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The Good, The Bad, The Random in MSU football’s loss vs. Indiana

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Well, here we are again

NCAA Football: Indiana at Michigan State Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Long, dragged out sigh

Well, here we are again.

Another game at Spartan Stadium, another game that was very difficult to continue watching in the second half.

Let’s start our week with dissecting this misery.

THE GOOD

The defense. All right so the unit wasn’t great but that’s not the name of this category. It’s just called “The Good” and the defense bounced back from last week’s tough outing so here we are.

Yes, the defense technically let up 24 points in the first half, but 17 of those points came after three Michigan State turnovers that gave Indiana the ball in MSU territory. They held Indiana’s run game to a pedestrian 113 yards on 39 carries, Antjuan Simmons racked up 14 tackles and Shakur Brown got two takeaways. They were good on Saturday.

I’m glad they changed the quarterbacks after the second interception instead of just letting Rocky Lombardi continue whatever he was doing out there like they did at Iowa. I’m really reaching to put this in “The Good” section, but yes, looking at the situation and saying “all right, this has gone on for too long” should get a nod of approval I suppose.

There’s only five more games of this. That’s a positive (although, it is possible Michigan State gets into a bowl game this season given that bowl eligibility rules were waived, but there are also less bowls to choose from this season).

THE BAD

It’s awe-inspiring how bad this run game is. We talked about it in the 3-2-1 Preview — Indiana’s run defense is just fine at best. And MSU still couldn’t do anything against it.

MSU’s offensive line doesn’t look like they belong in the Big Ten, and that’s unfortunate when they are playing a conference-only schedule. Just 60 yards on 24 carries and a lost fumble by Anthony Williams Jr. The only answer to fixing this is just waiting until 2021 and praying something changes in the offseason.

It’s also a shame that MSU has this much talent at wide receiver and can’t find a way to get them the ball. Jayden Reed with seven catches was fine, but just one catch for Jalen Nailor and zero for Ricky White. At this point it’s fair to wonder if White will even get 196 yards the rest of the season since the bus left Ann Arbor.

MSU doesn’t have a lot of talent on this team, but the wide receiver corps is objectively in the top-five of the conference. It’s just a shame they can’t utilize them.

And about that, it’s confusing and a shame what’s happened to Rocky. He looked straight-up good in the first two weeks. Now, it looks like an inevitable interception is coming whenever the slightest bit of pressure closes in on him.

Look, Payton Thorne isn’t going to step in and begin a Heisman campaign. But he needs more than a fair chance from this fan base. Let’s remember that he is a redshirt freshman that came in here as a three-star recuit. He is a work in progress, and that progress is only made with reps.

I like the idea of Thorne playing the rest of the season. This team is in such dire standing that it’s fair to only start thinking about the future, and Thorne getting some reps under his shoulder pads is certainly one way to gear up for 2022. Yes, 2022. We will see if the coaching staff goes with him the rest of the way.

I think Ty Fryfogle just caught another 13 yard pass after the cornerbacks began the play with 15 yards of cushion on the boundary. I don’t know who made the decision to seemingly play prevent defense for the entire first half, but that was an odd choice.

THE RANDOM

I have to say, nothing washes the bad taste of a loss out of your mouth quite like watching Michigan getting pasted in prime time. Does that 27-24 win look less and less impressive by the week? Sure. Does that win also mean we get bragging rights and that we get the green light to dance on their 1-3 grave? YOU BETCHA, ISN’T THIS GREAT?!?

It’s one thing to watch your rival crumble, but it’s another to watch them do it in year six of their savior’s regime when the media was largely pedaling storylines year after year despite no results to justify them.

Also, Penn State and Michigan once again reiterated a very important takeaway for Spartan fans: It’s better to be a fan of a bad team in year one of a rebuild than it is to be a fan of a bad team in year six or seven of a regime. One team’s elevator has potential to go up, the other two team’s have their elevator car plummeting down like it’s Tower of Terror.

It’s actually gotten so bad for Penn State and Nebraska that this is how the TV guide is selling their games to potential viewers.

Also, shoutout to Wisconsin safety and Detroit kid Scotty Nelson for paying tribute to Cassius Winston’s late brother after his interception against Michigan.

The lines are out and MSU opened as a three-point underdog against Maryland. Have to say, going to be wildly difficult to bet on the Spartans for the rest of the season. I don’t have any faith in the offense scoring two touchdowns in a game the rest of the way, and that’ll be tough to cash in bets with that predicament.

All right gang, basketball season will be here before we know it.

GO GREEN!