Tag Archives: football

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: The Deux

I swear to you that one of these days (hopefully very soon), I am going to come to this blog and write something happy. I suppose I could have wandered over after the Wisconsin win and celebrated, but truthfully, I watched more of the Florida/Georgia game than the MSU one. I know, random, but I was under the influence of friends.  I did see enough to see the overtime catch and was very excited. And there was hope! That was going to be the one to turn it all around.

Sigh.

And then we reached a new level of heartbreak on Saturday when Michigan State lost another heartbreaking game in the fourth quarter. Look, I’m as mad as everyone is about the penalty on Johnny Adams. It was ridiculous and weak, we will all agree on that. But that one penalty did not lose Michigan State the game. Once again, there were opportunities to close it out and hold a 10 point lead AT HOME with 7 minutes to go. Missed chances, missed opportunities. That’s the sum of the 2012 MSU season.

From Freep.com

And just like that, it’s over.

Someone on Twitter Saturday said to me that they think this MSU team is unbearable to watch. Sure, I’ve been incredibly frustrated seeing how things have played out this year, but I don’t find them unbearable. I think there’s a great difference between unbearable and frustrating. The Spartans have lost the close games this year that they won last year.  It really breaks down that simple, in my opinion. It’s been tough, but we also were spoiled.  Having two 11 win seasons in a row was a LOT of fun. But, think all the way back to 2009. 2009 was a 6-7 year that featured a stellar home loss to Central Michigan.  It wasn’t so long ago that wins were not certain, much less guaranteed.
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Filed under Big Ten, College Football, Football, MSU, Posted by Sara

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE OFFENSE? Next Question.

The time is upon us. Big Ten season is here. Well, tomorrow it will be here, but you understand my point. I’m not certain that the Big Ten is ever really and truly considered a powerhouse when it comes to rankings (at least not initially) and this year is certainly no exception. After watching nearly every Big Ten team struggle in non-conference play, we now get the pleasure of seeing the teams battle it out amongst themselves. Someone has to win the conference, right? Right.

The “mighty” Michigan State Spartans head into Big Ten play with a strong defense and…an offense that leaves a lot to be desired.  And by desired, I mean CATCH THE BALL. I think I’m going to propose a drinking game in which every time I am compelled to yell “CATCH THE BALL,” I will take a drink of my cocktail. Join me?

For a sample of what MSU’s offense has looked like so far, please enjoy this clip from the Eastern Michigan game:

Look, let’s break this down for what it is. Anyone who follows Michigan State football knew that the offense was going to be the struggle of the season. The defense has looked like it would eat kittens for breakfast and not even blink. But did anyone think that the offense was going to be this much of an issue? I’m not sure. The Spartans are 3-1, yes. Do I think it can get better? Absolutely. At some point, I just think that things are going to come together and passes are going to be caught. It has to, right? At the end of the day, the Spartans still have Le’Veon Bell and I am confident in that. For now, at least.

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Filed under Big Ten, College Football, Football, MSU, Posted by Sara

Hold on loosely: The Rich Rodriguez situation

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or you don’t live in Big 10 country, you’ve probably heard by now that the University of Michigan is firing much-maligned coach Rich Rodriguez.

Unless they’re not.

Due to a flow of bad information, assumptions, unnamed sources and general wankery, no one knows exactly what is going on with the status of RR’s employ right now. There’s much to be said about the situation, but I’ll start with the non time-sensitive elements — namely, what the hell is wrong with the University of Michigan athletic department?

Three years ago, when AD Bill Martin botched the hire of Les Miles, the Wolverines had to scramble to get Rodriguez. Now, current AD Dave Brandon is…scrambling again. We’re not sure who he’s trying to secure, or what the scramble is about, but it’s terrible form.

If Rodriguez’s performance was so dismal as to merit firing, nothing has changed between the Penn State game (10/30/10) when U of M got beat on the road. They racked up two wins against lower rung Big 10 teams to bowl qualify, then got destroyed by Wisconsin, Ohio State and Mississippi State. If the criticism leveled against RR is that he can’t perform against top-quality teams, nothing changed. And certainly nothing changed in the 5 weeks between the Ohio State loss and the Gator Bowl.

My point being this — to find a coach that’s a great “fit” for a program, someone who will be there forever, who will build winning, championship teams, you need time. So you fire a coach mid-season, or at the end of the season and you assess the talent. If U of M has been holding out this whole time for Harbaugh, I don’t think it’s gained them much ground in that area.

And on the subject of Jim Harbaugh — I think he would be a monstrous coach at the University of Michigan. I just can’t see him resigning his positions as “Hottest Coach in Football” to take up the ailing Wolverines, when he could make more money doing less work in the NFL — in San Fransisco, Miami, Denver or Oakland. Don’t forget that if he can convince Andrew Luck (a sophomore) to stick with him, he’s got a great shot at winning a National Championship in 2011.

Finally — an athletic department run by the fans isn’t much of an athletic department at all. If the reason Rich Rodriguez is being fired is because the fans want his head, then Brandon is setting himself up for failure. Imagine if you performed steadily better at your job for three years, then were fired one day on the demands of some third party. U of M fans want A MICHIGAN MAN, but Rodriguez was never allowed into the club. He wasn’t even allowed to peak in the front door! Now the fans are clamoring for Harbaugh, but all that clamoring won’t land him in Ann Arbor when better prospects are to be had. Will Brady Hoke really be an acceptable Band-Aid, just because he was a Lloyd Carr assistant? Or if he’s hired this week, will we be doing this whole dance again in three years?

Scenarios on the hire after the jump

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Filed under Big Ten, Posted by Sarah, Uncategorized