[Ed-M: If you ignore the obvious derp parts this is diary-worthy]
Here are my takeaways on the MSU/UM game and thoughts moving forward.
1. Gholston - I will start with the elephant in the room. Did Gholston make dirty plays? Yes. Should he be suspended? Yes. Should this be the number one story from the game? No. Do I think Dantonio/Narduzzi teach players to injure opponents? No.
My opinion is that Gholston was super jacked up for a rivalry game and in his warped mind thought that this is what a rivalry game means. He was wrong, he should be punished and I expect him to learn from this. If he continues to make these type of plays he should be gone. That's my take.
For those thinking that Dantonio should have removed him immediately from the game, I think you are crazy. I can't think of any coach who has voluntarily removed a player. Did RRod remove Mouton? Did Carr remove Greg Matthews?. Should Carr have? No. Should RRod have? No. Should Dantonio have? No.
[Ed-M: And there's the derp. I expected both Mouton and Mathews (one 't') to be suspended. Mouton was. If either of those players had a repeat offense during the same game, absolutely you should pull him. Gholston had three such plays, the arm-bar, the punch (the least of them), and the piling-on and facemask twist. He should have been pulled after the second. As I said above, ignore the derp.]
In the heat of the game, coaches don't have ESPN replays and they probably don't even know what happened. Plus, they have a duty to move onto the next play. I just think it is entirely unrealistic to expect a coach to self police DURING the game and unilaterraly remove one of his players.
2. The game is won in the trenches - Nothwithstanding the snap count timing, I still think MSU won the battle up front. This doesn't mean UM isn't "tough", it just means that MSU's patchwork OLine did enough to run the ball. To me, that was the biggest key to the game. I said before hand, if MSU loses it is because they can't run it and UM pressures Cousins into bad decisions. MSU was able to run it and Cousins was clean.
3. 2012 Whooping in Ann Arbor and beyond - I have read some comments from some regarding the whipping UM will put on MSU in 2012. I don't see it happening. You can never predict a year in advance and I'm not saying MSU will win, but I don't see a "whooping". The reason is that MSU will still be better in the trenches next year. We return 10 of 11 defensive starters next year. 9 of 11 if Worthy leaves. MSU's OLine will return 4 of 5 starters and a bunch of injured reserves. Conversely, UM loses its best two DLineman (Martin and RVB) and Molk. IMO, Michigan will not regain the upper hand until Hoke has his OLine and DLine in place. This will probably be 2013 or 2014, not 2012. Here is where I disagree with some UM fans. I think Hoke is a good coach and nobody can dispute that he has recruited VERY WELL. However, some people just assume that MSU will fade into Bolivia (isn't that used on this board) and cede control back to UM. I understand that is what you hope for and expect as UM fans. I get that, but as an MSU fan, I just tend to disagree. I have no illusions that MSU will win 10 in a row, but I feel that once UM gets back on its feet, MSU will stay there with them and go toe to toe.
Why? Because Dantonio has proven he can evaluate and develop talent (especially on defense). This MSU defense is not loaded with 4 and 5 star players. It has a few, but our best players (Worthy, Adams, Rush) were 3 star recruits from Ohio that Dantonio will continue to get. Others (Darqueze Dennard and Trenton Robinson) were 2 stars. My point is, even when Hoke gets his guys, I expect this to still be a hotly contested rivalry, not an ass whipping like it has been the last 4 years (in our favor) or the last 40 years (in your favor).
4. Gardner and Denard - I said before the year that I would have rolled with Gardner because he is the future and he has the tools to do what Borges wants to do. TO HIS CREDIT, Borges put his ego on the backburner and went with Denard running mostly RRod's offense. It's easy to criticise after a loss and call for Gardner, but MICHIGAN IS 6-1!!! If Gardner were QB, what would their record be? My guess is 5-2 at best (a loss to ND). With that said, I never felt this would be a championship year for UM and it would better to gear towards the future (i.e. Gardner). However, it is a difficult and delicate decision. It would have been disingeniuos by Hoke to brink Denard back with the promise he was his QB and then ship him off to WR/RB/Slash. Now that UM is 6-1, I think Hoke would be a fool to switch to Gardner. UM (even with its warts) is still capable of winning the Legends division with Denard at the helm.
5. MSU v. Wiscy&Nebraska - Of course I desperately want to win against Wisconsin on ESPN under the lights. BUT, if I could play "let's make a deal", I would take a Wiscy loss for a Nebraska win right now. Beating NEB would ensure that we hold the tiebreaker over NEB and UM and we would control our own destiny.