The Michigan State Spartans prove they know how to win like an elite football program. After years of success, the Spartans make skeptics look foolish.
There were so many times this season the Michigan State Spartans looked vulnerable. They just looked unimpressive and the injuries were slowly starting to pile up.
Their play was lackluster at best. And while they looked good against the Michigan Wolverines and Oregon Ducks, there were too many times where they played down to the competition.
It happened against the Rutger Scarlet Knights, Nebraska Cornhuskers, and a few other teams. This team just had a tough time putting games away. Eventually it caught up to them in their game against Nebraska.
The secondary played awful that game and the stout defensive line looked weak. Their first loss of the season was a combination of all the problems the Spartans had dealt with all season long.
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Coupled with the perception that they lucked their way into a win against the Wolverines (they did), the national media was skeptical. And deservedly so. Even fans didn’t know what to expect.
The Spartans looked far too easy to beat so many times this season. The special teams being an utter mess didn’t help the situation either. The secondary was also decimated by injuries and it didn’t look pretty all season.
That’s why they were double-digit underdogs to The Ohio State Buckeyes. That’s why all the “experts” on College GameDay all picked the Buckeyes to prevail Saturday.
And when news trickled out starting Quarterback Connor Cook would be out with his shoulder injury, there was just no way the Spartans could pull off the upset.
O’Connor’s 11 throws last week against the Maryland Terrapins were a career-high. Playing on the road against the third ranked Buckeyes certainly didn’t help either.
While Head Coach Mark Dantonio and Cook made it seem like he was ready to go, it all seemed like a ploy to keep the opponent off-guard. But would they be able to fool OSU?
And to add to it all, the Buckeyes leading up to the game had never lost a regular season Big Ten game. Buckeye Head Coach Urban Meyer is a great coach and everyone expected him to game plan well for potentially the biggest game of the season.
Almost everything was stacked up against the Spartans. With Cook out, a loss here would have been understandable. Even the most optimistic fans were chalking this up as a loss even before the game started.
But at the end of the day, the Spartans proved almost everyone but themselves wrong. They once again proved doubters of this football team wrong. They were the better team Saturday and it was clear to everyone.
Besides a few miscues on turnovers, the Spartans dominated the Buckeyes in almost every facet of the game. The Buckeyes’ play-calling was lackluster and the Spartan D capitalized, only allowing five first downs.
The defense played inspired football and the offense gritted down and moved the chains. So when Michael Geiger kicked a 41-yard field goal to seal the win, it meant so much to the Spartans football program.
This victory is just another one of many signature wins for Dantonio. He’s brought this program so far to the elite program it is now. And with everything against the Spartans, they proved just another time what they can do. And that’s win.
With the Spartans going 10-1, their playoff hopes are still very much alive. It’s much more real than even a week ago. And so much better than when the Spartans dropped that fateful game to Nebraska.
But for now, this team must and will focus against their next opponent, the Penn State Nittany Lions. They’re a talented team with a talented QB. They’ll be looking to upset the Spartans in their last home game of the regular season.
The Spartans are in the driver’s seat of the Big Ten East. They must go out and take care of their business. But for now, the Spartans and their fans can enjoy this victory.
After all, there’s not much to be said after such a statement win when the world thought you were going to lose.