Saturday afternoon in sunny Madison, WI the Spartans pulled out a thrilling 16-13 victory in overtime and defeated last year’s Big Ten Champion Wisconsin Badgers. The victory kept MSU’s bowl hopes alive moving them to 5-4 on the year and was certainly the high mark in a season of disappointments. After losing three close Big Ten contests to OSU, Iowa and Michigan the Spartans finally won a nail biter of their own. It’s no surprise that the only close contest they finally won was the one that the offense finally delivered.
Just when Spartan nation was ready to throw in the towel on Andrew Maxwell and offensive coordinator Dan Roushar, the Spartans came up with two touchdown drives in a row! Mark that on your calendar, because that hasn’t happened all season and it may not happen again. If that sounds a little pessimistic to you, well it is. While we finally saw execution from the offense today, it’s another thing entirely to believe this offense has finally arrived.
Before those two touchdown drives, and it’s a stretch to call the final one a “drive” as it started on the Badger 25 yard line, the Spartan offense amassed a total of three points. It was so bad in fact that it completely botched a golden opportunity in the first half. A bad snap to UW punter Drew Meyer resulted in a blocked punt with MSU’s Marcus Rush recovering at the UW 11 yard line. What did the offense do with this gift?; went back 23 yards on three plays and two penalties and wound up punting the ball!
The offense finally started moving when three things happened, one UW played the old prevent you from winning defense and thus gave Maxwell time to throw the ball. Two and this is to Maxwell and his tall receiver’s credit; he started making completions between the linebackers and the secondary in the middle of the field, the tweener pass as it’s called. And three, offensive coordinator Dan Roushar finally trusted Maxwell enough to throw the ball around a little bit. Please Roushar for the love of God take off the training wheels already! Whether Maxwell can consistently make the tough “tweener” passes, especially when under pressure, remains to be seen. For today however, the offense started to exhibit signs that it is finally ready to join the defense and play to win games not just lose them close.
Speaking of the defense, it played it’s best game all year today. It held the UW ground game to it’s lowest total since 2007. The front four finally lived up to it’s hype and sacked UW QB’s O’Brien and Stave numerous times. Will Gholston put such a hard hit on starting QB Stave that he knocked him out of the game. In sum, the Spartan D limited UW to only 190 yards of total offense, which is its lowest total since a 30-7 road lose to Iowa on November 20, 2004.
This was a huge win for Sparty and a big sigh of relief for the entire coaching staff and team. The monkey may finally be off their backs for now, but home games the next two weeks against Nebraska and Northwestern don’t make life much easier for the Green and White.
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.