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MSU Football: The Good, The Bad, The Random vs. Indiana

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Let’s look at the win that made our Spartans bowl-eligible

Indiana v Michigan State Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

A win is a win.

Every great season you’ll win a game it really doesn’t seem like you should. I’m hoping and assuming that was this game? Anyway, the football gods and a late fourth quarter surge saved homecoming and folks...OUR SPARTANS ARE GOING BOWLING, BABY!

Let’s dive into The Good, The Bad and The Random gang. Let’s duke it out in the comments as always.

The Good

The defense: This is the “no duh” of the week – the defense won this game. That’s odd considering they forced zero turnovers, but they held the Hoosiers out of the end zone (thank you IU for kicking the field goal on our three yard line). Now let’s break out specifically what the defense did well…

Run defense: The Spartans had to let the Hoosiers try to beat them through the air with a raw quarterback, and that’s exactly what unfolded. IU was bottled up to 2.7 yards per carry on 35 attempts, and running back Morgan Ellison was also unable to get going. Shoutout to Joe Bachie with his game-high 13 tackles and Justin Layne and Andrew Dowell each adding 10 of their own.

Third down defense: The Big Ten’s second-best third down defense continued to shine with holding the Hoosiers to four conversions on 17 attempts. At home, the Spartans are now holding opposing offenses to a 26 percent conversion rate.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Cody White: Without a doubt the breakout player of the game. One year ago he was leading Walled Lake Western into the high school playoffs. On Saturday he corralled six catches for 99 yards after walking into the game with just 50 receiving yards on the year. Usual suspects Felton Davis and Darrell Stewart were solid on Saturday, but White’s production made him the undisputed star of the passing game.

Jake Hartbarger: Whenever there’s a low-scoring game, more times than not you can thank the punter for his job. Saturday was no different as Hartbarger averaged 46.2 yards per punt and also booted a 62-yarder on his first attempt.

Hunter Rison: Only two catches on the day, but both of them helped win the game. The first came on a four yard catch on 4th-and-3 to continue the Spartans eventual game-winning touchdown drive. Later, on 3rd-and-8, he reeled in a nine yard pass to continue the second touchdown drive. The true freshman came to play.

The Bad

The pass game: You know how having “the defense” in The Good section was a no-brainer? Yeah, that’s the same with having the passing game in this section. For the first time in three weeks, there was no bad weather to blame the lackluster passing game on. In perfect conditions, Brian Lewerke looked flustered and couldn’t hit his receivers for big plays for the better part of the game. Indiana’s defense also did a great job making the windows tight, but some passes weren’t even close. If the pass game stalls for a fourth game in a row, the Spartans will be in trouble against Northwestern.

The run game: On 44 attempts the Spartans got – get this – 89 yards. 18 of those came on LJ Scott’s touchdown where Indiana let him score so they could get the ball back in a one-possession game (very smart on their part).

All in all, the lack of offensive production was alarming. This wasn’t the Buckeyes or Nittany Lions defense – this was middle-of-the-pack Indiana. Not often you walk away from a win feeling uneasy about the future, but the offense – especially the passing game – is a major concern moving forward.

That trick play...: Third and goal at the five in the second quarter. Connor Heyward throwing to Brian Lewerke in the end zone on a wheel route. It ended exactly how anyone thought it would. Whoever called that play had serious money on Indiana +7.

Poll

How concerned are you with this offense?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Very concerned — DEFCON 1 levels
    (114 votes)
  • 67%
    Pretty concerned but not totally panicking yet
    (556 votes)
  • 15%
    Just a little concerning, this was a hiccup
    (126 votes)
  • 3%
    Not worried at all
    (32 votes)
828 votes total Vote Now

The Random

Play of the game: HOT TAKE ALERT (maybe most of you will agree, I don’t know). Here it comes – the play of the game was Indiana electing to kick a field goal on the MSU three yard line. I have no idea why they didn’t go for it on 4th-and-2. Let’s say they come up short – why would they not feel comfortable having MSU pinned against the goal line, especially considering how putrid the Spartan offense was to that point? If you’re a road underdog looking for a season-making win, that was your chance to take a well-calculated risk and try to throw the dagger in. Thank goodness they didn’t.

They’re trying to kill us: That’s now four-straight wins decided by one possession. Would it kill this team to give us a drama-free win?

Man I feel so pretentious complaining about how this team is winning after a 3-9 season. Like complaining that my (imaginary) BMW doesn’t get the gas mileage my Malibu used to get.

Connor Cook wasn’t named captain because...: He throws his bean bags like this (jump to the 30 second mark).

All well, who am I to question how a Rose Bowl champ throws objects?

AP rankings: MSU is now No. 16 in the AP Poll. And anyone notice a certain team missing? Huh, I don’t either.

Bowling projections: Citrus Bowl has been projected by ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura and CBSSports’ Jerry Palm, both picking Auburn as the opponent.

Outback Bowl has been projected by SBNation’s Jason Kirk and ESPN’s David Hale, both matching LSU against the Spartans.

Gambling #disrespekt? Or not?: Here is the BetOnline opening line...

And a few Vegas lines...

I don’t know who or what to believe anymore.

Follow this guy if you’re not already: Mike Mulholland, an incredible photographer for MLive, took this beauty last night (but really, that’s standard for his work)

As always, don’t forget to celebrate this week: