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Recap: Sorry for partly rocking

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

There's not really a whole lot to say after a performance like that. This is probably going to be a short recap.

MSU defeated Purdue 14-0, with one defensive score in the first half and an offensive one in the second. It was an ugly day for weather, so we canceled the tailgate. Cold and wet. It was MSU's first shutout since 2011 and first Big Ten shutout since 1999.

But a win's a win, so you take it. For about the 100th time this year, a football coach in this state said his team wouldn't apologize for winning. I bought my MSU-Michigan tickets before the game, so maybe I was overlooking the opponent, too.


Looking back at my keys to the game.


Run the ball - This was the only competent part of MSU's offense for three quarters. Jeremy Langford went over 100 yards for the second straight game, getting 131 yards on 24 carries (5.5 YPC). Delton Williams had three carries for eight yards, but MSU stuck with the hot hand Langford, and it was working.

Avoid big plays - Purdue's longest run was 14 yards. They did have some long screen passes, including a 43-yarder to running back Akeem Hunt.

Avoid turnovers - Zero turnovers for MSU, and that was huge. One turnover by MSU's offense could have been costly, but they've done a great job holding onto the ball this year, if nothing else. On the other side, Denicos Allen returned a fumble 45 yards for what would be a big touchdown.

For Purdue

Get to the quarterback -  Connor Cook was not sacked, didn't face too much pressure.

Bend, but don't break - Didn't really bend, but the one time MSU got in the red zone, it turned into a touchdown.

Stick around - All Purdue needed was one big mistake by MSU or play to tie things up. It never came. Being short on two field goals didn't help.

Looking back at all sides of the ball.


No, you don't change the quarterback in the seventh game of the season. Don't understand how this was brought up. Cook is the guy unless he gets hurt. You live and die with him the rest of the year.

As for his play (13-for-25, 107 yards), it was obviously discouraging. But he was making the right reads and finding the open guys. He was just missing them. Sometimes badly. In the past two weeks, he was hitting those plays. Most of it comes back to his footwork. He's making throws with his upper body, and that causes the bad accuracy.

In a sense, since we've seen him make those throws, it can be fixed. But he'll always have the potential to just be completely off. Be glad this happened against Purdue and not someone else. He went 4-for-6 for 74 yards in the fourth quarter, so he did make the plays at the end when he needed to.

But when you're quarterback is off, run the ball, especially when your running back is averaging nearly six yards per carry. Langford has established himself as the No. 1 guy, and with a hot hand, MSU treated him like that. But when Purdue is controlling the clock, one bad series of playcalls is costly, and there were a few times MSU passed on first and second down after a Langford run. I understand trying to get Cook out of his funk, and again, the throws were there to be made, but this is still a team that's better at running the ball than passing it.

MSU's lone touchdown was set up by a tight end screen pass to Josiah Price. The Brian Linthicum Special. It was followed by a WR reverse pass from Tony Lippett to Andrew Gleichert for a five-yard touchdown pass. Unnecessary? Maybe. But it worked, so whatever.

The receivers didn't seem to be giving the greatest efforts at times, and they still can't block for bubble screens. Lippett had five catches for 49 yards. No one else had more than two catches.

R.J. Shelton has become MSU's No. 2 running back used solely on jet sweeps. He had five carries for 24 yards. It's pretty much guaranteed he's getting the ball when he's in motion. I expect MSU to use more play-action down the road, given how much they're showing that play.

Reports of MSU's offensive arrival were premature. This team still has little margin for error, whether it's missing an open receiver or a couple of bad playcalls.


It's weird when you're a little meh about a shutout, but that's how high the expectations have gotten. Purdue was manball-ing MSU early on, but MSU recovered. Purdue didn't have a three-and-out until the third quarter, and with this game matching two of the best punters, it certainly set the MSU offense back with field position. MSU had just two drives start outside its own 40-yard line.

Of course, the defense had the game's only touchdown for three quarters. They also had five sacks and nine TFLs. Isaiah Lewis also had an interception in the end zone on a deep ball.

Purdue is one of the worst offensive teams in the nation, and, in the end, a shutout could have been expected. Purdue averaged 1.9 yards per rush and 6.4 yards per attempt. Danny Etling is going to be really good down the road.

Special teams

The battle of the Big Ten's best punters lived up to its billing. Mike Sadler only averaged 38 yards per punt on seven attempts, but three were downed inside the 20 and one was a touchback, so he didn't always have room to boom it. Purdue's Cody Webster downed four inside the 20 on six attempts and averaged 44.8 per kick. #B1G

The game could have been a lot different if Purdue wasn't short on 51- and 41-yard field goal attempts. A year ago, opponents were 24-for-25 on kicks. This year, they're 4-for-8, so the luck has swung back the other way.

Michael Geiger has still not attempted a field goal at an MSU home game.

Two punt returns for four yards for Macgarrett Kings. Nothing notable.


Again, a win's a win, and when you see all the crazy upsets across college football on Saturday, you take it. Then you see Michigan put up more than 700 yards on Indiana and realize maybe MSU's offense struggled a week ago (not really, but really). This isn't a great offense. It just needs to be OK.

Next up is at Illinois, a team that does have some offensive weapons. MSU isn't going to win many games on Connor Cook's arm, so it's important the running game is there, as it has been.

Also, MSU is bowl-eligible. After not reaching that until game No. 12 last year, it's notable. Seven bowls in seven seasons for MSU under Mark Dantonio. MSU is 35-12 since the start of the 2010 season. This is the fourth time in six seasons MSU has started 6-1 or better.

But of course, this team has bigger goals, and they're in position to contend for them. MSU is atop the Legends division as the only 3-0 team. Take them one at a time, and prepare for the Illini.