Today's Wojo column in the Detroit News is about the MSU - ND game.
The link to the article is here: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100917/OPINION03/9170358/Spartans-vs.-Irish-rarely-disappoints-tipsy-masses
However, he couldn't resist a little, Little Brother trash talking. To wit:
I like it when Wojo stokes up the fires of resentment in East Lansing. No better place, I always say.Michigan State's Kirk Cousins has been billed as, possibly, the best quarterback in the Big Ten who actually ties his shoelaces. Always eager to keep up with their brotherly neighbors, the Spartans sent word to the national media Cousins often runs around with his chinstrap unbuckled.
Would you pay $$$ to see your 6-6 team with 11 members suspended get dismembered by 8-4 Texas Tech?
I think I'd rather go to Disney World.
New England put in their backup quarterback for the fourth quarter, and it's none other than Brian Hoyer. He was 9-11 for 52 yards in garbage time. Think he'll be the next Matt Cassel?
Recently I've been wondering how any other in-state rivalries compare to the Wolverines & Spartans. In the (state of) Michigan case, we have one school that has historically dominated another school on and off the field (if not the court, ha). How might that be quantified? Well, these two resources were helpful:
Michigan has a 68.8% winning percentage against MSU and is a whopping 45 spots ahead of it in the U.S. News and World Report ranking (for what it's worth). Domination, correct?
What other in-state rivalries compare? Sticking to apples-and-apples comparisons, there aren't many. This will be restricted to BCS-level public schools. So, I won't be comparing USC and UCLA or OSU and Kent State.
Here are the rivalries where the dominant football school (one that has won at least 60% of the games) is at least forty spaces ahead in the academic ranking. The number shown is the difference between rankings.
**: Texas and Texas Tech (which is a "Tier 3" school, meaning it's ranked somewhere beyond 130, which means that the difference is at least 83, since UT is #47)
75: Washington and Washington State
53: North Carolina and NC State
53: Florida and Florida State
47: Clemson and South Carolina
45: UM and MSU
41: Kansas and Kansas State
Here's how the ranking looks for football (with winning percentage):
74.1%: Texas and Texas Tech
68.8%: UM and MSU
65.2%: Washington and Washington State
64.6%: North Carolina and NC State
63.7%: Kansas and Kansas State
62.4%: Clemson and South Carolina
61.1%: Florida and Florida State
So, by the numbers, Texas Tech is much more of a little brother to Texas than MSU is to UM. It could be that it's just accepted there, unlike here. Any Texans care to comment on that? UW and WSU have impressive numbers, too. I have the sense that it's similar to our rivalry. None of the other rivalries (despite the impressive numbers) seem comparable. UNC, Clemson, and Kansas aren't historical football powers. Florida is obviously at the top of the heap now, but FSU has had some good years in the modern age.
1. The Inability of Michigan's Defense to Stop Michigan State Early.
-On State's first drive, they had 4 penalties for 50 yards. Their drive was 80 yards. That's 130 yards total of offense they had to create. Anytime a team gets a personnel foul 15 yard penalty, it normally KILLS the drive. There are two reasons why it didn't here: Both times it was AFTER the play, so it merely set MSU back, rather than 2nd and 25, it was 1st and 10 from 15 yards back. Second, Michigan failed to make MSU pay for the chop block penalty that set them at 2nd and 25. Instead, they allowed Cousins to scramble and practically erase the penalty. More on that later. Through out the entire first half, Michigan's defense did not stop State on 3rd down until late in their drives, if at all.
2. The Inability of Michigan's Defense to Contain
-A couple plays come to mind: namely every time Cousins scrambled out of the pocket, he picked up at least 10 yards because our defense lost contain and could not close in fast enough. We got KILLED by this the whole game. Give props to Cousins for seeing that massive hole to run through, because it was his for the taking. Our defense just could not stop him at all. And let's not mention that end-around where Michigan had the play resolved and just had to make the tackle, but somehow managed to allow Martin to run around the entire defense and turn a 3-4 yard loss into an 18 yard gain.
3. The Inability of Michigan's Defense to Get Turnovers
-MSU presented plenty of opportunities for the Wolverine's to get a turnover by having I believe three or four fumbles during the game, only one of which was recovered. Granted one bounced literally into the arms of MSU's Grant as he was getting up from a block, but the others were recoverable. We were able to force the turnovers but we just couldn't recover them.
4. The Inability of Michigan's Defense to Get Pressure And Disrupt The Pocket
-This goes hand-in-hand with number 2. Giving Cousins and Nichol over 5 seconds to throw and not coming up with a sack is ridiculous. Giving them over 5 seconds to throw and then letting them scramble for 15 yards is just inexcusable. Our defensive front got beat all day long. Yea you can say they showed poise on the early goalline stand, or the Brandon Graham I'll-Knock-You-Into-Next-Year-When-I-Don't-Get-Blocked tackle on MSU's Winston, but overall they didn't show up.
Okay, enough gripe about the defense, we know they sucked coming into this game, but how about the offense with Tate the Great?
5. The Inability of Michigan's Receivers to Catch a Pass
-Seriously, how many dropped balls did we have in the first half? Like a billion? Ok, only about 4 or so, but still. It seemed like our receivers just could not hang onto the ball or make a catch all game long. Tate would scramble around and make the throw only to have it fall through someone's hands, or be caught and then jarred loose. Give credit again to MSU for delivering big hits on a couple of those, but some had the receiver wide open and they just dropped it.
6. The Inability of Michigan's Offense to Adjust to MSU's Defensive Front
-When you continuously try to run the ball up the middle the whole game, and continuously get stuffed, how does that make a good game plan? Carlos Brown thrives on speed and being able to blow by people, not run up the middle and pound it out; that's Minor's job. Michigan needed to find ways to get Carlos outside in space, rather than have him try to get yards by going forward up the middle.
7. The Inability of Michigan's Offense to Convert Turnovers
-Biggest case, the opening series. Got a great turnover early and a touchdown would have been icing on the cake to start the game. Instead, the most Michigan can muster is a net 5 yard loss and tack up the field goal. Had Michigan scored there, the entire game is different. Then again later in the 3rd quarter, a clutch interception takes away three points, and what does Michigan do? Makes the most confusing play call of all-time.
8. The Worst Play Call of All-Time
-4th and inches, deep in their own territory, Michigan opts to kick it...except not. Instead, Zoltan tries to run from 8 yards deep to get to the first. Normally on fake punts it goes to one of the guys setting up the block, not the punter. And if it does go to the punter, it's normally a pass, because he's so far deep. In that scenario if Michigan truly wanted to go for it, give the ball to Brandon Minor, or have Tate get under center and push. Either way, that play could have changed the game had Michigan's defense not miraculously held MSU to a field goal.
9. Michigan Did Not Want It
-If you watched the game, you could see the hunger and desire in the eyes of the players of MSU. They wanted this win. This win could turn around their season and give them a shot at a Big Ten Title run. This win would define the rest of their season. For Michigan, it seemed the players were content with starting 4-0 (and then 4-1) and the passion was not there as it was for MSU. Granted, it was in East Lansing, but that does not excuse the fact that Michigan's effort was severely lacking compared to MSU the entire game. I don't know if players weren't focused or what, but they just didn't seem as into it as MSU.
10. Tate Can't Do Everything Himself
-Out of the Michigan players, this is the one kid that did want it. His two fourth quarter drives proved it. He wanted to win, and he wanted it badly. He did everything in his power to guide his team to victory, but in the end it wasn't enough. He can't carry the whole team by himself; he needs support from the other players. Tate will be great, of that there is no doubt, as it already has been proven. But every great player has a great supporting cast, and others now need to step up.
Michigan did not win this game, because they had no business being in this game. Those last fourth quarter drives were unearned and Michigan did not deserve to be in overtime with Michigan State. The result is what it should have been, a loss for Michigan. The Wolverine's took their early successes as an excuse to look past MSU, especially given MSU's 3-1 start. But now Michigan needs to regroup and refocus for next week, and continue to take the season one game at a time.
This was a tough loss to handle, especially after tying the game and going into overtime. But next week's game is going to be harder. Iowa brings a defense that is 3rd in the Big Ten behind Penn State (#1) and Ohio State (#2). They won't need to outscore the Wolverine's if their defense does their job, and their offense should be fine against Michigan's porous defense. Michigan needs to step up and find other role players on both sides of the ball that can make plays. This is the spot of college football, and on any given Saturday, any team can win.
Great article for those of you who have Rivals... It is a Chait article and the Title Says most of it's point:
MSU on the Rise Again (And Again, And Again...)
This is something that I think is a great point and one that I hope our Basketball team sheds soon. It seems like everytime MSU goes 8-4 or hires a new hot shot coach - I hear all this hype as if they are on the cusp of something big.
I mean what is on the rise for this program? Would it be a legitimate run at the Conference Championship? Starting 5-0 at some point? Be a preseason Nat. Championship "dark horse"?
Thoughts? Hopefully our Basketball team is back on top for good. But Seriously it is as if MSU Football is a Phoenix that never fully rises from the ashes.
Maybe they should make towels, "MSU, on the rise...AGAIN"