Iowa 19, Michigan State 16 (2OT): Kneejerk Reactions

Gregory Shamus - Getty Images

What went wrong? A better question might be what didn't go wrong.

Well, that was a disaster. Some quick thoughts:

1) The coaching staff deserves the largest share of the blame for this one.

There was the obvious mishap with the "do we spike it or send out the field goal team" screw-up right before halftime - a mistake I thought we excised along with John L. Smith. (At least this one didn't result in a block and a touchdown for the other team, I guess.) Handle that correctly and the headline at the end is Kirk Ferentz's insane decision to call two timeouts for us early in that drive (one of them on 3rd and 1!) to give us time to do it instead.

The playcalling when we got the ball back up seven with about 7 minutes to go was equally silly. Time was our biggest ally at that point, so what do we do? Throw short passes and stop the clock when they fall incomplete. Almost anything else would have made more sense. Running plays have the same upside with no risk of stopping the clock, and we'd gotten guys open deep with play action passes (still risks stopping the clock, but at least there's potential to gain a big chunk of yardage). The three-yard out on 3rd and 5 was especially infuriating, as it wouldn't have been a first down or a running clock even if completed - and that's nowhere near the first time we've seen those routes called.

Several times, we had total chaos in getting the personnel set up for an apparent trick play or wacky formation (the Wildcat play that was aborted by a timeout, the one snap Connor Cook took for an option play). Here's a hint: trick plays aren't effective if you hold up a neon sign that says "WE'RE ABOUT TO RUN A TRICK PLAY."

Let's not forget that Coach Dantonio has gotten back-to-back 11-win seasons here. It's far too early to be calling for his head. But my confidence in Dan Roushar is pretty much zero at this point. This defense is too talented to waste a season with mistake after crippling mistake by the offense. Unfortunately, that's what's happening.

2) The defense played an excellent game on the whole, but those four dropped interceptions loom large.

One was followed up a few plays later by an actual interception, so it wasn't too costly, but there were several opportunities to flip field position or stop a drive before it led to another Iowa FG. It's hard to be too upset about these - even receivers are going to have a tough time with catches on a rainy day, and defenders don't get nearly as much practice at catching - but it's hard not to look back and think what might have been.

Even so, about 240 yards in regulation (257 total) and 13 points in regulation should be enough to win almost every game. Unfortunately, the offense didn't give them much help.

3) Ugly, ugly day for Andrew Maxwell.

12 of 31 can't be all on the rain. The interception wasn't necessarily his fault (batted around by multiple players), but there were far too many throwaways, especially near the goal line. That's better than forcing the ball to a receiver who's double- or triple-covered, and it may be at least partially because the plays aren't designed well enough to get anyone open, but there's no way to make 12 of 31 look good.

Aaron Burbridge broke multiple short passes over the middle for decent yardage, and Keith Mumphery caught one deep ball to set up the FG that extended our lead to 13-6 early in the fourth quarter and another decent-range pass right before halftime that should have set up a FG attempt. Everybody else combined for 3 catches and 19 yards.

4) The division race is pretty much over for us.

Even if we win out, we'd need at least two (possibly three) losses from Iowa and another one from Michigan. And winning out doesn't look at all likely at this point. Missing out on a bowl entirely is a possibility now, though I still think we probably get the last two to avoid that.

I think that about covers it. Obviously, people are upset, but let's not have any of the personal attacks and such that followed the Ohio State game.

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