MSU 45, CMU 7. Spartans go to 3-1.

It’s great to win. CMU may not be a B1G caliber team this year, but it’s still great to win. A cleansing win after last weeks breakdown versus Notre Dame. Everything is reset. Everything is renewed. All is well again in the Spartan empire.

How about Le’Veon Bell! Eight carries for 81 yards. Three TDs.

I rejoice in MSU’s running game because as we all know, when we can run, we can win. Saturday’s routing of Central Michigan was a true four-headed running attack by State. Bell led the ball carriers, but Caper had 11 carries for 54 yards, Baker had 16 for 51 yards and Hill had 8 for 21 yards. That’s 208 total yards for the team.

Baker came out  rushing like classic Edwin Baker. He was very solid on the first drive. But where is the cut-flash-gone Baker from last year? I know the O-line is struggling which will have a mighty negative effect on the running game, but I just thought Baker was going to be THE guy this year. I’m not down on him. Not at all. He’s solid and he’s contributing in a big way. He’s doing his part. I’m rooting for you Edwin.

And here’s to B.J. Cunningham. Cunningham continues to haul in passes just when the Spartans need them. He had three grabs for 67 yards including a 54 yard strike on the first drive.

But like the running game, MSU spreads it around. Check out all the Spartans getting in on the action Saturday: Sonntag (4), Cunningham (3), Nichol (3), Lippett (3), Sims (2), Mumphery (2), Baker (1), Bell (1), Caper (1) and Lithicum (1). That’s 20 receptions for 284 yards. Not bad.

QB duty was split between Cousins and Maxwell. In the first quarter, Cousins was a bit off. he missed a few touch passes that he normally would nail. But he pulled it together quickly and ended up 13-22 with one TD and one INT before handing the reins over to Maxwell. Maxwell looked terrific. He went 7-8 with one TD, which is outstanding. Beyond the stats, he moved well, looked composed, made good decisions and was effective. It’s nice to know we have a go-to at back-up QB, and a starter-in-waiting for 2012/2013.

The Spartan Defense is now ranked 8th in the country allowing an average of 11 points per game. They played well Saturday with four interceptions including a Pick-Six by Isaiah Lewis. The D held Central to 112 yards; 91 in the air and a mere 21 on the ground.

Overall, not perfect but very good. The competition next week (and the weeks that follow) will be vastly superior and we need to be prepared.

October is a tough month for MSU this year. We start off B1G play in The Shoe against a damaged but dangerous Ohio State (3-1) squad. After a week off it’s back to East Lansing for the most important game of the year (IMHO) versus Michigan (4-0, #22). The Spartans have made a habit of handing the Wolverines their first loss as of lately. Next up is Wisconsin (4-0, #6) who are looking very tough (although they haven’t really been challenged yet) and are probably looking for some revenge after MSU handed them their only loss in the 201o season. To wrap-up October, MSU heads to Lincoln to face B1G newcomer Nebraska (4-1, #9). This is a a textbook “tough stretch” for the Spartans. A lot will be sorted out in the B1G in October, at least within the Legends division.

November is no cake walk either, but October is THE test. It starts next week with the MSU-OSU game on ABC and/or ESPN at 3:30pm Eastern. It’s going to be a hell of a game.

Go Green!

Rants and Ranks.

AP POLL: Well crap. You lose one lousy game and the AP takes you from 15 to 26. And 26 is the top spot for getting votes but not being ranked, but let’s be honest… MSU is not ranked. And based on our offensive line’s performance, I can’t really squawk to loudly.  So here’s the gist:

  • Wisconsin went from #7 to #6
  • Nebraska goes from #11 to #9
  • Michigan enters the rankings at #22
  • Illinois enters the rankings at #24
  • Michigan State and Ohio State both fell out of the rankings – this is the first time OSU has been un-ruanked in seven years.
COACHES’ POLL: Still crap, but not as crappy. MSU dropped down but did not drop out. Thank you to the coaches for having some confidence in the Spartans. Here’s the highlights:
  • Wisconsin went from #8 to #7
  • Nebraska went from #10 to #9
  • Michigan enters the rankings at #21
  • Michigan State went from #15 to #23.
  • No Ohio State
Overall, no major world shakers this week. Wisconsin and Nebraska continue to represent. Michigan and Illinois have some momentum.
Lastly, let’s give it up to ESPNU Fans who rank the Spartans #16. I knew I like those folks.

ND 31, MSU 13. Spartans drop to 2-1.

Well that was disappointing.

Penalties. Lot’s of them.

Turn-overs.

Inability to finish drives.

Inability to run the ball.

Inability to hold up front.

A sobering first real test of the 2011 Spartans. But even in all that mess, there was some goodness. It’s a matter of tightening up. Of learning from mistakes and building. Moving forward.

The Chippewas next week is the last tune-up before B1G play begins with Ohio State, so now is the time to get it together. I feel this team can do it. They can build. They can learn. They can move forward.

Go Green.

Game Day!

The Michigan State Spartans take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame today in South Bend. The 0-2 Irish are favored over the 2-0 Spartans as they two legendary teams face-off for the 75th time.

The 1966 was called The Game Of The Century as ND was ranked #1 and #2 in the two polls of the time, and MSU was ranked #2 and #1. The final score was 10-10 and ND was criticized for running the clock out and settling for a tie instead of going for the win.

We certainly didn’t see that kind of approach in 2010 when MSU went for the win in OT instead of kicking a FG to extend the game in to another overtime. And I doubt we’ll see that mentality from the Irish today as they are desperate for win #1.

I wonder how the 1966 game would have ended had the OT rules of today applied back then? Spartan Stadium with home crowd advantage. ND without several key players. I think MSU would have carried the day. But that’s just speculation.

See you at 3:30 for kickoff

GO GREEN! GO WHITE! GO SPARTANS!!!

Hitting The Road: At Notre Dame.

The first road game, and really the first true test of the 2011 Spartans happens tomorrow in South Bend, Indiana on the campus of Notre Dame. Although it’s not a conference game, it is still a rivalry game, and the Irish will be looking to settle the score for 2010’s overtime loss at Spartan Stadium.

That play, “Little Giants”, must be like a recurring nightmare to the Irish as it stunned the shit out of them when it happened and has been replayed thousands and thousands of times since then. Do you remember the look on Brian Kelly’s face? Or Dane Crist? Stunned. Shocked. Lost. Confused. Beaten. The Spartans went all-in, and won it all.

All of that hoopla will come to a crescendo at kickoff Saturday.

Will the Irish be traumatized or will they be inspired?

Does the fact that they are 0-2 on the season mean that Notre Dame is broken and beaten, or does it mean they’re angry and amped?

Will Brian Kelly’s head explode if ND continues to turn the ball over as it has in their first two games?

In my opinion, both teams will be fired up. This is going to be a hard-hitting affair. Emotions will be running high and adrenaline will be abundant. Both teams have great talent, but it will like come down to who makes the fewest mistakes. Turn-overs will be a major factor. Both defenses have their work cut out for them. I think ND’s offensive line is an advantage, but MSU’s defense is looking tough. I believe that Sparty will run the ball well, as they did in 2010, and that they’ve kept their powder dry in terms of running plays that have been called in the first two outings. Expect to see some interesting new plays.

Botom line is that ND is playing for survival. Survival is a major motivator, so I’m a little worried that State won’t be as “up” as the Irish. But let’s not forget that survival goes hand-in-hand with desperation, and desperate men are know to make stupid mistakes.

I wouldn’t look for any last-second game-deciding trick play this year… or maybe that’s exactly what we want you to think!

Oh, and no heart attacks this year. Please.

Some MSU-ND facts:

  • This will be the 75th meeting between the two teams
  • ND leads the series 45-28-1
  • ND is 27-13 in South Bend, and 16-13 in Notre Dame Stadium
  • MSU has won 10 of the last 14 meetings in the series including six of the last seven in Notre Dame Stadium
  • Nine of the last 11 games have been decided by seven points or less
  • MSU is ranked second in victories (28) versus ND (USC leads with 34)
  • MSU is tied with USC for wins (13) at Notre Dame Stadium
Oh, and Vegas like the Irish by five. Say what?
Go Green!

Spartan One-Off Unis.

I don’t know where I stand on the special uniform debate to be honest.

I like the idea of throwbacks, but sometimes I think bygones should stay bygones. The Notre Dame and Michigan unis last week were actually very cool. But some of them have just been plain old ugly.

And then there are special uniforms the likes of Nike Pro Combat that are hauled out for one game and one game only. This year the Spartans are one of nine teams to go Pro Combat for one game, and it happens to be the Michigan game.

I’m digging it, actually. I like the look. Very tough. Very Spartans. The only thing I’m missing is a touch of white somewhere, but it’s not a big deal. And check that Spartan logo on the gloves… killer. I hope they’re sticky!

The Copper helmets with Green Spartan livery is classic and cool. A bit Irish, but still all Spartan. I like the black stripe, and that is tapered like the white stripe on the regular helmut is.

Basically, the photos tell the story. I think they are badass, and I’m excited about the 10/15 Michigan game in Spartan Stadium to see them in action. But, of course, we’ve got some other games to play before we get there, so we should keep our focus on Notre Dame for the time being.

One last thing, here’s a quote from the rather hyperbolic press release:

Echoing the cry of King Leonidas, the back of the collar is inscribed with the words “Molon Labe,” the Spartans’ defiant challenge to the competition to “come and get them!” Gloves complete the traditional Spartan headdress look. Armed with intensity and determination, MSU will fight on the battlefield until the last team is standing.

Go Green!

Polls, rankings, and what about that crazy ND-UM game?

The Week 3 rankings are out and MSU is sitting nicely at #15 in both the AP and USA Today polls. Looks like the Spartans didn’t get too much credit for it’s man-handling of FAU. And that makes sense.

In terms of the B1G, Wisconsin is #7 AP / #8 USA Today, Nebraska is #10 in both, Ohio State is #17 AP / #16 USA Today, and Penn State dropped out of the top 25 after losing to Alabama.

Oddly enough, Michigan is sitting just outside the top 25 at #26 in both polls. How’s that?

Did the pollsters not see the Notre Dame-Michigan game last night? Did they not experience the same bizzarro flashback to the RichRod era? Do they not feel that Michigan remains a one-headed monster that doesn’t know how to tie it’s shoelaces? This is the same burn hot, burn out Michigan team that we’ve seen and loved for three years. Do you call what was on TV last night “Michigan Football”? Bo would shit a block M shaped turd at the thought of it. But he, I mean they did win and are rolling at 2-0. If they go 3-0, people will be talking Rose Bowl and BCS Bowls. Just like 2010. And the year before that. Same old, same old.

So, if Michigan is lacking real substance, where does that leave Notre Dame? I think the Irish have the talent but can’t seem to pull it all together yet. Coach Kelly seems to be losing his mind and Tommy Rees looks exasperated every time he heads for the sidelines. I’m not seeing a team as of yet, I’m seeing a bunch of guys wearing matching clothes. And that to me is a coaching problem. Solve that and you might have yourself a powerhouse.

The game last night was sooo much fun to watch. A spectacle. A beautiful catastrophe. So ugly at times yet brilliant a second later. Pure entertainment. I was rooting for Notre Dame. (Note – I like Notre Dame and will root for them every week of the season except one, and you know which week that is. I have never and will never pull for Michigan. Never. My least favorite team of all time.) I thought Notre Dame had the better game last night, and I was pretty sure that they would pull it out. But nope. The Denard Effect kicked in and Bam, instant win right at the last second, when you need it.

MSU plays at Notre Dame next week and I really don’t know what to expect from the 0-2 Irish. Could be a born again Notre Dame that has licked it wounds, banded together and plays like champions. Or could be a bunch of frustrated guys wearing matching clothes. I pray nobody in East Lansing is underestimating them because I do think they are dangerous. I hope that the game is not nearly as entertaining as the Michigan game, that much I know.

Go Green!

MSU 44, FAU 0. Spartans go to 2-0.

No disrespect to Florida Atlantic intended, but the Spartans made that look easy. That was fun. That was domination.

The Owls had one first down. All day, one first down. One. Wow. And only 48 yards.

The Spartans came out fired up. They had a little blood in their eye to quote a pre-game Dantonio speech from 2010. I loved it.

Captain Kirk went 16/21 for 183 yards, two TDs and no picks. Very nice. And Andrew Maxwell went 6/9 for 63 yards. It’s great that Maxwell gets some game experience, and he looked good. But Cousins looked great. Obvious confidence and laser-accurate passing. I was nervous on more than one through, but he was on the money.

On the other end of those passes, I think about half the team caught a pass today. B.J. Cunningham had five catches for 73  yards which is four more than he needed to break the all-time receptions record for MSU. Way to go B.J.! K-Mart was awesome with seven receptions for 72 yards. Keshawn took a tough hit and went out, but he seemed to be okay on the sidelines so I’m hoping that was just a scare. Also pulling down passes for the Spartans was Dion Sims (4), Keith Nichol (2), Edwin Baker (1), Brad Sonntag (1), Keith Mumphery (1) and Garrett Celek (1). All totalled, that’s 22 completions for 246 yards and two TDs.

On the ground anyone and everyone had touches. Le’Veon Bell and Nick Hill both had 14 carries for 70 and 58 yards respectively. Baker and Caper both had nine caries for 51 and 28 yards. Overall, 55 runs for 208 yards and two TDs (Bell and Baker). I’m happy with the running game, don’t get me wrong, but I guess I expected to see Baker put up big, BIG numbers. The MSU backs are functioning as a true team right now, which is smart, so I shouldn’t be disappointed, but I miss my 100+ yard games for Edwin.

Special teams were good, not great. Conroy makes a 50-yard FG, but then misses #2 on the season for 28 yards – off of the upright. Muma booted a FG though, which was unexpected.

In a nutshell, that was just too easy. Too much fun. Too sweet, like candy, where it tastes good but you kind of feel guilty. I’m feeling good about MSU but I am very cautious because I know the real test hasn’t come yet. Notre Dame might not even be the real test, but we’ll know a bit more about the Irish after their game versus Michigan tonight. I am very happy that we put away FAU with little trouble, but that is the way it should be. Candy.

Stay tuned for the Fighting Irish next week. They may be an angry 0-2 or a still angry but slightly less so 1-1; but either way they are not to be underestimated. There is talent there and that rivalry thing can swing things in either direction. But for now, way to go Spartans!

Go Green!