Takeaways from the Michigan State Spartans defeat in Eugene


Sep 6, 2014; Eugene, OR, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Connor Cook (18) returns to the side line following a missed throw in the first half against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans were defeated handily in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday evening by the No. 3, Oregon Ducks. Head coach Mark Dantonio said the Spartans game on the west coast would be a good measuring stick to see how the defending Rose Bowl Champions would stack up against the top 10 in the nation.

“Defensively, blowing two coverages, they hit us on another one on a blitz, too many big plays, too many explosive plays, but that’s Oregon, we understand that’s part of this.” – Spartans Head Coach, Mark Dantonio

Michigan State’s defense gradually took control early. It started when nose tackle Lawrence Thomas and end Marcus Rush sacked Mariota on consecutive plays. But the pressure came as a combination of coverage and because Oregon struggled to run the ball. The Ducks had 13 rushing yards on 14 plays in the first half and averaged 2.5 yards per play.

The Spartans then took a six-point lead into halftime. MSU’s Michael Geiger would add a  42-yard field goal to start the third, giving Michigan State a 27-18 lead.

That’s when the wheels came off.

The Ducks would go on to score 28 unanswered in route to a comfortable victory. When Dantonio was asked about the defeat after the game, he cited “too many big plays” and  “blown coverages” as the reason things got out of control so quickly. He also stated that his offense “stalled out”.

"“There was an ebb and flow in this game, they started out pretty fast, we needed to get some things done, we were able to counter that in the second quarter, and went in at halftime with a six-point lead,” said Dantonio, whose team saw its 11-game win streak snapped. “We came out in the third quarter and we’ve got to score touchdowns, not kick the field goal.“So we stalled out, and that happened a couple of other times in the fourth quarter when we were able to possibly cut it back to a one-score difference.”“Things started to snowball and we couldn’t stop it from snowballing.”"

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for two of his three touchdowns in the third quarter as he was able to elude the Spartans pass rush. Furthermore, the Ducks gained 160 of the teams 172 yards rushing yards in the second half.

Saturdays loss was the sixth consecutive game that the Spartans loss against a top-10 team in a true road game.

The Big Ten Championship against Ohio State and the Rose Bowl game against Stanford were both at neutral sites.

More from Michigan State Spartans

The last time MSU won on the road against a top-10 team?

2005. A 44-41 win over the then, No. 10 Fighting Irish in Notre Dame.

Michigan State is now 4-21 in its last 25 road games against top-10 teams.

BCS Implications

Depending on how the rest of the regular season goes, this could become the first real test for the College Football Playoff’s selection committee.

For MSU, the Spartans played well on the road in a hostile environment, got a strong outing out of continuously improving quarterback Connor Cook, and was a couple of plays away from leaving town with a win. How much of a factor all that will play at the end of the year is unknown for now, but it could be something for the selection committee to consider.