Michigan State Spartans (M.S.U.) (2-1) lose to Notre Dame Fighting Irish (N.D.) (3-0). Score: N.D. 20 – M.S.U. 3
Notre Dame is reconsidering their future schedules now that they’ve joined the Atlantic Coast Conference. After tonight’s game, the Irish will schedule as many Big Ten teams as possible. While the Irish were pounding Michigan State by a final score of 20-3 right in front of the Spartans home crowd, Wisconsin the two time defending Big Ten Champions were fending off the Utah State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium no less! (final score 16-14 Badgers). This isn’t your father’s Big Ten Conference, well other than the slow and anemic offenses which are still around.
Speaking of slow and anemic, let’s start with the Spartans offense shall we?! Never got into the red zone once! The game plan was obvious to both teams; give the ball to Le’Veon Bell. Once the Irish slowed down Bell with six and seven man fronts, the Spartans should have been able to capitalize with one on one matchup with their wide outs. Didn’t happen. I’m no offensive coordinator, but wouldn’t a three and four wide out set once in a while be a good idea? Or how about throwing the ball downfield a few times to loosen up the defense. Even against a young and inexperienced secondary that lost one of its best players during the game, the Spartans passing attack couldn’t make any significant plays downfield, save one tremendous catch by Keith Mumphrey for 22 yards.
The offensive line was missing starting left guard, Jack Allen and right tackle Fou Fonoti and it showed. Spartans QB Andrew Maxwell rarely had time to throw, even when there was only a three man front! Bell didn’t have clear lanes to run through. I’d lie 50% of this lose on the offensive line and the other 50% goes to Maxwell and his receivers. So where does this team go from here? Thank goodness at home against lowly Easter Michigan University. Unfortunately for Maxwell and company the Eagles have a fairly good defense under former University of Michigan defensive coordinator and now head coach, Ron English.
A missed field goal, an interception threw the hands, a touchdown that could have been caught, these were the moments Spartans players did not seize. If this team is going to repeat the 8-1 stretch they had after their defeat to Notre Dame last year they are going to have to improve a ton on offense. Frankly I don’t see it happening. Maxwell’s missed time during spring practice is starting to show up on the field. There is absolutely no rhythm or continuity or heck even a beat sometimes to this offense! I predicted a trip to the Rose Bowl for the 2012 Spartans mainly on the fact that their defense could hold down opponents just enough for their offense to muster a touchdown and a few field goals. Apparently they can’t even do that. As bad as the Big Ten is this year, I can still see M.S.U. losing at least three more games (Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan). Think about this, other than against lowly Central Michigan, the offensive has scored as many touchdowns as they have given up via “pick 6’s”.
Coach Dantonio said after tonight’s game that “this lose starts with me”. I give Coach D credit for taking the blame first. In his five years at M.S.U. he’s done a marvelous job of getting his teams to rebound from tough loses. Even with that in mind, I’m not sure even his mental toughness is enough to overcome an offense stuck in reverse.
About the Author
Written by Andre' Wiegand
A life long Michigan State University Spartan fan! My grandfather played on the Spartan O-Line back in 1951 and my family has been Spartan fans since. 1999 M.S.U. graduate (JMC). Currently live in Grand Rapids, MI with my wife and two sons.