Who has two thumbs and wants to go to a bowl game? This guy. Here's the Big 10 Bowl Schedule for this year:
Pac-10 or BCS
Capital One Bowl
C-USA or Big 12
- or 8
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Oh yeah, #6 Big 10 vs #6 Big 12. I'm not sure whether we're the Big 12 or the Big 10 in this scenario, cause see we're the Big 10 with 12 teams and they're the Big 12 with 10... Oh my god, I've gone cross-eyed. With Wisconsin sitting at #7, Ohio State sitting at #9, MSU at #11 and Iowa at #13. The odds of two big ten teams getting into a BCS bowl seem high. So for the purposes of this conjectur-y sort of thing, we'll assume the Big 10 sends two teams. If MSU, Wisconsin and OSU win out - Wisconsin - Rose - OSU - At-Large - MSU - Citrus This would pretty much suck. By pretty much suck, I mean completely suck. As an aside, there's a great chance we play one of Alabama, LSU or Auburn. Luckily Les Miles forgets what he's doing sometimes and is the most likely to be that guy. Also, he is the most hated coach of a top 10 team ever. If MSU, Wisconsin win out and OSU loses - MSU - Rose - Wisconsin - At-Large - Iowa - Citrus Well obviously, this would be the damn WIN scenario, wouldn't it? If MSU, OSU win out and Wisconsin loses - OSU - Rose - MSU - At-Large - Iowa - Citrus If MSU loses again once - MSU - Outback Bowl It's weird to type that and think, eh. But after how well the year has gone it's kind of strange to see that and not be impressed. But I would not be impressed. Remember, we're Iowa fans next weekend. We need an Iowa win to make this all possible.
1.) What a nice, calm, pleasant and boring win. I love me some exciting college football, but sheesh was I tired of nerve-wracking wins. This I think is the ideal Mark Dantonio win, 31-8 with very little in the way of theatrics and no trick plays. Our most workmanlike effort since Northen Colorado?
2.) Minnesota lost to South Dakota 41-38, who lost to Northern Colorado 34-6. According to the transitive property of College Football, we should not be too excited about point number one. Minnesota is awful, truly terrible and a win of any sort should be met with no excitement. Except for...
3.) In Minnesota's nine losses, there is only one team with a larger margin of victory over the Gophers than us. Ohio State, c'mon down. Wisconsin, Penn State, Purdue, Northwestern and USC, you may all have a seat. In this regard Minnesota may well be a good measuring stick team. So I do get a little geeked about point number one. Our spread was indicative of our place in the Minnesota Strength of Schedule pecking order.
4.) Kirk Cousins, during the bye week, please have a snack and a drink. Watch some movies, tutor small children, do whatever you need to do to relax. (Note, please do not consult Chris L Rucker or Glenn Winston for advice. ) We don't need you to go out and win all of our games for us, just go ahead and stop them from crowding the box so we can't run. You're probably the best QB to come through here since I started watching MSU football, you don't need to force throws against Minnesota.
5.) This is a pet peeve of mine. Do not sarcastically jeer the defense when we're up 24-0. Do not go on to compare this Minnesota team to the 2009 Central team. That Central team was the best team in Michigan last year. Do not, after all that, leave the game early. Frankly, please don't ever come back, we don't need fans like you. Go home and beat your wife or whatever it is you do for fun.
The defense cannot cause the other team to get negative points. So I'd say zero points is about the best they can do. Also, this is not 1908, if a team gives up under 10 points, that's a great game.
Something that concerned me going into the Iowa game was our struggling offense in the first quarter against Northwestern and Illinois. As I thought back throughout the year though I started to think this may not have been just a "Schools of Illinois" issue and just an "Spartans had better fix this issue." So in what I hope to establish as a theme of this blog, I went back and tried to do some homework on this. You know, instead of just plopping out the thought as it came into my head.
So I went back and grabbed the play-by-play of all the games this year, with the exception of Northen Colorado(I think we can all agree they should not be used to describe general trends). I was looking for two things, what's the score at the end of the first quarter and what's our 3rd down conversion percentage.
In the first quarter of play against FBS teams, we've been outscored 44-20. If you take out the Iowa and Northwestern games, that total drops to 20-20. In the eight games counted, we've been scoreless at the end of the first quarter in five of them, including 4 of 5 Big Ten games with the exception being Wisconsin. So in big ten play, we're on the wrong side of a 30-3 point differential at the end of one quarter.
I'd go on to submit that we can thank our defense for things not being worse. Our defense seems to be built around the idea that our offense can control the clock, so when we're struggling to move the ball in the first quarter, it would stand to reason our D is going to give up some points.
The second measure I was looking at was our first quarter 3rd down percentage. Through eight FBS games our offense is 8 of 23 for a whopping 34.78 percent. This would be bad, except our whole game total is 36.75 percent. Which honestly, is pretty damn terrible. Good for 86th in FBS overall. Add to that the fact that we are 63rd in allowing 3rd down conversion on defense and I think the larger issue may be illustrated for everyone. Michigan State is having trouble this year with it's third downs.
That being said, it's hard to write this as our "Achilles Heel". So far we've beaten the teams we should beat, beat one or two we maybe shouldn't have (I'm looking at you Wisconsin and Illinois). With three more wins and an Ohio State loss, we're going to the Rose Bowl. If I want perfection, I'd root for a pro team, like the Patriots, the Steelers or Alabama. I want to root for my team, and I think this may be their flaw.
It's hard to nitpick what might be my favorite season of MSU football since I became a fan.
Well, I never thought I'd feel so dissatisfied after an 8-1 start. Although I guess our sluggish starts were due to come back and get us at some point.
1.) Ferentz was playing like a dick at the end of the first half. I know, no one will play me in NCAA football for this very reason. But acting like a jerk aside, I do believe there was a legitimate method to the madness. We had outscored our opponents 23-0 and 28-10 in the second half of games in the last two weeks. Ferentz may have been up 30-0, but he was right to play it safe I think.
2.) You're down 17-0 at the end of the first quarter and this did not have the feel of the Northwestern game to me. Why play Chris L. Rucker at all? If you're not going to win or even come close, I don't see what that does for the team or your relationship with the media.
3.) Why in the hell was Antonio Jeremiah playing DT in the fourth quarter? For that matter why was anyone who won't be here next year playing in the fourth quarter? Or anyone necessary for the big ten title run?
4.) I want to slap anyone who is upset with Kirk Cousins for yesterday. He had a bad day in a tough place to play against a very good team. The guy singlehandedly won us the Northwestern game and was instrumental in winning the ND, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois game. Are we 8-1 with a lesser mortal at the helm, I think not.
5.) Not a whole lot of bright spots from yesterday outside of this: We lost the only game on our schedule that I thought was unwinnable in the preseason. The last 3 are quite winnable and two of them are practically gimme games. There's a great chance we're going to be sharing the Big Ten Title this year. There's a great chance we're going to be sharing the Big Ten Title this year. Coming into the year I thought we had a chance to be 3rd or 4th in the Big Ten, but we have a great chance to share the conference title.
Still, 37-6. Ouch. I'm glad we're getting the O-fers this week.
Ty: We got this.
Jim: I'd like to think so, but what's got you so sure?
Ty: It's obvious that at least the players were looking past Northwestern--what were they looking past them to? This game. This game is the season, now, and they know it.
Jim: I couldn't agree with you more that this game is the season. A scant four weeks ago I was preaching the gospel of how a Boise State team that hasn't lost since 2008 does deserve a shot at the national title game, now those poseurs are in our way to the national title game. Them, Iowa, PSU, Minnesota and Purdue. This was a season where my wildest dreams meant 10-2 and now that would be a bit disappointing.
However, we got this is a bit more simplistic than the truth. Our big ten season has been mired in sluggish first quarter starts. We've been outscored 13 -3 in the first quarter of big ten play. But more importantly the offense has looked anemic during the first quarter. I realize this is in part to set up the run, but if Iowa gets up 14 in the first half, I don't like our odds of a comeback in this one.
Ty: It’s true that the offense has struggled to get going in first quarters, but against Wisconsin and Michigan, I think that was more emblematic of the Spartans’ commitment to establishing the run, than of a failure to execute. Again, though, with Illinois and Northwestern, I don’t think we saw the Spartans’ best effort. Everyone on Michigan State’s bench and sideline is going to be bringing everything they’ve got to bear. Besides, the Transitive Property of College Football applies. We handily beat Wisconsin at home, Wisconsin beat Iowa at Iowa, we’ll beat Iowa at Iowa. We got this.
Jim: We also played some of our best football of the year against Wisconsin. I think we can win, but we’re basically a slightly better and more adolescent version of Iowa. We’re Iowa from last year, but Iowa is better than Michigan State was last year. We’re going to need to play four quarters tomorrow like we’ve been playing the last 2.5 quarters lately. The alternative is that Iowa comes out to establish the run and even if we start slow they’re only up 7-0 at the end of the first.
Iowa however has shown that we can throw on them. Could we come out tomorrow throwing to set up the run? It would be a game if any to do it.
Ty: Agreed. With the way the offensive line struggled to block in the second level against Northwestern, going out there and trying to out-Iowa Iowa is probably not the wisest idea. The Spartans have a much better chance to win a Cousins-Stanzi duel. Perhaps Dantonio should go with an early trick play from scrimmage? A Keyshawn Martin reverse pass to put them on their heels early?
Jim: Wouldn’t be a bad idea, but we don’t know if he’s playing or not. My guess is yes, but not a lot. I think we also have seen Nichol lineup at QB a few times in the last 4 weeks. If we’re looking to throw Iowa off balance look for Nichol to take significant snaps, although that seems unlikely. I think our best bet is to stick to what we’re good at.
Ty: On the other side of the ball, I think we should attack Stanzi early, to try and force a turnover. Everyone is expecting a run-and-stop-the-run slugfest, but I’d rather pass and rush the passer. I’d like to see Gholston deployed in unconventional fashion—again, if we surrender the run early, that’s something we can recover from. All told, if we come out attacking through the air and attacking the passer, I like us to win a shootout, 38-27.
Jim: I still like our odds, but this shouldn’t be a cakewalk, between Rucker, the sluggish 1st quarter starts and the pink locker room. I like more of a 38-35 MSU win, with apologies to 21-17 Iowa.