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The Good, The Bad, The Random in MSU football’s win at Northwestern

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What a weekend, huh?

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Northwestern Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Wow is it nice ending the weekend in a perfect mood.

Spartans won. Lions won. And, of course, a team we all hate fell to a Big Ten West opponent pretty hard. That’s right, SUCK IT ILLINOIS.

Saturday started a tad rocky for our Spartans but ended without an ounce of stress. It was great. Let’s talk about it again.

THE GOOD

Mr. 110. What can be said about Mark Dantonio?

Since the Duffy Daugherty Era leading up to Dantonio’s hire, MSU football has been filled with more valleys than peaks. Once in a while it was great, a lot of times it was just OK and all the other times were rough.

It’s surreal to see where we are now after going back 14 years before it all started. The idea of a coach finding national success here and staying? The idea of MSU once again becoming a perennial Big Ten contender? The idea of the rivalry flipping to MSU’s side? All of that seemed too good to be true.

But yet, here we are with Mark Dantonio. And we thank him for making the last 110 wins too good to ever forget.

How about Brian Lewerke so far this season? He’s been strong for the better part of this season and Saturday was another good outing. Three touchdown passes, no interceptions and he now has the second most passing yards in the Big Ten with 1,025 yards (27 yards behind Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez).

Lewerke’s best work came on the final drive of the first half in his 11 yard touchdown pass to Cody White to make it a 14-3 game. Maybe it just felt like this to fans watching, but I like to believe that gave the team a huge sigh of relief heading into halftime knowing they have a two possession cushion to work with rather than just four points. The offense seemed looser in the second half.

Joe Bachie is a bonafide animal. Thirteen solo tackles (14 total), two tackles for loss, a sack and building a green and white wall on Northwestern’s first red zone trip of the afternoon.

His performance wasn’t just great on TV — it was even better in the film room as Mark Dantonio remarked how many production points he scored (I won’t even act like I know what those are).

I laughed when the referee called Josiah Scott inbounds on his interception. I thought there was NO WAY he possibly could have gotten his feet in on that catch and was wondering how the ref could be so blind to even think that.

Nope — sure enough the ref was right. Scott defied physics on this pick.

That was EXTRA clutch because it set the table for MSU’s second scoring drive. MSU bouncing back from its zero forced turnover performance to nabbing three interceptions was pretty cool.

Darrell Stewart is that dude. Now leading the Big Ten with 439 receiving yards, Stewart has established himself as Lewerke’s top target and a complete stud out of the slot. In his three games since moving back into the slot after Jalen Nailor’s injury, Stewart has 24 catches for 383 yards. If you took just those three games, he would still be leading the Big Ten in receiving yards.

Oh, and he can also plant you firmly into the ground like you’re a new piece of landscaping.

I’m honestly not worried about Matt Coghlin. He had four misses in a row at one point which were from 47 yards, 31 yards (alright that one was a bad one), 47 yards with a Sun Devil nearly beating the ball to the holder and a 40 yarder in an Evanston wind tunnel. Three of those misses, yeah, you can see how a college kicker could miss those. Even one as good as Coghlin. He drilled his last field goal and he’ll be money going forward.

Alright, some quick hits now.

Brandon Sowards was solid in the punt return game. When his number was called he rattled off a few 8-10 yard returns. Those aren’t Devin Hester numbers, but I feel like getting a solid chunk like that is overlooked in the punt game a lot.

Love seeing Matt Seybert step in and score a pair of touchdowns in place for injured Matt Dotson. MSU now has has three tight end touchdowns this season after a year where they had just two.

Raequan Williams could chase down a cheetah in an open plot of land and I won’t hear any arguments against it.

Lol, what?

THE BAD

MSU is still good at pointing the gun straight at their foot and pulling the trigger over and over and over again. They eventually straightened it out in the second half, but here’s a sequence after MSU’s first touchdown.

-Cody White fumble on the punt return to set up the Wildcats

-Two possessions later: Personal foul on the first play on MSU’s 42 yard line, backing it up to 1st-and-25 from MSU’s 27 instead.

-Next possession: Jet sweep for a loss of eight on second down, making it a 3rd-and-18 that wasn’t converted.

-Next possession: Three straight pass plays (all incomplete) after Elijah Collins was road-grating the Wildcats into oblivion.

-Next possession: Hey! A touchdown!

Again, it got straightened out in the second half. Thank goodness this was Northwestern and not either of our trips to Columbus or Madison. You can get away with making mistakes like that against the Wildcats this year, but not many other teams on the road.

Tough day for White on the punt return game with a fumble and a muff that was recovered by him. MSU needs to find an answer for the return game, and it looks like it’s either White or Sowards from here on out.

RIP to under 38.5. I thought that was the mortal lock of the year until Northwestern barnstormed 63 yards for a touchdown against MSU’s backups. That was heartbreaking.

MSU Twitter posted an amazing tribute video narrated by Tom Izzo after the game. It was taken down about an hour later and hasn’t been posted again yet. So that’s a big ol’ bummer.

THE RANDOM

MSU made it back into the AP Poll after a one-week hiatus, sliding in at No. 25. MSU benefitted from TCU and Arizona State losing as the Sun Devils couldn’t rely on a PAC 12 officiating crew to bail them out against another PAC 12 team. A shame, really.

Oh, but don’t worry, the PAC 12 got to have another big outcome decided by their officials. This time it was Ole Miss as the victims with the zebras finding this play not a touchdown.

I know the PAC 12 will feign sorrow and come out with some statement, but let’s face it, they’re thrilled. You really think anyone in those offices is losing sleep on their officiating crews blowing calls and not reviewing huge plays to give their teams in their ailing conference victories? “Ohhhh noooo, our own officiating errors led to an outcome that we absolutely wanted? That’s AWFUL!” Please...

Anyway, back to MSU-ish related news. Old friend Pat Narduzzi got Pitt to destroy the hopes and dreams of another team with national title hopes with a nifty trick play at the end of the game. However, this moment is what I thought was worth pointing out.

This was awesome by the Free Press.

Also, this was hilarious by the Free Press. How has something three weeks old aged so poorly, so fast?

On that topic, here are some unsolicited thoughts on other Big Ten games you didn’t ask for...

-Two top 15 teams met in Madison coming off bye weeks. One team is loaded with four and five star talent, has a $9 million head coach and has the mantra of “who’s got it better than us?!” The other team won the game by 21 points after a 35-0 start to the contest.

-Watching Lovie Smith almost achieve doing the bare minimum to barely justify his $5 million annual contract was great television. Of course the Illini lost, but man, what a fun game.

-Indiana beat another high school team pretty good, making it 3-1 on the season after wins against Ball State, Eastern Illinois and UConn. They’re one loss was a one thousand point defeat to Ohio State. I cannot get a read on these Hoosiers.

-Ohio State is a death machine.

-And then there’s Rutgers.

MSU being in the top five here is pretty neat.

MSU opens up as 14 point favorites against Indiana next week. Let’s place our bets...

Poll

Who do you got next Saturday?

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    MSU -14
    (334 votes)
  • 29%
    Indiana +14
    (143 votes)
477 votes total Vote Now

And, as always, remember to celebrate this win. GO GREEN