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What a difference a week makes. Just days after Michigan State fans near unanimously felt the team would reach bowl eligibility by beating Indiana, they now feel this upcoming matchup against Penn State is almost certainly the last game of the year for MSU.
When Michigan State blew a 17-point lead against the Hoosiers, most fans also believe the team let any chance of making a bowl go with it. While there is still a technical a remote possibility of reaching a postseason game with only five wins, the season most likely comes down to beating No. 11 Penn State in Happy Valley. To put it bluntly, fans don’t think it will end well.
According to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, over 90 percent of Michigan State fans expect the Spartans to lose on Saturday.
Penn State is a good team at 9-2, but at this point, that number likely has more to do with a lack of belief in the Spartans than it does anything to do with the Nittany Lions. After a season that has seen every big game turn into embarrassment, MSU somehow found a way to keep the season alive heading into senior day against Indiana — a team that had been sitting squarely at the bottom of the Big Ten East after losing seven games in a row.
Through most of the game, things seemed to be going as expected. While never looking pretty, Michigan State managed to build up a three-score lead heading into halftime and kept the distance after trading scores to start the third quarter. That’s when things fell apart.
In the timespan of just under 22 minutes of game play, Indiana went on a 17-0 run. Then the Hoosiers finished things off in a second overtime period when the Spartans failed to match the Hoosiers’ touchdown.
The collapse was all-encompassing. Michigan State was outplayed on offense, defense and special teams while being out-coached as well. Because of those failures to IU in particular, it ranks as the worst loss of the season, according to MSU fans.
A loss like that sticks with a program. It’s not one that can be forgotten about after the next game, or feel like a distant memory when the team re-takes the field next fall. While the roster may look different next year, one important group isn’t guaranteed to change at all — the coaching staff.
Just a year removed from taking over East Lansing like no coach since Tom Izzo had, Mel Tucker is looking a lot less polished. Tucker’s team and coaching staff have seen a list of embarrassments this season, but the Indiana game is likely the most glaring (at least for the on-field actions).
The Indiana loss isn’t going to be glossed over by Michigan State fans. More than three-quarters of responding fans said the collapse against the Hoosiers was an indictment against Tucker and his coaching staff.
While the football season is predicted by fans to come to an end after Saturday’s game, the chance to voice opinions will go on. Keep an eye out for next week’s Reacts survey and vote to have your voice heard.