This is more like it (Big Box):
First, what jumps off the page: on average, IU lost a third of a yard every time they dropped back to pass. They completed just 5 passes for 11 yards, and lost 17 yards on 4 sacks by MSU, for a net of -6 yards. I figured that the MSU pass defense would be dominant in this game against the true freshman Zander Diamont. I did not expect them to force Indiana backwards on the average dropback.
The second thing is the 7.9 yards per carry by Indiana. I'm convinced that sack-adjusted yards per carry average for MSU opponents will just be artificially high going forward for two reasons. First, with the offense as powerful as it has been, teams will generally not have very many rushing attempts if and when they fall behind in the game (this was different in this game due to the inexperience at QB for IU, but the result was the same). Second, this defense is just going to give up some long running plays. I think we just have to live with it, considering how dominant the pass defense can be and also how generally efficient the defense has been. Despite averaging 7.9 yards per carry, IU had just 16.4 yards per drive. It's just an oddity.
The fourth quarter began with MSU up 35-17, similar to the 38-17 score at the start of the fourth quarter against Purdue last week. The similarities ended there. Jeremy Langford punched in a 12-yard touchdown, the defense got off of the field in 6 plays, and then the offense finished it off with a soul-crushing, six minute, ten straight rushing attempt drive. Seems like Mark Dantonio challenged the team to make a statement, and they came through. The narrative won't be dead, though, until something like this happens against a quality opponent. We'll have to wait until November 8th for that.
I also wanted to mention Connor Cook. His statline: 24-32 for 332 yards, 3 touchdowns, and the bad interception. That decision was poor, but I'd like to point out that IU didn't get a hand on a single pass other than that interception. Teams tend to intercept about 22% of all passes broken up (passes defensed+interceptions), so this was somewhat unlucky. Coach D was spot on last night and I'll give him the mic drop on the issue:
Dantonio on Cook criticisms: "That's the game we play in. Without question, you can pick apart anybody's game." Calls him efficient passer.— Chris Solari (@chrissolari) October 19, 2014
I traveled down to Bloomington for the game, as a friend of mine lives there. I will say, I was thoroughly impressed by Bloomington as a college town. The tailgating scene is fantastic; they allow you to re-enter the game, so it is possible to run back to the tailgate at halftime and throw back an extra few beers. In fact, they set off fireworks a bit prior to kickoff and also prior to the start of the second half to let you know it is time to go to the stadium. They also left Assembly Hall open for restroom usage, which was very helpful and it was cool to go in and wander a bit. We couldn't get down to the floor, unfortunately, as I assume Tom Crean was busy cutting down nets. But if you ever get the chance, it's a great trip.
You Know What Week It Is