exhibition games against Central Michigan and Kent State.

Seven different Spartans accounted for the 10 total goals scored on Saturday.

In the opening game, the Spartans faced Central Michigan, a game Michigan State dominated from the first center pass. Goals from Allie Ahern, Abby Barker, Becky Stiles and Kristin Matula, all in the first 10 minutes of play, fueled the Spartans to a 4-1 lead at the half.

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2014 FIFA World Cup – Final Recap Show

Time to bid farewell to the wonderful 2014 FIFA World Cup. Germany reigns supreme after a 1-0 fantastic finish victory over Argentina, capturing the country’s 4th ever world championship.

Dan Krier & Brooks Laimbeer discuss the final game, make personal picks for the All-Tournament Team, and ponder the future of United States soccer regarding potential ways to cultivate more fan interest in the sport that so many people have adored over the last few weeks. Read More…

2014 FIFA World Cup – Quarterfinal Round Preview

Although the United States soccer team was unable to defeat Belgium in the Round of 16 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the eight remaining teams are about to kick off four of the most intriguing international football matches one could ever imagine.

Dan Krier and Brooks Laimbeer preview the Quarterfinal Round and give their picks on who will survive and who will go home. Does Brazil have what it takes to tackle the upstart Colombian squad? Will Belgium be able to shut down Argentina and Lionel Messi? Read More…

Walk the Line – #23 – 3/25/14

Sweet, then Elite!

Episode 23 of Walk the Line finds Dan Krier & Ryan Smith in the midst of NCAA Tournament heaven. Time to break down the Sweet 16 & Elite 8 matchups, with Thursday and Friday’s spreads on the board waiting to be picked apart, including MSU vs. UVa.

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BREAKING: Dawson Out 4-5 Weeks with Broken Hand

Michigan State announced Thursday that junior forward, Branden Dawson, will be out for four to five weeks with a broken hand.

Dawson will undergo surgery this evening on his right hand after breaking it by slamming it on a table during a film session.

“It’ll be fine,” Dawson said during a press conference Thursday. “I was out with an ACL injury (his freshman) year and I came back from it.” Read More…

Spartans Prevail over Fighting Illini

In their first real road test, the Michigan State Spartans defeated the University of Illinois, 78-62, Saturday night in Champaign, Ill.

MSU came out slow, but had a consistent attack led by Gary Harris, who scored 23 points and collected five rebounds while dishing out four assists. Harris was one of three Spartans in double figures.

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Spartans Remain Unscathed in Big Ten

Michigan State only needed 40 minutes to defeat the Northwestern University Wildcats Wednesday night by a tally of 54-40 and remain undefeated atop the Big Ten standings.

As they have for most of the year, the Spartans came out slow and only led Northwestern 26-22 heading into halftime. MSU shot 1-11 from three point range in the first half. They ended the game 2-16 from behind the arc.

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The Pact – #12 – 12/30/13

2013 has been a whirlwind of a year for Impact Sports.  As one of the many firsts this year, fall marked the inaugural semester of The Pact – the only sportstalk show on FM-radio in the mid-Michigan area.

Hosted by Anthony “Fino” Serafino, the show has booked high profile guests from Lupe Izzo, to former MSU and NFL running back Todd “TJ” Duckett.

This week on the Pact, panelist and producer Lou DiVizio gives a look back on some of the most memorable interviews from 2013.  

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Year in Review: The Biggest Sports Newsmakers of 2013

2013 has been a year of ups and downs for sports. There has been inspiring highs and devastating lows.

Below, Impact Sports looks at 10 of the biggest sports newsmakers of 2013. These newsmakers changed the human eye of sports this year and had an impact on the future of athletics.

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Walk the Line – 2014 Rose Bowl and NFL Wk. 17 picks – 12/28/13

With the 2014 Rose Bowl less than one week away, the Michigan State Spartans are in California gearing up to face the Stanford Cardinal, who now sit as 6.5-point favorites because of, let’s just say…circumstances.

As has been pointed out in the past, these Spartans make plays, not excuses, so it will be quite an interesting afternoon on Wednesday.

Say goodbye to 2013 with Walk the Line as Dan Krier & Ryan Smith bring you their thoughts on the Rose Bowl as well as NFL Week 17 (the final Sunday of the regular season). If you’d like to reach Dan or Ryan in the next few days, hit us up and we’ll meet you somewhere cool in LA.

Peace!!!… Read More…

Walk the Line – #11 – 11/14/13

Ours go to 11!

Dan Krier is joined on Walk the Line Episode 11 by the enthusiastic Anthony Serafino (host of “The Pact” every Monday on Impact Sports), who helps break down the upcoming Michigan State @ Nebraska football game this Saturday in Lincoln, NE (MSU = -6.5…whoa!).

Max King chimes in as well as the guys lament the temporary absence of Ryan Smith and his sports-picking wizardry. Read More…

Walk the Line – #10 – 11/7/13

Episode 10 of Walk the Line hails the Michigan State Spartans for routing the Michigan Wolverines 29-6 and sending our little sisters packing back to Ann Arbor as losers of 5 of 6 in the rivalry.

Will U of M ever admit defeat and give deserved credit to MSU? Who cares??! 8-1 says it all!

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Thelen Leads Spartans to Victory with First Career Goal

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Redshirt senior Ryan Thelen scored his first career goal in the 59th minute off a Spartan corner kick to defeat the Oregon State Beavers, 1-0 Friday evening.

Thelen had appeared in 45 career games and suffered significant time missed due to injury in his 2010 and 2011 seasons before he scored Friday’s game-winning goal.

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Why Michigan Will Enjoy a Lloyd Carr-Esque Dominance over Michigan State for the next Decade

Growing up a Michigan State fan, I was used to losing to the University of Michigan in football. It was almost so inevitable, I would catch myself muttering “wait until basketball season” under my breath before the first half was even over. The leader of this dominance was the Wolverines’ head coach Lloyd Carr. Carr was named interim, and then later head coach in 1995 after the resignation of Gary Moeller. He enjoyed early success, winning the National Championship in 1997 after beating Ryan Leaf’s Washington State team in the Rose Bowl on January 1st, 1998. This early triumph allowed him to reign supreme over the college football world, with the Wolverines continuing their dominance over their in-state rivals in subsequent years.

During Carr’s tenure as head coach, he went a combined 10-3 against the Spartans, contributing to the lopsided 30-8 record Michigan boasted against Michigan State from 1970 through 2007. However, a new life was handed to the Spartans when Carr retired and Michigan hired former West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s first year in Ann Arbor was the worst in Michigan’s storied football history, going 3-9 in a season that saw Michigan State beat them, thus marking the first of four consecutive wins by the men from East Lansing. But all good things must come to an end, and that time came when Michigan fired Rodriguez and hired former assistant coach and then head coach of San Diego State, Brady Hoke. Although Hoke lost his first matchup with Michigan State, the Wolverines reached the Sugar Bowl, where they took down Virginia Tech via a last-second field goal. Using that momentum, Hoke put an end to the Spartan’s win streak in the 2012 season, winning an ugly one by the score of 12-10. After that loss, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was the beginning of another long streak of Wolverine football dominance in the state of Michigan for the following reasons listed below.

Recruiting

The simplest reason to back up my claim of Michigan’s upcoming dominance is Hoke’s recruiting talent. During the Lloyd Carr era, Michigan State was forced to live on the scraps that Carr and Michigan didn’t want in the state of Michigan. Take the 2008 state of Michigan recruiting class for example, the last group of players Carr recruited. According to Rivals.com, Michigan snagged four out of the top ten recruits in the state, including the top two, while Michigan State was left bottom feeding yet again. However, after Rodriguez’s dismal first season at Michigan, the tide changed. In the 2009 class of Michigan high school recruits, the Spartans claimed an unprecedented seven out of the top ten players. It is no coincidence that once Michigan State started winning the state of Michigan recruiting battle, they started winning the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy.

But then, Brady Hoke happened. In his first recruiting class, he raked in six out of the top ten recruits from the state of Michigan and finished with the fifth-best overall class nationally. Hoke is back at it again with the 2014 recruiting class, coming in right now with the tenth rated group in the country, with ESPN analysis ranking the class #1 overall. Some of the notable standouts include four-star receiver Drake Harris, who Hoke stole from his in-state rivals from East Lansing after Harris decided he wanted to focus on football and drop his hoop dreams.

What worries me most as a Spartan fan is the swiftness with which Hoke and Michigan regained the power position in this recruiting battle. Michigan State was fortunate when Rich Rodriguez arrived in Ann Arbor.  That man seemingly set their program back years and allowed Dantonio and his staff to regain footing in the state of Michigan with blue chip recruits. But what took Dantonio four years to accomplish, Hoke has done in one, and done with more success. I realize that online ratings of high school players don’t automatically mean success on the college level or predict average ordinary careers. Take Michigan’s Will Campbell and Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell for example. Campbell was a five-star recruit out of Detroit Cass Tech, and one of the most sought after players in the nation. However, he never lived up to expectations in Ann Arbor and didn’t receive regular playing time until his senior season. Bell, on the other hand, went in the exact opposite direction. He was only rated two stars out of high school, but in his junior year in East Lansing, he became one of the best running backs in Division I football while shouldering a majority of the Spartan’s offensive load and leading the team to a bowl victory in December. At the end of the day, however, Hoke is pulling in some of the best high school talent in the state of Michigan and dressing them in Maize and Blue. That will give them, at the very least, the upper hand on Michigan State, who has fallen quite a distance behind in this regard.

NOTE: All recruiting information was taken from Rivals.com

Spartan’s Unwillingness to Adapt to Modern Offensive Schemes

Both Hoke and Dantonio adopted programs that ran modern albeit flawed spread offenses. Both implemented more traditional pro-style offenses, bringing a breath of fresh air for each school’s fan base. But there were two things Hoke possessed that Dantonio didn’t: a high-octane offensive coordinator, Al Borges, and a high-octane offensive weapon, Denard Robinson. Hoke brought Borges with him to Ann Arbor from San Diego State, where he was an established offensive coordinator who had previously coached high-scoring offenses at schools such as Auburn and UCLA.

Dantonio has no such sidekick. He lost Don Treadwell in 2011, the offensive coordinator he brought to Michigan State when Dantonio was first hired. In my opinion, this was an underrated departure that had many adverse ramifications. Many forget that Treadwell was interim head coach for the Spartans in 2010 when Dantonio suffered a heart attack shortly after the stunning last-second victory over Notre Dame. Treadwell led the team to two victories, including a convincing victory over then No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers. That attracted head coaching offers for the coordinator, leading him to the top dog position at Miami, Ohio.

Succeeding Treadwell was Dan Roushar, who took a more conservative approach to his offensive scheme. The Spartans became a run-run-pass offense, and Dantonio appeared to be completely fine with these tactics despite the lack of offensive results. For the 2013 season, Dantonio is now employing a coordinator by committee approach on the offensive end, naming Jim Bollman and Dave Warner as co-offensive coordinators. Whereas the Spartans will need to find a newfound offensive identity, Michigan’s has settled in nicely under Al Borges’ philosophy. Additionally, Michigan State could very well see a quarterback controversy for next fall, but Michigan has an established field general in Devin Gardner. These are some crucial advantages Michigan has over Michigan State, but the root of the problem seems to lie in the style of offense run. Although both technically run a pro-style scheme, Michigan and its coaches have shown a willingness to tweak the system to keep up with the changing trends of college football.  Michigan State, on the other hand, has appeared to be resistant to change, thus allowing their hated rivals to come across as more modern if not downright cutting edge. Michigan State’s addition of freshman dual-threat quarterback Damion Terry gives Spartan fans hope, but until Dantonio proves that he is willing to incorporate Terry into their offensive system, the upcoming season might appear shockingly similar to last year’s 7-6 campaign.

 

Marketing

College sports is a business, although many do not like to admit it. And business is running better for Michigan than Michigan State at the current time. Sure, both schools have innovative athletic directors in Michigan’s Dave Brandon and MSU’s Mark Hollis, but University of Michigan football is simply a larger brand name than Michigan State football. Michigan is historically the winningest college football program in Division I, and this enduring legacy has allowed it to build up revenue and followers over the years. Adding to that fact, Michigan changed its apparel sponsorship to Adidas from Nike in 2008, gaining the richest contract of its kind for any NCAA program. Simply put, Michigan has more money at its disposal than Michigan State. As much as the Spartans try to put up a fight against Michigan in the marketing field, they are fighting a losing battle: Spartan Stadium gets renovated, the Big House gets a more expensive one; new scoreboards are built in East Lansing, same thing happens in Ann Arbor. You get the point.

The additional money flooding into Ann Arbor also helps Michigan to schedule games that are prime marketing showcases, such as the “Under the Lights” matchup against Notre Dame in 2011 and last year’s season opener against defending champion Alabama in Cowboy Stadium. This marketing battle that Michigan is winning goes hand-in-hand with the school’s advantages in recruiting. High school players want to play ball where they can feel like rock stars, and with new jerseys, stadium renovations, and high-stakes primetime games abounding, the University of Michigan holds a huge upper hand over the Spartans.

I hope this isn’t taken as too much of a bash on Michigan State University, and it is worth noting some of the Spartans’ attributes. They are solid at recruiting, and whereas Dantonio and his staff may not always get the highest-ranked players, they do fill positions of need with hard workers willing to get the job done. And Michigan State certainly isn’t bad at marketing their sports programs. Mark Hollis is an impressive AD and has set up previously unheard of plans, such as playing a basketball game on an aircraft carrier. Offensively speaking, the Spartans have some work to do to catch up with Michigan for the 2013 season, and another mediocre year might spell disaster down the line. Because of these reasons, I believe Paul Bunyan will be able to stay calm and comfortable in Ann Arbor for a majority of the next decade, eerily similar to the Lloyd Carr era.

Prepare yourselves Spartan fans, and remember before you mutter, “wait until basketball season” under your breath: those victories aren’t guaranteed anymore since Michigan happens to be the national runner-ups after last season. So, Coach Izzo, you have your work cut out for you.

Then again, I could be wrong.

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Dan Krier is the host of Walk the Line for Impact Sports.

Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports

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