As sophomore cornerback Marlin Jackson and Michigan State star receiver Charles Rogers are bumping, jamming and chasing each other stride for stride, they won’t forget one of their trademarks – trash-talking.

“We both like to talk it up, that’s for sure,” Jackson said with a grin. “It should be a fun time.”

Both Jackson and Rogers have done more than back up their trash talk on the field, as the two are considered among the best at their positions.

Jackson has said he wants to be better than former Wolverine and now perennial Pro Bowler Charles Woodson. And while the Sharon, Pa. native hasn’t made any one-handed interceptions or returned any punts for touchdowns, he’s remained a steady, lock-down corner for Michigan – shutting down the opponents’ top receiver on most occasions.

“I’ll see first hand if he’s the next Charles Woodson or not,” Rogers said. “I look forward to the challenge he brings.”

And Jackson may face his toughest challenge yet in Rogers, a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Saginaw native boasts the perfect combination of size, speed and soft hands. Just 51 yards away from his second-straight 1,000-yard season, Rogers has averaged 118 yards per game – including an amazing 20.6 per grab.

“He’s a great football player,” Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. “He stretches the defense like nobody I’ve ever seen. He can change a game.”

On Saturday, Rogers may even change how Michigan plays defense. The Wolverines have seemed to recently adopt a bend-but-don’t-break defense to avoid their Achilles Heel – big plays. Jackson has found himself stymied as Michigan played a multitude of zone coverages over the past few games.

Instead of playing his usual physical, bump-and-run style, Jackson has been relegated to playing nearly 10 yards off receivers – letting them be on the attack.

“I love to get up in a receivers’ face and battle,” Jackson said. “But whatever the coach says I’ll do.”

Jackson said he thinks he’ll be matched up one-on-one with Rogers most of the day, and the sophomore should see plenty of action as Rogers remains one of the Spartans’ lone play-making threats. With Michigan State’s stagnant ground game and the fact backup quarterback Damon Dowdell will be taking the snaps, Michigan State coach Bobby William0s may put the game in Rogers’ hands.

Williams said he’s looking forward to the matchup.

Jackson is “probably the best corner in the conference and one of the best in the country,” Williams said. “They do a great job utilizing him, they match him up with the best receiver, and put him in single coverage, man-to-man, with no man behind him.”

Over the summer, Rogers labeled Jackson the toughest cover corner he’s played against.

“He just uses his size well and you can’t shake him,” Rogers said. “It’s always going to be a battle when we play.”

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