Saturday, September 29, 2012

MSU season on the brink of disaster

It has been a long three weeks for the Michigan State football program.
In that time, the expectations for this season went from being a dark horse to win the national championship to being an outsider in the Big Ten race.
The Spartans suffered their second loss in three weeks, falling 17-16 to Ohio State at home on Saturday.
It was another ugly showing for Michigan State, and another game where the Spartans had an opportunity to win, but failed to make the plays it needed to to get the job done.
Unlike recent seasons, Michigan State has failed to show a lot of composure and come-from-behind ability in the fourth quarter.
The blame for Saturday’s loss goes on the whole team.
The defense gave up too many big plays and couldn’t get the stops it needed to against a one-man offense.
The MSU offense continued to have struggles moving the ball. When the Spartans did put a drive together, it settled for field goals instead of getting touchdowns.
On special teams, another missed field goal from Dan Conroy could have made the difference between a win and a loss.
Ohio State wasn’t overly impressive, but quarterback Braxton Miller did enough to lead the Buckeyes to a win. Ohio State had nearly 400 yards of offense against the Spartan defense, which is losing its credibility as an “elite defense” more and more with each game.
The ultimate disappointment for Spartan fans had to come on the final offensive play for the Buckeyes. Facing a 3rd and 4, Ohio State was able to run for a first down right up the middle of the Spartan defense. An elite, or even very good defense makes that stop.
When it comes to the offense, the same issues keep coming up. Receivers dropped passes again. Andrew Maxwell missed open receivers again. The offensive line failed to open up running lanes again.
Le’Veon Bell was held to just 49 yards on 17 carries. In past weeks, when Bell has rushed for big yards, it seemed as if he had to do a lot of the work himself. In both losses, he hasn’t been very visible in the game and that is because the line is losing the battle up front. Now add to that another big injury, with center Travis Jackson out for the rest of the year due to multiple leg injuries in Saturday’s game. The MSU line has been struggling when healthy, one can only assume those struggles continue with key pieces missing.
The only saving grace for the Spartans right now is that this was not a Legends Division game. MSU still controls its own destiny to get to the Big Ten Championship Game. However, based on what we have seen, can we really expect that to happen?
The Spartans head to Indiana next week and then return home to host Iowa. Those have to be wins.
Then, a rough three-week stretch awaits that will determine if this season is a complete failure. Those games are at Michigan, at Wisconsin, and then home against Nebraska.
Michigan State needs to find some solutions over these next two weeks, or the Spartans are going to find themselves back in the murky waters of mediocrity.

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