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The Good, The Bad, The Random in MSU football’s win over Maryland

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Welcome back gang. Let’s rehash Saturday.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 30 Maryland at Michigan State Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Well, we get one more of these.

MSU, by definition, won a football game. Against Maryland. I was thrilled to be one of 17 people at the game.

Let’s dive into it.

THE GOOD

Matt Coghlin wasn’t perfect, but he was pretty damn good. Four of five field goals made as he kicked our way to Ford Field or Yankee Stadium or wherever six wins gets you these days. He’s struggled this season – it’s important to recognize the kind of bounce back he had to drill four kicks and the eventual game-winner from 33 yards.

The true freshmen on offense had themselves an afternoon as Tre Mosley, Anthony Williams Jr. and Julian Barnett all combined for 185 receiving yards. Mosley and Williams accounted for 61 yards on the Spartans game-winning drive too. Not a banner day for the offense, but there was a bright spot.

It was nice to see Kenny Willekes go for 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in his final game at Spartan Stadium.

And, of course, this moment with Josh Butler has to be the best thing that happened.

It’s simply awful what he’s gone through in losing both parents throughout his time at MSU. The resilience he’s showed not just on the field, but also off of it, really shows you the strong person he is. Seeing him with both of his dogs to kick off the afternoon was a great moment.

THE BAD

What do you think? The same as always.

The red zone offense was not great against a not great team once again. The first three trips to the red zone resulted in…three points. Three total points. Against a Maryland defense that just got lit up by 54 points against Nebraska. Even at the end of the game MSU settled for a field goal, refusing to put the ball in the end zone. Whatever, it doesn’t matter at this point. There’s one game left that, really, no one will care about.

I’ll literally pay out of pocket for a competent punt returner next season. Just send my information to the NCAA compliance office, we’ll get my punishment plea bargain sorted out eventually. Tied game, Maryland punts with 9:30 left and the punt returner had two options – fair catch it at the 21, or realize no one was within 10 yards of him and actually return it. Or, apparently, option C of letting the ball go and roll to the 11. Once you see that sequence, like, 80 times in the same season it gets irritating.

Stop handing the ball off on 4th and 1. MSU getting stuffed on handoffs up the middle are more of a guarantee than the 50/50 Raffle mysteriously going unclaimed every Saturday.

Maryland is just awful. I was in awe of how bad they were. Yeah, Rutgers is worse, but you expect that. I was blown away with how bad the Terps were. That quarterback situation makes MSU’s look like the old days of the Hoyer-Cousins-Foles quarterback room. And we still almost lost.

Alright I’m done piling on. I can’t do this for the 100th week in a row. Alright, I mean yeah, I could. I just don’t want to beat a horse carcass that’s already been obliterated enough.

THE RANDOM

At some point in the middle of the third quarter when it truly set in that we are having another finale against another horrible team I just thought…”what’s the point?”

Yeah, a win is a win and a bowl game is a bowl game. These players fought through a little bit this season and they deserve to extend their season. I’m happy for them.

With that said…this was example No. 980 on how this program has fallen straight down an elevator shaft since 2015. Dog fighting against Maryland to reach bowl eligibility? And that wasn’t some fluke game either – Maryland and MSU are actually that close in competition to each other. I don’t want it to be true…but it is. Both teams got blown out by every good team they faced. Both teams walked into the game as Rutgers as their only win in nearly the previous two months. Both teams struggled to convince us that the sport they were playing on Saturday was the same sport the rest of the country was playing that day.

A good number of redshirts have been burnt up, and most notably on Saturday it was Brandon Wright seeing his go bye-bye as he played in his fifth game of the season. I put this in “the random” because, while I think it’s a bad strategy to light a year of eligibility on fire just for a Maryland game and Quick Lane Bowl, maybe the players don’t. I just hope they sat down and talked about it and thought about it, but I could really see this coaching staff just doing it with no purpose. I can’t trust competence anymore out of this staff. Then again, they all likely won’t be here in three years anyway, so why not burn them all up?

I don’t care about the “program win” hats one way or another. I get why people don’t like them – saying that going 6-6 is a “program win” seems pretty embarrassing and Illinois-esque just five seasons removed from the College Football Playoff.

At the end of the day though, good for the players and especially the young ones to extend their season. Will whatever bowl game not be the sexiest one to play in? Yeah, they’re no Rose Bowls. But it’s better than nothing. Now will this catapult MSU into a great season next year a la 2013? No, probably not. But hopefully it’s a chance for these young Spartans to grow.

If they want hats to celebrate the win, so be it. Any source of happiness for the players is a good one for me.

Here’s some unsolicited thoughts on other Big Ten games:

· Obviously UM got clapped once again by OSU. And I keep hearing that recruiting is the reason they can’t even make these games competitive against them…but how? How do we constantly hear about how great their classes are every offseason and then have it used as an excuse five months later every year?

· You can also tell how coddled Jim Harbaugh is by the local media if he thinks this legitimate question is an insult (video below). For once someone in that press room asks a real, pressing question and doesn’t treat it like a fan club gathering and this is how he reacts? Alright man.

· Alright, onto a game that actually mattered – I’m actually bummed Minnesota won’t be making it to Indy. Half of it is because I like PJ Fleck (sound off on me in the comments) and the other half is that I don’t want to see Wisconsin-Ohio State again.

· Northwestern 29, Illinois 10 is the wildest score of the Big Ten season. How anyone is letting the Wildcats hang up 29 against them is beyond me.

· Congrats to Greg Schiano for finding someone willing to give him an eight year contract to coach football. Amazing fleecing right there.

IT’S BOWL PROJECTION TIME...

ESPN: One writer with MSU vs. Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl. The other writer with MSU vs. Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl.

CBS Sports: MSU vs. Florida State in the Quick Lane Bowl.

247Sports: MSU vs. Pitt in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Sporting News: MSU vs. North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl.

College Football News: MSU vs. Pitt in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Dabo Swiney, who was never favored by less than 24.5 points in every conference game this season, had this to say...

I get it’s nice to have a chip on your shoulder, but man, give it a rest. Please.

Alright, hopefully see all of you beautiful people at Ford Field on December 26. The Quick Lane Bowl is the bowl for me.

GO GREEN!