Tag Archives: Connor Cook

Why Not Us: Rose Bowl Bound

Being a Spartan fan isn’t a sexy pick. It’s not Alabama football or Duke basketball. It can be the highest of the highs, and the lowest of the lows. It’s a national champion basketball team and a John L. Smith football team. It’s getting trounced year after year in Big Ten football games and being called little brother by your in-state rival. It’s Rather Hall, it’s 5 Big Ten losses by 4 points or less, it’s the Notre Dame pneumonia bowl in 2006.

But on Saturday, that all changed.

I've never seen anything so pretty.

I’ve never seen anything so pretty.

In November 2006, when coach Mark Dantonio arrived in East Lansing, Michigan State football was a shadow of the teams that went to the Rose Bowl in the 80s. It was the laughingstock of the Big Ten and was hardly near the Pizza Pizza Bowl, much less a Big Ten title. But there was something in that Dantonio smirk that made you sit up and believe. He declared loudly, “I came here to win championships.”

Who would have thought, eh?

Going into the Big Ten Championship game, I felt good, but terrified. We’d been here before. We’d almost smelled the roses and had them snatched away before we could realize the ultimate goal. I knew the Spartans had a good team, had the pieces to make it happen, but I was nervous that the usual Spartan heartbreak would happen.

Hug it out.

Hug it out.

But not this time; not this year.

As soon as our Spartan Dawgs stepped out onto the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, it felt different. There weren’t sideline theatrics, there was business. They looked hungry and came out firing, leaping to a 17-0 lead.  There was the comeback by Ohio State – lead by Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, and Joey Bosa (can we talk about that guy??), but our Spartans weathered the storm. Fighting back, with the help of the closer Jeremy Langford, the Big Ten title game MVP (I mean, what?) Connor Cook at quarterback, a bounce-back championship game from Isaiah Lewis, and the No Fly Zone, the Spartans clinched a 34-24 victory over the much lauded Buckeyes and are on their way to Pasadena.

Sealing Victory: Jeremy Langford runs in for a touchdown with 2 minutes left.

Sealing Victory: Jeremy Langford runs in for a touchdown with 2 minutes left.

Looking back on this season, it feels like some sort of crazy dream that Michigan State sits atop the Big Ten standings at 12-1, are ranked number FOUR in most of the polls, and have punched their tickets to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1988. The season started with so much turmoil – from quarterbacks to whether our wide receivers would ever catch a ball again. But, eventually, it sorted itself out and the Spartans became somewhat of a force. It was a quiet force, something not many people outside of East Lansing took much notice of. But somewhere in between the disappointment and chaos of the Notre Dame loss and sacking Devin Gardner 32 times, I think we all realized that these Spartans were something special.

Mark Dantonio’s teams aren’t filled with five star recruits, but they are filled with guys who believe in their coach and his program. It’s filled with guys like Max Bullough and Darqueze Dennard who fought and clawed for every inch, every yard, every win, every ounce of respect. When Coach Dantonio climbed up on that stage to accept the Big Ten trophy, he had the face of a man who finally reached one of his goals. He looked out on the crowd, and with his bottom lip quivering* he said, “They believed. They believed. Nobody else around here believed. They believed.”

(*I’m not making this up. Watch that footage again. He looks like he might cry.)

And they did. Every one of those guys on that team believed it when Coach told them that they would be the ones. They would be the ones to do something that hadn’t been done since ANY of them were alive. They would be the ones to walk the streets and let the world know that Michigan State football was not something to be laughed at.

Fou!

Fou!

So this time the Spartans have come out on top. The culture has changed and it’s no longer what could be for Michigan State football.  It’s what IS. It’s Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol. It’s BJ Cunningham and Keshawn Martin. It’s the return of Bennie Fowler, despite disappearing earlier in the year. It’s Mike Sadler, speedo and all. It’s Pat Narduzzi – top college assistant coach – and his terrifying defense. It’s Lippett, Langford, Price, and Fou. It’s the Rocket, the Mousetrap, Little Giants, and Charlie Brown. It’s the comeback game at Northwestern, and pride coming before the fall.  It’s holding a win streak against every current Big Ten Team. It’s no longer being the bottom. It’s winning a championship and savoring every moment along the way.

It’s finally being able to smell the Roses.

Go Green. Your 2013 Big Ten Champions.

We did it. We did it. You bet we did it.

We did it. We did it. You bet we did it.

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Filed under Big Ten, Big Ten Champions, Big Ten Title Game, College Football, Football, MSU, P4RB, Posted by Sara

It Ain’t Easy Being Green, Part Whatever

Now that the BCS Championship confetti has settled, with Nick Saban climbing to the top of the crystal football and flashing his freaky white teeth, and now that the Golden Domers have returned to the bosom of Touchdown Jesus, it’s time for every non-Alabama team in the nation to take stock for 2013.

And in the New Year spirit of fresh starts, we at Sports Squared will look ahead to the 2013 Spartans, while paying only the briefest attention to the trainwreck that was the 2012 season. The Spartans have had a number of big-name departures, the most expected of which were junior linebacker William Gholston and junior running back Le’veon Bell. With the departure of kicker Dan Conroy (senior) and tight end Dion Sims, MSU is losing more than 70% of its offensive points from this season, so needless to say MSU is a big ol’ question mark heading into 2013.

First thing’s first- Offense. Offense was where Michigan State’s season lived and ultimately died this year. Aside from the outstanding play of Bell, the

Connor Cook MSU quarterback

More of this in 2013?

Spartans were a tragedy on offense. The passing game was nothing short of abysmal, and barely showed signs of improvement, even up through MSU’s victory over TCU in the BW3 bowl. The main question at hand for MSU’s offense is who will be under center when the Spartans kick off against Western Michigan on August 31. Andrew Maxwell was kind of a massive disappointment for a red-shirt junior who’s supposed to have a great skill set- and he can obviously throw the ball far, and well. However, throughout the season his decision-making left something to be desired, and he never really found a rhythm with MSU’s young receiving corps.

On the other hand, red-shirt freshman Connor Cook looked poised and calm when he got reps during MSU’s bowl game- so much so that Coach D. kept him in for the game’s pivotal final drive. This is an area I’m not ready to issue an opinion on yet- I don’t think we should send Maxwell out to pasture, but I do think Cook has shown incredible promise. Whatever happens, I trust MSU’s coaching staff to make the right decision here- like they did when they chose Kirk Cousins as MSU’s starting QB over Keith Nichol. Continue reading

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Filed under College Football, Football, MSU, Posted by Sarah, Rose Bowl?