Holy heck, what a game. What a season. What a team!
13-1 for the season. Undefeated in the B1G by double-digits in every game. B1G Champions beating #2 and undefeated Ohio State. And Rose Bowl Champions beating #5 Stanford as a six-point dog. This is one of the greatest Spartan teams of all time. Just let that soak in for a bit.
Stanford is big, strong and powerful and that is how the play. Straight at you, straight through you and with bad intention. I like these guys and I like this style of football. No smarty-pants schematics or sneaky-pants read-options, just manly-man in-your-face football for men. The key is that Michigan State also plays this style of football, so this match-up was perfect. Two elephant guns pointed at each other.
Let’s talk about the defense first. I love the SpartanDawgs and I’m not afraid to say it loud and say it proud. Sure we missed Max Bullough, but Kyler Elsworth was the next man up and he did indeed man-up. That last stop on Stanford’s last play was simply beautiful. Their best versus our best and the Spartans got it done. MSU held Stanford to 305 total yards with 143 in the air and 162 on the ground. Most of that came in the first half and mainly the first quarter. The Cardinal only had 11 first-downs with only three third-down conversions and no fourth-down conversions. The Spartan defense just kept getting better as the game progressed. Guys like Taiwan Jones, Darien Harris, Denicos Allen, RJ Williamson, Marcus Rush, Trae Waynes, Shalique Calhoun and Darqueze Dennard all played an amazing game. No Fly Zone indeed. Nice game/year SpartanDawgs!
On offense, the Spartans have been getting better and better all season long and this game was one of their best. 397 total yards with an amazing 332 in the air and a hard-fought 65 on the ground. Who thought MSU could put 332 passing yards on Stanford? Amazing. Connor Cook went 22 for 36 with two TDs. He averaged 9.2 yards per reception witch is about twice what we were getting in September. And the Spartan receivers looked awesome catching everything thrown their way and then some. Bennie Fowler had two for 97 yards, Tony Lippett had five for 94 yards and a TD, MacGarrett Kings Jr. had four for 52, Fullback Tony Pendelton had two for 21 and a TD, Keith Mumphery had one for 20, etc. Great hands all around and really nice runs after the catch and after initial contact.
On the ground it was tough sledding. Stanford is no joke when it comes to stopping the run. Jeremy Langford had 23 carries for 84 yards and a TD. I was disappointed that he couldn’t keep his 100-yard streak alive, but not surprised. Langford is going to be a beast next year!
Special Teams came through as well with Mike Sadler averaging 45.5 yards per punt and putting three of them inside the 20 yard line. And how about true freshman Michael Geiger making a crucial 31-yard FG just when we needed it. Both of these guys have been absolutely money all season.
That was the best Rose Bowl I’ve ever seen including the 1988 game when MSU beat USC and I was there. The power and the control, the patience and the urgency, it was all there. The tension was high but somehow I was less nervous. I had confidence and I had faith. These guys have earned that from the Spartan faithful.
Thinking about next season I have to feel sad for all of the great players that are moving on. I’ll do a post on the seniors soon, but just know that there is a lot of heart and soul that will be missed next year. But can the Spartans reload? I think so. So many great players coming back. And the coaching staff looks like it will stay intact and those guys are all getting raises and bonuses, which is very, very good. I think next year could be a great year too but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Lastly, how do you think MSU will be sitting in the final BCS rankings? I think #2. Alabama will certainly drop and the loser of the BCS Championship game will probably too. No lower than #3 but I think #2. And that is the last BCS Ranking forever, right? Cool.
It’s good to be a Spartan.