For the first time since 2015, the Michigan State Spartans are 3-0, and for the first time since 2019, MSU is ranked. Mel Tucker’s team walked into Miami, executed, and came out with a 38-17 victory over the No. 24-ranked Hurricanes. It wasn’t pretty through the entire game, but a big final 15 minutes pushed the Spartans to a victory. Let’s dive into some of the takeaways from Saturday.
The Michigan State offense is the real deal
The biggest surprise this year has been how explosiveness the Spartans have been on offense. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Payton Thorne has shown excellent leadership and athleticism through the first three games, and junior running back Kenneth Walker III has been fantastic for the Spartans, leading the country in rushing yards with 493. The explosiveness had been missing from the Spartan offense during the last few seasons and will contribute greatly to any success MSU has this season.
The Spartans didn’t start off very pretty on Saturday afternoon, but once they found their groove, there was no looking back. On the other side of the ball, some outstanding defensive play contributed to a fourth quarter surge for Michigan State, as the Spartans limited Miami’s offense and the offense poured on 21 straight points to stretch MSU’s lead and end the game. The Spartans didn’t turn the ball over Saturday, either, and if they keep that level of efficiency up, there’s no reason that MSU can’t contend with any of the opponents remaining on the schedule.
Is the defense starting to figure it out?
This takeaway wasn’t one I’d have after the first half on Saturday, as the Spartans gave up a lot of chunk plays through the air to open wide receivers, but the defense, overall, played very well against Miami. The first half wasn’t amazing, but the second half adjustments were outstanding, and only giving up 17 points to a D’Eriq King-led offense is nothing to scoff at. The last few minutes of the game were just dominated by the defense. The fumble forced by Drew Beesley and recovered by Jacub Panasiuk, and the interception by Ronald Williams, both led to late-game touchdowns by the offense and were reminiscent of the defenses of old. While Michigan State appeared to play another “bend don’t break” type of defense, and it certainly wasn’t perfect, the overall performance could be a good sign for a Spartan team looking to get back to its dominant defensive ways.
The defense has been improving each week, which is a great sign. With Nebraska on the clock for this coming week, and with a chance to go 2-0 in Big Ten play, look for the defense to pick up where it left off against the Cornhuskers.
The Spartans are here to play and will compete with anybody
Mel Tucker and the Spartans sent a message to the college football world on Saturday. This team isn’t going to be a bottom feeder in the Big Ten East like some people thought this offseason. Tucker and his staff have positioned the Spartans to do some damage this season. There are still things to work on, but Saturday’s win against a solid, albeit underperforming, Miami team on the road was the first real test for Michigan State this year, and the Spartans were clearly up for it.
Moving forward, each game is going to be important for the Spartans. It seems this might be a down year for Ohio State, which opens the door for someone else to come in and win the East. With that said, Ohio State is still the team to beat, and the Penn State Nittany Lions are looking tough as well. If Michigan State wants to contend, then more performances like we saw Saturday are going to need to come each and every week. Don’t be surprised if the Spartans continue to make some noise this season, but with the heart of the Big Ten schedule coming up, MSU will need to continue to improve as the season moves forward.
Michigan State is back home this week, hosting Nebraska at Spartan Stadium at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time on FS1.