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Michigan State Spartans Football: Kneejerk Reactions: MSU 52 - IU 26

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Reacting to MSU's #RealRival win over Indiana

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Gimme That Spittoon

Finally, a spread-covering blowout win for this MSU team! After several weeks' worth of struggling with inferior opponents (cough Rutgers cough Purdue cough) this MSU team put away a team with authority. Though MSU had a slim 21-20 halftime lead, and almost lost that lead on a late 3rd quarter field goal (both favors from IU kicker Griffen Oakes), MSU scored touchdowns on all three fourth quarter drives en route to doubling up IU, 52-26.

The close wins early in conference play caused MSU to slip in the polls in consecutive weeks; the attitude seemed to be "survive and advance" especially after the [insert preferred nomenclature for the final play against Michigan]. This won't cause MSU to drop in the polls but won't cause a jump either, unless USC holds on to beat Utah.

Still, this counts as style points.

Connor Cook IS Elite

I joked earlier this season about Cook being "a" elite Quarterback, mostly because it feels like there's still some portions of the Spartan fanbase that have ambivalent feelings towards him. The last two games have shown just how valuable he is to this MSU team: 30-for-52, 398 yards, four touchdowns, and six carries for 40 yards (sack-adjusted) to boot. Cook makes NFL throws right now, and the combination of Cook and Aaron Burbridge will be terrifying for every opponent from here on out. IU did manage four sacks and while I'm not totally sure how that happened, a bye week for the offensive line to get healthy can only help matters. Here's the point: if you're still worried about the fact that he wasn't voted captain, it doesn't seem to be bothering Cook too much.

Also, what was the deal with Cook sort of falling over just before snaps from the shotgun? That was weird and confusing.

Would You Rather?

I posed this question on Twitter:

And the result was overwhelming. You prefer the late blowout after much of a game is close(10 votes) to a game where MSU cleans up for most of the game but lets an opponent back into it late (0 votes).

The moral of the story is: if you are debating about how you'd rather win, your program is in a good place.

Special Teams Regressed.. In A Good Way!

I kind of figured that special teams couldn't get worse after Regular Michigan posted a +14 in average field position last week. And I was right! Despite the bad snap on the first field goal attempt and inconsistent punting from Jake Hartbarger, overall special teams were a win for MSU. That might have had more to do with Indiana's ineptitude on the three missed kicks, but R.J Shelton had a nice return and Kevin Cronin notched a few touchbacks on kickoffs, too. It wasn't a flawless special teams day, but it certainly was regression to the mean.

Defensive Thoughts

The 33-yard run by Jordan Howard will skew some things, but overall I thought the rushing defense was solid against Howard, who is objectively a terrific back. IU was able to throw the ball around a bit, but consider this: in 2013, a Kevin Wilson-led IU came into Spartan Stadium and put up 28 against that Rose Bowl-winning defense. I feel okay about this result.

Officiating

This was big in the stadium. I think that the refs missed some calls, but ultimately I didn't think they mattered all that much. After the bogus unnecessary roughness, IU still had to finish that drive (and they did, with a tunnel-screen TD). After the strange twirl-then-fumble play that was ruled as forward progress stopped, IU stalled and punted. There was some tension in the stadium because it wasn't a blowout at first; I think that was a large factor in Spartan fan frustration.