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MSU football: The Good, The Bad, The Random vs. Northwestern

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Welp, let’s take a look back at the second loss of the season

Michigan State v Northwestern

The one possession games don’t stop. Unfortunately, the winning did.

Michigan State’s performance was baffling on Saturday, alternating between a stale offense and porous defense en route to a triple overtime loss to Northwestern.

We’ve got some good, you know we’ve got some bad and we’ve got a little bit of random too.

Let’s get into it.

The Good

Cody White: It’s now clear – after a 165 yard, two touchdown performance – that White has joined Felton Davis and Darrell Stewart to complete the three-headed monster at receiver. Minus the fumble that took points right off the board, the true freshman has been solid the last two games, and he was huge in getting MSU to overtime.

Felton Davis: Sure-handed Felton Davis was the man again with two touchdowns and 95 yards, inculding the Randy Moss-esque catch to tie the game late in regulation.

Michigan State v Northwestern

Offensive play-calling: The offensive play-calling was fine all game, unless “fumbling in the red zone” or “missing wide-open receivers” or “missing chip shot field goals” or “committing back-breaking penalties” was part of the play calls. The execution wasn’t there by the players, and with a young team you’ll get those kind of games. This was not on Dave Warner.

Overtime offense: Until the last fatal play, the offense did their job from the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. Scoring two touchdowns in overtime usually will give you a good chance of winning, but not Saturday.

Run defense: While the passing defense was getting gashed the entire night, the run defense held firm by allowing just 2.3 yards per carry. To this point, the run defense has been outstanding this season.

The Bad

Ball protection: Cody White’s fumble inside the ten yard line was back-breaking, but that’s now in the DNA of MSU football. This team has a fumbling problem, and that play took at least three points off the board.

Michigan State v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Defense in overtime: I don’t know whose job it is to tell the whole team that overtime has started, but they forgot to tell the defense. The offense did their job, and the defense didn’t. With the soft pass coverage and arm tackling efforts, Northwestern scored easily all three overtimes.

Run game: The trio of LJ Scott, Gerald Holmes and Madre London didn’t have an effect on the game against Northwestern’s stout run defense. The Wildcats run defense has been solid all year, and that continued against the Spartans.

Pass defense: Clayton Thorson looked like Tom Brady due to the soft coverage and lack of pass rush. And Josiah Scott’s dropped interception later led to the Wildcats first touchdown. Unusual game for the usually lockdown passing defense, especially against an offense not known for their passing game.

Michigan State v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Matt Coghlin: The 46-yarder was nice, but it didn’t get better after that. The 51-yarder missed should also be on Luke Campbell and his false start penalty to push it back an important five yards, but extremely untimely penalties were the theme of the game. The missed 32-yarder? Yeah, not ideal. I wonder if this will give Cole Hahn a chance to win the job as Coghlin falls to 7-for-11 on the year.

Penalties: Literally from the opening kickoff the Spartans were hellbent on committing as many game-changing penalties as possible. Whether it was a penalty to let the Northwestern offense get out of playing from deep in their zone or Cole Chewins holding penalty to boot the Spartans from inside the 10 yard line, the Spartans couldn’t stop hurting themselves.

The Random

Brian Lewerke: I really didn’t know whether to put him in The Good or The Bad, so how does this sound? In some cases, he looked great in his record-breaking performance – especially late in the game. However, he also had some WTF moments like the final play, hitting defense backs (who luckily don’t know how to catch) in stride and not even seeing open receivers due for big plays. We know how talented he is, but there’s still some growing to do here for White Lightning.

Place your bets: If -7.5 is the spread, I’m sorry, I might put the entire bank account on Penn State.

Then again, maybe don’t take betting advice from me...

Bowl Projections: SBNation’s Jason Kirk is projection the Citrus Bowl (against LSU). ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura is projecting the Pin Stripe Bowl (WTF? We’re not that bad. Anyway, against Bowling Green). ESPN’s David Hale is picking the Outback Bowl (against LSU). Sports Illustrated’s Eric Single is picking the Outback Bowl (against Mississippi State). CBS Sports Jerry Palm is going with the Citrus Bowl (against Auburn).

Poor punter:

Rest of the season: Right now, it seems like a pretty cold take to think this year will end at 8-4. I don’t see how this team beats Penn State or Ohio State, and Maryland at home and Rutgers High School to end the season seems like two wins to me. With everything surrounding this season -- the youth, the horrible offseason and stacked division — 8-4 seems like a solid season to me. Does it to you?

Poll

Would you be happy with an 8-4 season?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Yes, definitely
    (282 votes)
  • 36%
    I mean, I guess?
    (181 votes)
  • 7%
    Absolutely not
    (39 votes)
502 votes total Vote Now

See y’all next Saturday: Noon kickoff. Chilly temperatures. Brace yourselves.