Michigan Stat is back to its winning ways, and we are back to our recap blog post. Here we go:
The offense looked just about as good as you would want it to. I am reluctant to call it a “bounce-back” game or a “get right” game because I don’t think the offense’s outing against Purdue was all that bad. However, this was the balanced Spartan offense we’ve become used to watching.
Quarterback Payton Thorne looked sharp with his four-touchdown outing, also having a touchdown-saving tackle at the end of the first half. With two massive games down the pipeline, this was just the outing you wanted to see from Thorne, as he looked pretty solid in every facet — deep balls, short throws, using his legs, etc.
Jayden Reed (did you know he went to high school with Thorne?) looked spectacular with a season-high eight catches and his third 100-plus receiving yard outing of the season. And he showed his full portfolio, too — burning guys on deep routes, a ridiculous back-shoulder catch and getting yards after the catch.
And, OF COURSE, we need to talk about Kenneth Walker III again. After he was bottled up early, the Heisman candidate eventually broke out and had another nice showing with 143 rushing yards and two touchdowns, keeping himself squarely in the lead for rushing yards 0n the season with 1,473 yards.
And, considering the health of the offensive line, I thought the pass protection was solid. Maryland got two sacks on the night, but with the patchwork offensive line that was missing left tackle Jarrett Horst and interior lineman Matt Carrick, it was a net positive.
And speaking of getting to the quarterback, the Spartan defense had itself a nice bounce-back game that started with quarterback pressure. The Spartans racked up four sacks with Xavier Henderson, Kyle King, Noah Harvey and Jeff Pietrowski each having one. The Michigan State front also forced four quarterback hurries, tallied seven tackles for loss and caused several intentional grounding penalties.
And quick extra shoutout to Noah Harvey for stepping in for Quavaris Crouch. Five tackles on the day, and, of course, the goal line interception that was arguably the biggest defensive play of the game.
All right, it’s time to complain about student sections. TO BE FAIR, the lower bowl was filled with students! With that said...by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, I would say ~75 percent of those students left, and the head honcho noticed.
Our team fought hard and got the job done tonight. We are going to #KeepChoppin and continue to Trust the Process #ChopLife— Mel Tucker (@Coach_mtucker) November 14, 2021
Stick around next time @MSU_FBStudents we count on you all. pic.twitter.com/hK1iyifk9k
Listen, I get it — it’s cold, games are long, there’s food and booze at home, it was a blowout, etc. HOWEVER, COME ON, LOOK AT WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU.
This team came into the game 8-1. It is putting on a season that will be talked about for a very long time for its surprisingly fast turnaround, the amazing wins and, OH YOU KNOW, THE FACT THERE’S A HEISMAN FRONTRUNNER PLAYING RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.
I’m not here to lecture people on what they should and shouldn’t do on their Saturday nights and, again, there’s plenty of reasons to not stick around. But, man, it’s disappointing to see fans flock for the exits as a team on its way to a 9-1 start and a Heisman running back trying to bolster his resumé are playing in front of home fans.
The kicking situation is bizarre now, and the lack of answers isn’t helping ease any angst. Matt Coghlin kicked the first extra point and looked to be limping after, giving the redshirt freshman walk-on Stephen Rusnak the next extra point that went to the wayside. So, Coghlin took over extra point duties from there. So it’s clear he’s hurt, but able to kick, but not preferably, but he kind of has to and yada yada yada. Just all around odd. Long field goals could be an issue moving forward if Coghlin remains dinged up.
And it wasn’t just football that picked up a nice win over the weekend as MSU’s club water polo team won a dramatic national title as well.
Back to football — let’s get into some bowl projections.
Athlon: Peach Bowl vs. Wake Forest
So, long story short, I think it comes down to this — win one of the next two games and Michigan State should be in a New Year’s Six bowl game. A 10-2 Michigan State I think, gets the nod out of whichever school comes out of the Big Ten West as the school that comes out of there would have either three or four losses. Add in the fact that MSU travels well and has a Heisman contender on the team, and I think the Peach Bowl or Fiesta Bowl will see the Spartans as a desirable candidate. Now, the Rose Bowl isn’t a total write-off, but it’s clear the College Football Playoff committee and networks are going to try to get Michigan there with their odd rankings. Let’s say Michigan State loses a close one to Ohio State this weekend and beats Penn State handedly in the season finale, and Michigan gets railed against OSU — that’s the only path I can see for MSU heading back to Pasadena.
AS ALWAYS, LET’S CELEBRATE AND GO GREEEEEEEEN.