Saturday, December 7, 2013

Thoughts on Michigan State's win over Ohio State in B1G Championship

Well, I thought MSU would win, but I didn’t think the game would play out quite like it did.
The fast start wasn’t all too surprising, but Connor Cook throwing for the two long TD passes was. Ohio State answering wasn’t surprising, but the Buckeyes dominating the battle on the ground was.
MSU showing some heart and fighting back wasn’t surprising, but it still was surprising that the Spartans won and are going to the Rose Bowl. I mean, it has been 25 years. The words Rose Bowl and Michigan State just don’t go together.
But, in the end, the better team won and I truly believe that. I think Ohio State out-thought itself a little bit at times. I think the Buckeyes got away from what was working when they got ahead. Braxton Miller was solid on the ground, not with his arm. Carlos Hyde was a beast, yet the Buckeyes didn’t turn to him when it counted.
Hyde had 18 carries for 118 yards, a 6.6 average. Yet, on a 3rd and 4, he wasn’t on the field. On 4th and 2 late in the game, he wasn’t given the ball. I know Miller is a playmaker, but Hyde was the sure thing on Saturday. Michigan State couldn’t stop his forward momentum. Was he racking up 20-yard runs? No, but he was as consistent a force as there was in the game. Ohio State shouldn’t have gotten too cute and just run the ball down MSU’s throat.
Aside from that, Michigan State deserves its share of credit. The defense faced some tough moments and still came up with key stops.
Offensively, Connor Cook had a great game. He had some bad throws, but he didn’t lose his cool and made some tremendous throws in the fourth quarter.
Jeremy Langford and the offensive line started off slowly, but really put the exclamation point on the game in the fourth quarter with the game-sealing touchdown drive.
It was a team win for Michigan State and the coaching staff made some great play calls and made some good adjustments along the way.
Mark Dantonio couldn’t get the smile off his face after the win, and for good reason. He really has built Michigan State into something it hasn’t been in a long time. Aside from this season’s Big Ten title, the Spartans have had a very impressive four-year run, winning three Big Ten titles and reaching at least 11 wins three times.
The 2012 season was disappointing for Dantonio and MSU, and many (myself included) thought the Spartans were going to go back to being a mediocre program. Instead, they learned from the 2012 season and all the tough losses and carried into this year, when they played with poise and found ways to win instead of finding ways to lose.
Pat Narduzzi deserves a lot of credit and if he isn’t a head coach next season, then a lot of programs are missing out. It will be interesting to see just how much Narduzzi impacted the defense’s performance, but I think it was a pretty large amount. Dantonio should get some credit for what the defense has become, but certainly Narduzzi makes the right calls at the right time for the unit.
MSU goes on to Pasadena for a meeting with Stanford. It should be a physical football game, but I don’t see any reason that MSU can’t beat the Cardinal. The key will be for MSU not to get lost in the moment of being in the Rose Bowl, and take care of business.

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