So, Saturday afternoon, I caught The Death. It had started creeping in on Friday morning but Saturday afternoon it was on like Donkey Kong. I couldn't make it through a conversation without a cough drop, something hot to drink (which ruled out most of what you do drink at a tailgate) or just coughing for about 25 seconds. I mentally entertained skipping the game and it would have been my first scratch unrelated to a wedding in eight years. In the end though, wisdom prevailed, pain is temporary, pride is forever and all that other nonsense. Armed with two rolls of cough drops and drinking four hot chocolates throughout I watched one of the best games I have ever seen at Spartan Stadium.
See for as damned uncomfortable as I was physically on Saturday night this isn't about me or really the other 75,000 fans in Spartan Stadium. This night was about the Michigan State Football team. A team picked to win this game by no one except a handful of local media. A team who was minus one of their best players in Will Gholston and whose Defensive Coordinator was given one of the most wristslappy rebukes I have ever seen on Friday afternoon. An offense whose problems have been maligned even on this very blog laying out the mighty Badgers for 37 points. A
fifth year walk-on (Elsworth is apparently a sophomore) making not one but two critical plays to win the game for the Spartans. Kirk Cousins going out and putting up 22/31 for 3 TD's and no picks against the nation's fourth ranked pass defense. And....
Keith Nichol's day in the sun. Holy crap if this kid hasn't earned it. He could have chosen not to come back after spurning MSU for the Sooners. But he did. He could have left after losing out the starting job to Kirk Cousins in 2009, but he didn't. He could have tried to beat out Cousins for the gig in 2010, but he didn't, he chose instead to be a Wide Receiver because he thought it's where he could best help the team. With that touchdown grab, Keith Nichol has 202 yards and 1 Touchdown on the season, hardly stultifying numbers, but way to make your one count. Congratulations sir.
As a result, I think our team would have kicked Badger ass with or without us on Saturday night, but I'm happy I was invited to spectate.
- Keshawn Martin the Wide Receiver appears to be back to form. I thought his receiving struggles were related to the lack of a legitimate 2 receiver and him being asked to play outside of his typical slot role, but some switch flipped for him in the past couple games. Keshawn Martin the Punt Returner still looks a skosh iffy to me.
- Congratulations to Kyler Elsworth. A HUGE 3rd down stop in the second quarter to force the Badgers to kick a field goal that was subsequently blocked. Speaking of blocking, did you know he blocked that punt that was then returned for a touchdown. Congrats Mr. Elsworth.
- The Wisconsin playaction is breathtaking and their run game is always enough of a threat that you cannot write off the run on playaction. There were several times in this game that the run was sold so well I had no idea that it was a pass until the ball was in the air. Our defense was outstanding on Saturday despite giving up 31 points.
- 1. The number of interceptions Russell Wilson had this season coming into the MSU game. 2. The number of interceptions he had during the game. Our defense managed to do twice what one other team had done once all season. Pick off another September Heisman candidate.
- Missing Will Gholston in my opinion almost cost us this game. Not really in quarters 1,2 or 3. Specifically in Quarter four when Wisconsin was completing passes because they had ALL DAY to throw. That's where Will would have made the difference helping get to Wilson just a half second sooner would have made that game less interesting in my opinion. Glad we'll have him back for the remainder of the season.
- Did Bielema Choke this game away? Mostly no. The timeout he called on 2nd and 20 was a good decision. The one he called on 3rd and 8 was not. State would have had to call a timeout in that situation anyway which means we have one less for the Rocket play. Hindsight's 20-20 of course, but there was just too much field to defend for him to think he was really going to pull that off on 3rd and 8.
Anyway, great win, program win maybe even? Great game to watch and might be the set up for a huge rivalry going forward.