Spoiler Motivation Not Enough; Michigan Handles Their Business in Spartan Stadium
In a game that could've silenced thousands of questions surrounding the Michigan State football team, Saturday's 32-23 loss to Michigan at home only created more.
Three quarterbacks played in the game, two of them (Terry and Lewerke) were banged up at times during the game. Dantonio doesn't know the quarterback situation heading into next week either. "It's too soon to know that" he said directly after the Michigan game. So there's a question head into next week.
One of the most interesting moments in this game regarding quarterback play was when Mark Dantonio admitting in a halftime interview that QB Tyler O'Connor audibled out of a screen call late in the 1st half to throw deep. That pass was intercepted by Jourdan Lewis.
Michigan would kick a field goal on the drive that took all 27 seconds they had left in the half.
Questions have been asked all year on why the defense has been so suspect. In this game, Michigan scored on every single drive of the 1st half, building a 27-10 lead going into half.
The Spartans defense finally got their heads on straight in the second half only giving up five points in the 2nd half, though that number is really three points because the last two points were scored because of a failed two-point conversion. Jabrill Peppers scooped a bad option pitch for the conversion score.
The Spartans will also rue missed opportunities from this game. With a first and goal set inside of the five yard line, the Spartans ran LJ Scott four times. Loss of one, one yard gain, no gain, loss of two. Lack of creative play calling has killed Michigan State in the past and it did in this sequence here.
Michael Geiger hit a 52 yard field goal during the game but missed from 34 yards out.
Hindsight is obviously 20/20 but if Michigan State kicks a field goal instead of running Scott again and if Geiger makes that kick and the one he previously missed all of a sudden Donnie Corley's "garbage time" TD could have been the tying score at 30-29 with an extra point pending.
It's funny how those field goals can add up in a game.
It's a historic slide the Spartans are on now. With this loss the Spartans have dropped their sixth straight contest, a number that hasn't happened in East Lansing since Frank "Muddy" Waters in 1982. That team started 0-7.
Put it another way, Michigan State hasn't been this bad in football since John Leister, Tony Ellis, Otis Grant and Darryl Dixon suited up in green and white for Coach Waters. Most students currently at Michigan State weren't even born yet when those guys were playing.
With a need to win out (or pray to the college football Gods that 5-7 teams get in again) for a bowl game, a loss to the major rival, there isn't much to salvage from this season any more. I would say the air is out of the sails but it's been calm winds since the BYU game. This is more like the sails have been shredded and torn apart by pirates.
Michigan State clearly has an eye to the future with all of the young players coming into the games now, but for a program coming off of a College Football Playoff appearance, this is truly one of the most dismal seasons in Michigan State history, and it can still get worse.