Recap: Gopher Broke

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Connor Cook. Jeremy Langford. Tony Lippett. This is an MSU team carried by its once-in-a-generation defense, but who would have thought these players would be the ones to lead MSU to its first 8-0 Big Ten record in school history?

Yes, the schedule was set up for a good season, but you still have to win them. After last season's debacle and the start to this season, no one could have foreseen MSU putting up its third 11-win season in school history and third in the last four years. It one of the most dominating Big Ten seasons in recent memory.

MSU already had a spot in Indianapolis clinched, but there was still plenty to play for against Minnesota. On Senior Day and still hoping for a Plan B BCS bowl berth, MSU defeated Minnesota 14-3 in a game that never really was all that close.

BOX SCORE

Also, MSU wins the first battle of the Honeycrisp Trophy, though we'll probably lose it when the hockey teams meet next week. So enjoy it!

Honeycrisp_trophy_medium

Looking back at my keys to the game.

For MSU

Win first down - Finished with 12 first-down plays of at least five yards. Had a few three-and-outs in the middle of the game, but generally a good job.

Field position - Minnesota's best starting field position was its 37-yard line. MSU had five drives start past its 40.

Tackle Phillip Nelson -  Four "carries" for seven yards.

For Minnesota

Turnovers - Two interceptions throw by the Gophers, along with a fumble in the red zone. The Gophers did have two takeaways.

Stop MSU on third down - Biggest key to slowing MSU's offense today. Spartans went 0-for-8 after converting 47 percent coming into the game.

Run the ball - Back David Cobb averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Team averaged 2.5 (not sack-adjusted).

Thoughts on all three sides of the ball

Offense

Not a great day, though Minnesota's defense is very good. Remember, Wisconsin only scored 20 last week. I'm sure MSU tried to be a bit vanilla, too.

Connor Cook finished 10-for-20 for 143 yards (7.1 ypa) with at least three drops, one touchdown and one interception on a really odd play before halftime. Cook was rolled right and designed to throw the ball across the field. He was picked off. He also fumbled a ball away on a sack.

Jeremy Langford tied a school record with his seventh straight 100-yard game, recording 134 yards on 21 carries, including a late 44-yarder. He left the game at one point with a head or shoulder injury but returned. Nick Hill also had 23 yards on four carries, Aaron Burbridge had 35 on a reverse.

The receiver drops made an appearance again, but there were also very difficult catches from Tony Lippett (4, 71) and Macgarrett Kings (1, 24). Burbridge had two catches for 12 yards. Josiah Price had a 12-yard TD catch.

Not the best day from the offensive line. Allowed two sacks and not much running room before Langford's late run.

Defense

Another typical performance. Fifth opponent in six games to be shut out in the second half. Six of MSU's 12 regular season opponents didn't score a touchdown.

Minnesota' poor rushing numbers are above. Gophers went 9-for-25 passing with two interceptions, both by Trae Waynes. MSU had four sacks and 11 TFLs.

There were a few drives where Minnesota was surprisingly able to drive down the field on MSU. However, they scored three points in three red zone trips, along with a missed field goal and a fumble. The Gophers were scoring in 72 percent of red zone trips entering the day, which was among the best in the nation. So MSU bent a few times, but they never broke.

Conclusion

Along with MSU's win, the biggest result of Saturday was Penn State's upset of Wisconsin, knocking them out of BCS at-large hopes. MSU and Ohio State are the only B1G teams that can reach a BCS game. OSU is in there win or lose.

Auburn's crazy win over Alabama opens up the No. 2 spot for OSU, most likely. If the Buckeyes beat MSU (somewhat closely) and go to the national championship game, it would open up the Rose Bowl. If MSU is eligible, there is a good chance the Spartans would go there. If MSU is blown out by Ohio State, it could knock them out of the top 14.

There are a lot of scenarios that can play out. MSU wants Stanford to beat Arizona State, Auburn to beat Missouri (badly) and Florida State to beat Duke. Who is behind MSU in the rankings is also important.

Or MSU can go beat Ohio State and take care of its own business. The Buckeyes look far from unbeatable after being three yards from losing to Michigan. MSU hasn't reached the Rose Bowl since the 1987 season, and they've never made a "BCS" era bowl. Whatever happens, make sure you appreciate what this MSU team has done this season.

See you in Indy.

SB Nation Featured Video
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join The Only Colors

You must be a member of The Only Colors to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Only Colors. You should read them.

Join The Only Colors

You must be a member of The Only Colors to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Only Colors. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker