It's 1:00 PM on October 25, 2009. I'm driving down Collingwood to head to the Engineering Building to write an article. The following questions are in my head: When has a prevent defense ever worked? Why couldn't MSU score a touchdown with a first and goal from the one? And most of all, why do these losses always seem to happen to Michigan State?
It's 10:00 PM on October 24, 2009. Michigan State is down by three and Kirk Cousins has just been sacked on two consecutive downs. For some reason, I'm feeling confident. MSU has had a knack for picking up third and longs all season, and why should tonight be any different? I see Brian Linthicum catch the pass several yards short of HOLY CRAP A LATERAL. Blair White takes the ball to the Iowa 30. It's a first down for MSU.
It's 11:30 AM on October 25, 2009. I'm still replaying the game through my head. Why are we only rushing three men when the blitz has worked all night? Do Ricky Stanzi and Marvin McNutt have some sort of telepathic connection? From the way that slant was timed, that's the only explanation I have.
It's 10:05 PM on October 24, 2009. It's second and 10 for MSU on the Iowa 30. Kirk Cousins drops back and decides to throw into what seems like octuple coverage. I immediately have flashbacks to the Notre Dame game where Cousins forced a play that cost State the game. I cringe, but people are cheering. Why would they cheer an inter... no way.
TOUCHDOWN! Blair White plucks the ball out of the air, and after the extra point, the Spartans lead 13-9. I feel worried.
It's 2:00 PM on October 25, 2009. Writing this preview, I don't know how much I can blame the coaching staff for this loss. Both teams played hard, but when it came down to MSU's goal line situations, Iowa clearly had the stronger lines. When well-coached and strong meets well-coached and stronger, well-coached and stronger will win every time.
It's 10:15 PM on October 24, 2009. Iowa is inside Michigan State's 20. Stanzi drops back to pass. He throws and it's INTERCEPTED BY CHRIS L. RUCKER! THE SPARTANS WIN! THE SPARTANS - are flagged for defensive holding. Not satisfied with winning the normal way, Michigan State seems hellbent on adding a degree of difficulty to its games. It's now first and goal with 15 seconds left, and I am about to lose it.
It's 10:45 PM on October 24, 2009. I'm numb. Speechless. Confused. Dazed. This is not a new feeling.
It's 2:20 PM on October 25, 2009. Somebody just asked someone else how the game was last night. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, AND THIS IS NOT HOW YOU DO SMALL TALK.
It's 10:30 PM on October 24, 2009. In a minute, my emotional well-being will pull a 180. I will wonder why we couldn't have scored more touchdowns. I will question the usefulness of the prevent defense. I will wonder if I dreamed what I just saw. But for now it's 4th and goal with two seconds left, and I will wait for Marvin McNutt to run a perfect slant.
It's 2:30 PM on October 25, 2009. I am finishing this article, and the best metaphor I can come up for the Mark Dantonio is this - in the three years that he's been here, the team's performance relative to its record has been like a sine wave. The 2007 team was a 7-6 squad that was better than its record. The 2008 season boasted a 9-4 team that, in all honesty, was not as good as its record. It's now 2009, and we're looking at a 4-4 team that is definitely better than its record. There's no comfort in this fact, no respite. Life and football are made up of the moments that define what you are, and those moments are surrounded by stuff.
Michigan State's now 4-4, and plays at Minnesota on Saturday, October 31st at 8:00 PM.
So it goes.