Dark Days Ahead for Michigan State

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Published on : November 1, 2016

 

 

Don’t let the final score fool you. The game may have been a bit closer than many people, including the oddsmakers in Vegas, had thought it would be. But for most of last Saturday’s matchup between Michigan and Michigan State, the Wolverines were in control. And now they are back in the top spot in the state when it comes to college football, leaving a somewhat uncertain path ahead for the program in East Lansing.

 

With the Wolverines back on top in the Big 10, you can’t help but wonder if the Spartans will be headed back to the hated role of “little brother.” It doesn’t look good for them, as Michigan and Ohio State are clearly the class of the conference, with Wisconsin, Nebraska and Penn State also trending upward. U of M is a once again a powerhouse program with as much visibility as any school in the country. For the traditionally less successful school in the state, how do you compete?

 

 “Make it stop.”

 

The addition of Air Jordan to the brand of Michigan is going to make recruiting, both in-state and out of state, even more difficult for Sparty. It was already an uphill battle competing for recruits with Michigan, even when they weren’t very good. But with the way Michigan is winning games this season, and the very legitimate chance of them heading to the college football playoff, things may get even worse. As if the allure and mystique of Michigan needed a boost.

 

There’s also the brutal fact that MSU shares a division with not only the Wolverines, but also the Buckeyes. There’s a good chance that those two will alternate the top spot, not only in their division or conference, but in all of college football for years to come. Mark Dantonio has always gotten by with his good coaching and he will keep them competitive at times. But his style is going to have a hard time producing positive results against teams like UM and OSU on a consistent basis. The ground and pound game that MSU has found success with is just going to have trouble keeping up with other teams that have quality QBs and tough defenses. And that’s exactly what they face with their two biggest foes.

 

 Is frustration the new normal?

 

Though some former Spartans QBs have had success at the NFL level, no one would ever accuse the school of having a prolific air attack. And that has to be a large part of your game in order to be in the postseason consistently. There will certainly be some seasons when MSU is top-tier but another decade long hot streak seems unlikely. Now that the big dog in the mitten is back on its feet, it will be harder to stay on top of them for such long periods.

 

The Spartans may have a difficult time recovering from the disaster that is the 2016 season. The old order is being restored and that is going to mean a lot of broken hearts in East Lansing. With the establishment of Jim Harbaugh as heir apparent to the college football throne, the sun may be setting on this bright and prosperous period at MSU.

 

More and more, there will be seasons when the Spartans are looking up at the their most hated rivals. It’s inevitable. The sky is darkening and there’s a storm rolling into the state of Michigan. It is centered in Ann Arbor and might spell doom for the Michigan State Spartans. This year is surely lost, but there might be more like it and for us Wolverines fans, it doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

 

 


How the mighty have fallen: The sad story of the 2016 Michigan State Spartans

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Published on : October 17, 2016

 

What is happening in East Lansing? The Michigan State Spartans, a powerhouse in the Big Ten and contender for the national championship in recent years, are in shambles. The team sits on the cusp of missing a bowl game, less than one year after winning a Big Ten title with a 12-2 record and an appearance in the college football playoff. How the mighty have fallen. After owning the State of Michigan for the better part of the 21st century they are back at the bottom, looking up at their “big brother” the University of Michigan.

 

The Michigan State Spartans were handed their fourth straight defeat on Saturday, at the hands of the Northwestern Wildcats. Three of those four losses have been at home and it’s clear that the wheels have completely fallen off for Mark Dantonio and his once dominant football team. The Spartans lost 54-40 this past weekend. I’ll let that sink in. 54 points allowed to Northwestern. At home. The team trotted out a new quarterback, redshirt freshmen, Brian Lewerke. No luck. They brought back in much-maligned fifth-year senior, Tyler O’Connor, in the third quarter and he brought the team to within two points after completing two long touchdown passes. Then the Spartans allowed a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown. The cries of agony could be heard clear across the state in Ann Arbor.

 

 Spartans fans everywhere will need to lean on each other the rest of this season.

 

With the coaching that this team has and the holdovers from last year’s playoff squad, it’s hard to imagine that they could possibly be this bad. But they are. Mark Dantonio needs to take a long look at this roster and start giving his next generation of players more time on the field to gain experience for next season. Because 2016 is over. The Spartans are looking at 6 wins if they are lucky and with the sub-par opponents they’ve lost to, their chances of making a bowl are not great. The time to use the rest of this season as a springboard into the 2017 season has come.

 

As a Michigan fan who has had to sit by as this program pummeled my beloved Wolverines for the better part of the last decade, I wish I could take joy in this. And to be honest, for the first couple losses of the Spartans’ losing streak I was pretty happy. Now it’s just getting ugly and they are making the whole conference look bad. I never had a doubt that my Wolverines would win against MSU this year but what fun is it when one of your most hated rivals isn’t even good? The Wolverines could probably go out and win by 60-points on October 29 in East Lansing, but against an obviously inferior opponent, what’s the point? As a fan I would much rather my team go out and throttle a worthy opponent. Not whatever the Spartans are putting on the field these days.

 

 Coach is not amused.

 

I feel your pain, Sparty. The Wolverines have had a few bad years recently. We know what you’re going through, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Much worse actually, because in two weeks the Michigan Wolverines head your way. With how these two teams are trending in opposite directions, it’s not going to be pretty. So crack open another beer and think back to the good times. Because they might not come back again for quite a while.

 

 


Two Teams, One Mitten

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Published on : January 3, 2016

 

 

What a difference a couple of days can make. Michigan and Michigan State were both feeling pretty good about themselves heading into their bowl matchups on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but the Spartans were riding a much bigger wave of confidence than the Wolverines. They were coming off of their second Big Ten Championship Game victory over Iowa and were playing for a chance to go to the National Title Game. The Wolverines, however, last played against Ohio State, and let’s just say that didn’t go exactly as planned. That’s putting lightly. The Maize and Blue got their asses kicked to the tune of 42-13.

 

It was a complete embarrassment. An embarrassment that capped off a season where the Wolverines vastly overachieved compared to what people thought they would do, but an embarrassment none the less. That game was U of M’s chance to play into the conference championship game (they needed some help from other teams too), and they totally shit the bed. Instead, hated in-state rival MSU got a trip Lucas Oil Field, where they beat Iowa for a chance to head to the second ever College Football Playoff. They were matched up against Alabama, and many people, including myself, actually gave them a fighter’s chance in the game. Man, did they fuck that up.

 

 Trevon Pendleton echoes the sentiment of Spartans fans everywhere after the Cotton Bowl.

 

The Spartans made a game of it for a quarter or so, and then it all fell apart. Alabama started slowly adding on points before their defense came alive and smothered the team known in some parts of Michigan as “Little Brother.” The Spartans went on to lose the game 38-0. That’s right, they didn’t score a single point. The Wolverines at least put up a couple of touchdowns in their 41-14 ass-kicking at the hands of the Crimson Tide, back in 2012. But I wouldn’t call the loss, as bad as it is, a setback for the program. Rather this game was a huge step in the right direction for the football team in East Lansing. It was the final sign that Mark Dantonio has brought this team to the upper echelon of College Football teams, but that won’t stop us Michigan fans from talking some serious shit until we play next fall. So let me just say, you guys sucked bad. Like real bad. So take that!

 

Now let’s talk about something I love even more than Michigan State losing, and that’s Michigan winning. And man, did they win big. 41-7 over the Florida Gators to be exact, and the outcome was never really in doubt. The Wolverines controlled every facet of the game and looked like a confident powerhouse of a program, much like they did before they choked away a win over MSU in the final seconds and then got pummeled by the Buckeyes.

 

 The Wolverines celebrate their big win over the Gators.

 

The Citrus Bowl win was the final stamp on Jim Harbaugh’s stellar first year coaching his alma mater. He has turned the program completely around in his first year and is boasting a top 5 recruiting class coming into the 2016 season. “Big Brother” is back, and that’s something that should make Spartans fans nervous. I mean, is The Mitten big enough to support two powerhouse college football programs?

 

Only time will tell if the two teams can coexist at the top of the game, but one has to feel like Michigan State benefited from the chaos that characterized the program in Ann Arbor for the past half of a decade. Now that the khaki-clad savior has resurrected the winningest football team ever from the ashes of the Rodriguez/Hoke era, things could start to shift back to the old paradigm. The one where Michigan is the top dog and Michigan State is constantly trying to catch them. And that’s just fine with me.

 

I’m not saying that Michigan and Michigan State are trending in opposite directions. I think that both of these programs are headed in the right direction, but Michigan is definitely back, and that could spell trouble for Michigan State, sooner rather than later.

 

 


A Tale of Two Seasons: Why Iowa Can Beat Michigan State on Saturday

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Published on : December 2, 2015

 

 

I don’t know what’s more improbable – that Michigan State beat Michigan with 10 seconds left on the clock in Ann Arbor back on October 17th or that Iowa is even in this conversation to begin with. But here we are. The 12-0 Iowa Hawkeyes play the 11-1 Michigan State Spartans on Saturday for the Big Ten Championship and a (more-than-probable) spot in the College Football Playoffs on New Year’s Eve. The hype, or lack thereof, surrounding both teams as the season began could not be more different. And the end results could not be more similar. But I’m going to tell you why Iowa can win the game. Let’s start at the beginning.

 

When Iowa started the season, it was an ugly time for Hawkeyes football. They were destroyed by Tennessee on January 2nd in the TaxSlayer Bowl and then, frustrated fans who were desperate for change, responded by giving Iowa the smallest crowd they’d had in years at the home opener against Illinois State. They even cheered a failed fake field goal attempt because at least coach Kirk Ferentz was trying something. On the other hand, Michigan State was the preseason #5 in the nation and an early 31-28 marquee win against #7 Oregon in Week 2 already had sportswriters and analysts talking about the Playoffs and the national title hopes for the Spartans. They were supposed to cruise until they faced Michigan in October. Then they’d have this ultimate showdown with Ohio State in late November for the Big Ten East title. Never mind that Connor Cook hadn’t really played well yet. Never mind that this wasn’t the same Oregon team that Heisman-winner Marcus Mariota led to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game back in January. Everyone had already decided that Iowa was an afterthought in the West and Michigan State was the real deal in the East. That’s how we started.

 

Head Coach Kirk Ferentz and a lot of empty seats for the home opener.

 

It wasn’t until a 62-16 blowout of North Texas on September 26th that anyone began to notice Iowa at all. They’d found a solid running back in Jordan Canzeri, who tied a school record with four touchdowns in the game. Quarterback C.J. Beathard had also looked solid all season to that point. And Desmond King looked like a real play maker on defense and special teams. On the other hand, #2 MSU looked pretty bad in its win against Central Michigan. The game exposed their lack of a run game, Cook was still inconsistent at quarterback and injuries were mounting for the team. Just in time for October and Big Ten play.

 

By mid October, Michigan State was 6-0, but had two more ugly wins against Purdue and Rutgers. Sure, they were dealing with injuries. And their mantra was that since they were ranked so highly everybody was gunning for them, but they’d been completely underwhelming since the Oregon win and it was clear that this team was not as good as last season’s. Analysts argued that it would be a cause for concern against Michigan the following week. On the other hand, with wins against Wisconsin and Illinois, Iowa was on the brink of controlling the Big Ten West. They received their first ranking (#22) of the season and Jordan Canzeri managed 256 yards (the 3rd most in Iowa history) against Illinois, which continued his season-long praise. The “surprisingly resurgent” Hawkeyes were now bowl eligible and a win over Northwestern could put them in the driver’s seat.

 

Illinois couldn’t touch Jordan Canzeri.

 

The aforementioned INSANE and unforgettable ending of the Michigan State-Michigan game and the Twitter explosion that followed put the national college football spotlight back on Michigan State. Even though they’d only won this game and the previous two by a combined 14 points. Everyone forgot about their games against Central Michigan and Purdue and Rutgers. Now all that mattered was the Oregon win in September and the (literally) show-stopping finish against Big Brother. It’s even possible that nobody managed to notice Iowa lost Canzeri to injury, but still managed to get four rushing touchdowns out of his replacement, Akrum Wadley, in their dominant win against #20 Northwestern to become the clear favorites in the West. Really, nobody cared, nationally. The MSU finish truly was one of the craziest endings in NCAA football history. Everyone outside of Ann Arbor loved it. And without a convincing win in October and without a running game, the Spartans were back in the Playoff talks and Connor Cook was once again a sleeper choice for the Heisman.

 

As we entered November, both teams were undefeated with costly injuries and ugly wins. Iowa’s defense and forced turnovers kept them in the games and moved them into the top 10 for the first time. Their win over Indiana on November 7th had analysts talking about a clear path to the Big Ten West title, controlling their own destiny and, for the first time, actual Playoff talk. That was all with Jordan Canzeri still hurt and C.J. Beathard’s mobility slowed down with a groin injury. Not that it stopped him from diving over a pile of Indiana defenders to score a touchdown. But obviously the CFP committee wasn’t aware of any of that because they cited a lack of “offensive explosiveness” in their decision to place Iowa at #9 in the first CFP rankings. The very same day that Playoffs talk began with the Hawkeyes, the Spartans’ Playoff hopes took a huge hit with their ‘controversial’ loss at Nebraska. What everyone was ready to deem a magical season for MSU had actually and secretly been anything but. Nobody had noticed they barely beat Purdue and Rutgers. And that their win against Indiana wasn’t impressive. And then there was the miracle against Michigan. But it’s possible that playing the underdog is exactly where Michigan State needed to be in the long run.

 

Michigan State Kicker, Michael Geiger celebrates the last second, game-clinching field goal against OSU.

 

Without Connor Cook, Michigan State upset #3 Ohio State with a last-second kick by Michael Geiger, whose windmill celebration was actually kind of awesome. And the Buckeyes seemingly imploded after the game. Ezekiel Elliott and Cardale Jones said they were leaving the team after the season. Analysts called OSU the most overrated team in the country, saying they hadn’t been challenged all season long, hadn’t played a ranked opponent and that it took everyone until late November to realize the reigning national champions weren’t really that good. But the fact was that now the Spartans were in total control of the Big Ten East and right back in the Playoff hunt. And once again, everyone forgot about all their squeaker wins and their loss to Nebraska.

 

In the meantime, Iowa had already clinched the Big Ten West with a victory over Purdue. They’d never been 10-0 before in school history. Now they were 11-0. They’d scored over 30 points in 5 straight Big Ten games, which they’d also never done before. They’d already tied records from 2002 and 2009 for most wins in a season. And Beathard, who now looked healthy, was 12-0 as a starter for Iowa, which is something only Cam Newton, Darron Thomas and Jameis Winston had done in a Power 5 Conference since 2010. Oh, and also Jordan Canzeri was back.

 

Smith #4 and Beathard #6 celebrate the Purdue win and an 11-0 record.

 

On the final weekend of the regular season, Iowa clinched its undefeated regular season with a cold and ugly 28-20 win at Nebraska. Which was the team that, if I recall correctly, beat Michigan State on the same turf three weeks prior. It probably won’t convince any of the critics who totally do not want Iowa (the only other undefeated team besides #1 Clemson) to be in the Playoff picture. But it’s Iowa’s first perfect regular season in 93 years and their first team ever to win 12 games in a season at all. The next day, Michigan State blew out Penn State to clinch the Big Ten East in their best win of the season. And now the two teams are finally set to play each other in the championship and the virtual play-in for the Playoff.
Michigan State has loved playing underdog all season. They did it against Michigan. They did it against Ohio State. But they won’t be doing it against Iowa, where they are pretty heavy favorites. In fact, Paul Finebaum of ESPN gave the Hawkeyes “zero chance” to win the game. And Michigan State already thinks they can win it all, alluding to how Ohio State shocked everyone in the Playoffs last year. Sure, they’re “playing their best football” and “hitting their stride at the right time” and Connor Cook is back from injury. And so is their O line. But 12-0 Iowa is not 7-4 Penn State.

 

I know Iowa isn’t flashy. But they’ve won games on both sides of the ball. They’ve never trailed in the 4th quarter all season. They’re 4th in the country in turnover margin, meaning they don’t make many mistakes. And they tend to capitalize when the other teams do. And in games against mutual opponents (Maryland, Indiana, Purdue and Nebraska), Iowa scored as many points as Michigan State, while giving up fewer on defense. Plus they fucking beat Nebraska. “Football’s not gynmastics,” as Ferentz said last week and both teams know well. Iowa and Michigan State both have ugly wins. And neither team was supposed to be here in the first place. But while Sparty has thrived on being underdogs, it’s been Iowa that’s had to constantly prove people wrong. Starting with their own fans. And I’d like to see them prove people wrong again on Saturday.

 

Seriously, Iowa can win this.

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 6

Written by :
Published on : October 25, 2015

 

 

 

A little late with my Champ and Chump picks this week but even with the few extra days, there was nothing that could save the Wolverines from finding a less than desirable spot on the charts over here. Spoiler alert, not that you needed it, Michigan finds itself on the wrong side of the Champ and Chump board this week and boy was it ever something special. See what other special performances happened this past week below, and take a scroll through my Champs and Chumps of the week.

 

Champ: Daniel Murphy

Murphy has been a home run machine this post-season.

 

What a post-season for Daniel Murphy thus far. As the New York Mets enter the World Series, they do it with the hottest hitter on the planet right now. In a series sweep of the Chicago Cubs, Murphy hit .529 and has homered in 6 straight post-season games, a Major League record. The Mets are heading to the Fall Classic for the first time since 2000 where they lost to their cross town rival, the New York Yankees. This time they’ll take on the Kansas City Royals, who lost the World Series last year in a 7-game thriller against the San Francisco Giants.

 

 

 

Honorable Mention: 

Landry Jones- The third string quarterback came in for the injured Mike Vick and went 8-12 for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns in a win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Cristiano Ronaldo- Became Real Madrid’s all-time leading goal scorer (324 goals) passing Raul who played in 741 games with Madrid from 1994-2010. Ronaldo accomplished the feat in just 310 games with the team.

Christian McCaffrey- The son of former Denver Bronco’s wide receiver Ed McCaffrey had a school record 243 yards on the ground and 4 touchdowns, helping Stanford beat the UCLA Bruins last week. McCaffrey, who also returns kicks, finished with 369 all purpose yards.

 

 

Chump: Tie: Jim Harbaugh and Blake O’Neill

Harbaugh and O’Neill dropped the ball in a big way.

 

On what will likely be the play of the year, Michigan State defensive back Jalen Watts-Jackson took a fumbled punt attempt 38 yards to the house as time expired to give the Spartans a win over archrival Michigan. We’ve all seen the play, (as a Spartan fan I can’t watch it enough) with Michigan up 23-21, the Wolverines faced 4th and short with just 10 seconds left. On the other side of the ball, Michigan State figured they had one shot at a miracle and that was to go all out for a block. The snap came in (a bit low) and Michigan punter Blake O’Neill did the unthinkable and dropped the snap. In a panic, O’Neill picked up the ball, turned and tried to get off a kick while getting swarmed by white jerseys. The ball was fumbled up into the air and came right down into Watts-Jackson’s arms. Shocked, speechless, in disbelief, Michigan fans could hardly move. Once they could, and they realized what happened, naturally, the thought was how the hell could you fumble that snap?! Why didn’t you just fall on it?! Both good points, and while O’Neill no doubt is quite the goat for this incredible finish, I think equal blame should fall on the shoulders of their coach. Jim Harbaugh called two timeouts on that drive allowing the clock to dwindle down as much as possible on 2nd and 3rd down before ultimately deciding to punt. I have no problem with the decision to punt, however, how do you not prepare your team to setup in max protect, knowing the Spartans are bringing everyone to block this kick. Again, no Spartans were back to field the kick, yet Michigan sent four gunners down to cover the return? While O’Neill fumbled the ball, I think the Spartans may have got in there to get the block even if O’Neill caught it clean. Four guys had a free release, Harbaugh and company enjoyed their spot as my Champ of the week last week, a complete 180 here as they are big, big Chumps this week.

 

 

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Colts 4th down “fake punt”- Every once in a while a team calls a play or a player does something that leaves you speechless. The Indianapolis Colts provided us with one of these moments last weekend in a highly anticipated game vs the New England Patriots. Down 6 in the 3rd quarter, the Colts faced a 4th and 3, they shifted 9 guys down towards the sideline leaving a wide receiver and safety to act as the quarterback and snapper. Hut, hut, hike…and then 3 unblocked New England Patriots tackled the Colt “QB” for a loss.

David Price- This may be a bit harsh, but for an ace entering free agency one can’t ignore the struggles that Price can’t seem to shake in the post-season. With a career 0-7 post-season record as a starter, and an overall post-season ERA of 5.24, Price was given the ball again for Game 7 in the ALCS vs Kansas City and didn’t pitch well enough, getting a no decision.

 

 

 

 


For Michigan State, it’s College Football Playoff or Bust

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Published on : September 19, 2015

 

The college football world took a much anticipated trip to the great state of Michigan last weekend. ESPN decided to broadcast SportsCenter live from Ann Arbor for Jim Harbaugh’s home coaching debut at his alma mater. Since Harbaugh took the job this past winter, much of the attention in college football has been focused towards Michigan as they try to revitalize one of the most glorified programs in the history of college football. While most believe Harbaugh is the perfect coach to get the job done in Ann Arbor, Michigan no longer has the fortune of only having to look South to find their big competition. There is a potential bigger threat some 60 miles Northwest—yes the once thought “Little Brother” has grown up in East Lansing, and he goes by the name Sparty.

 

Sparty himself.

 

Following the SportsCenter broadcast last Saturday, ESPN’s College Gameday kicked off its show live from East Lansing, as Michigan State vs Oregon was the featured game of the week. Part two in a scheduled home-and-home series between these two teams was again expected to have College Football Playoff implications and both teams are expected to compete for a championship in their respective conferences. Last year in Eugene, Michigan State surprised many by hanging with, and in fact leading, Oregon through three quarters of the game. That was before eventual Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariota and the high powered Duck offense began to dominate a tired Michigan State defense on their way to a 19-point victory.

 

Oregon would go on to lose in the NCAA Championship game vs Ohio State, while Michigan State would end their season with a Cotton Bowl victory over Baylor in one of the greatest games of the 2014 season. Heading into the 2014 season, Spartans coach, Mark Dantonio, certainly had his eyes on the inaugural playoff, and while there was no doubt some disappointment when they didn’t make it, it was far from a failed season. Especially when you consider that the only two losses the Spartans had were against the two teams competing for the National Championship.

 

The team celebrates the Cotton Bowl victory over Baylor to close out last season.

 

The bar has been raised in East Lansing significantly. Under Dantonio, Michigan State has won eleven or more games in four of the past five years. They have dominated the in-state rivalry against Michigan, winning six of the last seven. They’ve also appeared in two conference championship games (winning one), and have turned what used to be known as a “basketball school” into a strong, well-rounded athletic program.

 

Heading into this season, Michigan State came in ranked 5th in the nation, and again have their eyes on the playoff and some higher expectations, but first focused on some familiar faces that stand in their way. Having both Oregon and Ohio State on the schedule again, Michigan State knew a win against at least one of those opponents would be necessary if their dreams would eventually come to fruition. On Saturday, the Spartans helped their playoff chances by beating the Ducks and bumping themselves up one spot, to #4 in the polls. I think if Michigan State were to have finished the season 11-1 last season, they would have made the College Football Playoff, and that if they finish with that record this year, they will make the playoff.

 

They’ve already beaten the Ducks, but there’s work to be done yet.

 

Outside of Ohio State, there doesn’t seem to be any clear-cut favorite or obvious choices to win any of the Power 5 conferences like in past years. For that reason, I don’t expect many teams to finish undefeated, if any. In recent years, Alabama, Florida State, and Oregon all seemed like shoe-ins for their conference. This year, all three may not even get to their conference championship games because there seems to be a lot more parity, and I think it’s a good thing. I think Ohio State goes undefeated, and potentially a team like TCU or Baylor could as well, (they play each other at the end of November) but that could be it.

 

Ohio State is the only remaining ranked team the Spartans have to play as of right now. The Spartans do still have a couple potential trap games in Ann Arbor and at Nebraska but Michigan State should be undefeated (10-0) heading into Columbus on November 21st. Provided Michigan State can keep that game reasonably close, say within a couple of touchdowns, the “little brother” from East Lansing could be punching a ticket to the Playoff for the first time. With Oregon already out of the way, I think Michigan State needs to be playing in college football’s Final Four on New Year’s Day.

 

The prize that the Spartans have their eyes on.

 

The past few years, Dantonio and company haven’t gotten the attention and respect they probably deserve up in East Lansing. Often taking the backseat to Ohio State and hated rival Michigan, the Spartans always seem to fly a little bit under the radar but Dantonio pushes on, getting them closer to the pinnacle, slightly raising the bar each year while ensuring that the brand is strong. Conference champions, they’ve been there and done that. A Rose Bowl victory, been there too. New Year’s Six? Yup, did that last year. There’s one big step left, and the Spartans control their own destiny the rest of the way. It’s a funny thing about expectations, when you have them, it means your team is pretty good, but when you exceed them, it means you’ve done something great. The College Football Playoff, it’s all Michigan State has left, everything else Spartan fans have already seen.

 

 

 


Champ and Chump of the Weekend

Written by :
Published on : September 16, 2015

 

Fans rejoiced this past weekend as the NFL kicked off its 2015 season. Add in a couple big college football tilts and the U.S. Open in New York, and it made for one jam packed weekend in sports. Week 1 in the NFL had some great story lines and some memorable moments. With that in mind, here’s my Champ and Chump of the weekend.

 

Champ: Marcus Mariota

13-16, 209 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 turnovers. 95.7 QBR, 158.3 Passer Rating in a 42-14 victory over Tampa Bay

All he does is win.

 

In a much anticipated match up featuring the top two quarterbacks taken in the 2015 NFL draft, and the last two Heisman trophy winners, Marcus Mariota looked a lot more NFL ready than Jameis Winston, who threw a pick-six with his first throw. Many doubted Mariota coming into this season, fearing his style wouldn’t translate to the NFL, a trend that has been true with former Oregon quarterbacks in the past. Through one week, Mariota has silenced his critics for now, and the Jameis supporters have to hope that Winston’s career takes off much like the career of a former legend who also started his NFL career with a pick-six—Brett Favre.

 

Honorable Mention:

Michigan State football- Huge win over #7 Oregon avenging last year’s loss in Eugene

Novak Djokovic- Defeated Roger Federer for the US Open Championship, his 10th career major win

Zack Greinke- Pitched 8 scoreless innings vs Arizona to improve to 17-3 on the season, 1.61 ERA, 0.85 WHIP…truly remarkable season, could go down as one of the best seasons ever.

 

 

Chump: New York Giants

Rashad Jennings summing up how the Giants ended the game.

 

On a play that may be scrutinized as much as the Seattle Seahawks bonehead decision to throw the ball at the 1-yard line in last year’s Super Bowl, Eli Manning left many fans scratching their heads yesterday. The New York Giants were just about to shock the defending division champion Dallas Cowboys Sunday night when Eli Manning and company did the seemingly unthinkable. Up 23-20, the Giants had a 3rd and goal at the Cowboy’s 1-yard line with just over 90 seconds left. Out of timeouts, Dallas had no way of stopping the clock. The Giants had them on their heels, all they had to do was punch it in. Hell, they had two chances if they wanted.  Worst case scenario, they come up short on 3rd down and kick the field goal to go up 6 and leave Dallas with under a minute and no timeouts to drive for a touchdown. Another scenario, on a potential fourth down, if the Giants came up short, Dallas would have to go some 99 yards without any timeouts for a touchdown, or some 60 yards for a field goal try with like 45 seconds left. Instead, on 3rd and 1, Eli dropped back to throw, and threw the ball away avoiding the pressure, but ultimately also avoiding the 40 second runoff that may have helped win New York the game. To make matters worse, it has been reported Eli told running back Rashad Jennings to intentionally not score with the hopes of draining the clock. Well, the G-Men may not have won the game but they did win the award for chump of the week.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Adam “Pac Man” Jones- Flagged and fined for slamming Oakland Raider Amari Cooper’s head into his helmet

Florida football coach Jim McElwain- Childish tirade on the sidelines while berating a player

Detroit Lions/Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi- After leading 21-3 at San Diego, the Lions

gave up 30 unanswered points and lost 33-28. Calvin Johnson targeted just 4 times (2 catches)

 


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