It wasn’t nearly as easy as the 26-10 score indicates, but the Michigan State Spartans overcome their typical mistakes and offensive ineptitude to become bowl eligible for the sixth straight year. By beating the Golden Gophers of Minnesota today, Coach Dantonio breathed a sigh of relieve that his “bowl eligibility” streak is still alive while the head coach at M.S.U. Thanks in large part to Big Ten rushing champion Le’Veon Bell who rushed for an astonishing 266 yards today, (his season ending total of 1,648 yards beat out Montee Ball of Wisconsin by 120 yards), the Spartans will likely be headed to Tempe, A.Z. to face a Big 12 opponent in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on December 29th. Today’s victory capped a satisfying end to an otherwise unsettling season.
Despite the win, many questions remain about the future of this program heading into 2013 with Andrew Maxwell as the starting QB and Dan Roushar as the offensive coordinator. Even against one of the worst secondary’s in the Big Ten and a Gopher defense geared to stop Bell, Maxwell threw two interceptions today, one which led to the Gophers lone T.D. of the day. He was only 13 for 29 for 143 yards with one touchdown and even the touchdown pass was lucky as it went off the hands of intended receiver Tony Lippett and into the hands of Bennie Fowler behind him in the end zone. The offense under these two has been completely void of consistency and rarely performs at its best when it is needed most.
Today was no exception, with a key drive in the third quarter as an excellent example of the kind of garbage the M.S.U. offense has produced all season. With the game and the bowl streak still in doubt in the 3rd quarter and the Spartans only up 16-10 the defense and special teams did everything but gift wrap a touchdown to seal the game away. After the D again stood tall and forced the Gophers to go three and out and punt the ball from their own end zone, A.J. Sims retuned the punt 44 yards, giving the offense a first and goal at the Gophers seven yard line. What did the offense do with precious gift? No, thank God they didn’t turn the ball over! They did manage to go negative six yards and again settle for a field goal in the red zone.
We’ve seen this failure to close the deal all season long by the offense. Thankfully the Gophers simply weren’t good enough to take advantage of breaks when they got them; that, the Spartans great D and Bell are the main reasons Sparty came out with a victory today. If the Spartans want to get back to competing for the Legends Division title, both Maxwell and the offense must execute better. If they don’t, even with the talented Aaron Burbridge, Dion Sims, Le’Veon Bell, Keith Mumphrey and prize wide receiver Devon Harris out of Grand Rapids Christian, next year will be just as exasperating.
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.