Tag Archives: Kirk Cousins

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

HYPE HYPE HYPE HYPE: Max Bullough Edition

I know that Sarah and I have been largely basketball focused this year on the blog (ok, completely basketball focused on the blog), but it wasn’t because we didn’t care. In fact, we probably cared a bit too much. After the first few games, and especially after the Notre Dame game, we weren’t sure what else we could share or offer to the story.

Obviously things have taken a dramatic turn since then, and what was looking like a dismal season has turned into a run of the ages. A team that was terrifying to watch early on, has turned into a team that is playing for a Big Ten title on Saturday. I don’t think many, if any, saw the Spartans here. But it has been fun, right? I don’t know about you, but I am feeling some type of way about this Spartan squad.

To gear up for Saturday night, Sarah and I are going to post a series of hype pieces…videos, quotes, etc. I have spent an extraordinary amount of time this week reading about the game, the match up, the coaches, the BCS, etc. I feel as though my brain might explode!

Earlier this afternoon, senior Max Bullough participated in a Big Ten Title Game presser and it was INCREDIBLE. He was dialed in and gave, perhaps, one of the best interviews I’ve ever heard from a Spartan. Obviously Kirk Cousins leads the way in greatest pressers of all time, but Max made some headway in the standings.

Spartan Pride, Indeed.

Spartan Pride, Indeed.

Max is Spartan Royalty. His grandfather, father, and uncle all played for the Spartans and his little brother currently plays on the team. Max is exactly the kind of person you want leading your football team. He’s tough, he loves the school, he plays hard every single game, loves his coach, and says all the right things. Today was no exception. Listening to Max and hearing how important the game is to him was nothing short of incredible. If he is an example of how focused the team is going into practices this week, than I cannot wait to see how they look on Saturday.

A couple of highlights:

On what winning the Big Ten and going to the Rose Bowl would mean to Michigan State:

“…to be able to feel that feeling and know what it’s like, to be able to say I’ve done it, to say we brought Michigan State back to where we think it should be, I think that just creates, like I said, a tangible goal instead of just a dream or a vision that’s out in front of you all the time.”

On Michigan State being overlooked and underrated:

“We’re worried about going there and being 12‑1 like Coach D said, and worrying about things we can control.  We can’t control who talks about what, who says this or that, where Ohio State goes if they win or lose.  There’s only so many things we can control, and right now it’s Tuesday’s practice.  On Saturday it’ll be the energy and the aggressiveness and the way that we execute plays.”

On how Michigan State football has changed with the arrival of Coach Dantonio:

“…people look at Michigan State differently today than when I walked in here and when Coach D walked in here. But I think if you come to play Michigan State now, if nothing else you’re coming for a fight.  You’re playing a football game that’s going to be a fight, going to be a battle.  We’re not going to quit.  We’ve got some of the best players in the country on this football team, and we’re excited to be a part of that.”

Why not Michigan State?

“If we come out and win this Saturday, then why not.  Why not talk about us?  What have we not done that takes us out of that argument?  We’ve won just as many games. …and we play some of the best offenses in the country.  We just make them look bad sometimes, so they might not think they’re that great.  That’s the reality behind it.  You know?”

On no suspensions for the Ohio State players involved in the fight during the Michigan game:

“First of all, I’m excited that no one is suspended.  I hope no one does get suspended.  I want to play their best.  I think if we were in that same situation they’d say the same.  I think you always want to play the best. ”

On Big Ten perception:

” I can’t control who likes who, who wants what, who votes for who, who’s voted All‑Big 10, who’s voted this, I can’t control that.  I just can’t.  I can control what I do today at practice, I can control what I say to my team or what my actions are during the weekend and on Saturday, and it’s been good enough 11 times this year, so I’m counting on it being good enough again.”

(Quotes from ASAP Sports. For the full transcript, go here.)

RARRRRRRRRR!

RARRRRRRRRR!

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I could get out on the field and tackle someone right now.

Max Bullough is exactly the type of guy I want representing my football team. And honestly, isn’t that all we’ve ever really wanted? Since the Dantonio era started, I feel as though we finally have guys we can get behind. Kirk Cousins did it first, but Max Bullough is carrying the torch. As Spartan fans, we endured a lot of crazy and finally have consistent guys that we can rally around. Seeing our players look at the coach and believe in him and his system is incredible.

As Coach D has said: Why not us? Why not?

GO GREEN! (Hype, hype, hype, hype)

#chaseit #p4rb #poundgreenpound #youwillbetheones #etc

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Filed under Big Ten, Big Ten Title Game, College Football, Football, Hype, MSU, P4RB, Posted by Sara, Rose Bowl?

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2011 Michigan State Spartans

For the first three years of mine (and Sara G’s) college career, we watched a Michigan State Spartans team that trickled away lead after lead, against Notre Dame in a downpour, against Michigan (again and again and…), against Ohio State, against practically all comers. We saw teams stacked with talent – Jehuu Caulcrick, Javon Ringer, Drew Stanton, Greg Jones, Otis Wiley, Domata Peko – start out hot and find ways to lose. MSU was a team devoid of heart, bankrupt of drive and with no program

We all agree.

culture to speak of.

Finally, midway through the 2006 season, MSU cut John L. “Screwin’ It Up” Smith loose, and went on the hunt for a new coach. When Mark Dantonio was hired, we were skeptical. Things seemed…better? We still lost to Michigan. It wasn’t a great season, by any means, but the footing seemed solid. Looking back, the most powerful moment of that season came when Coach D got into a (since much maligned by U of M fans) war of words with running back Mike Hart. You can watch the video for yourself and see that that’s when Mark decided the Big Ten wasn’t going to have MSU to kick around any more.

After today’s bowl win against Georgia, they don’t. For the first time, the Spartans faced an opponent without an NFL caliber starting lineup in an extremely winnable bowl game. They were the only Big 10 team victorious on New Year’s Day (observed). They did what all of John L’s teams failed to do time after time ; they found a way to win.

MSU’s time under Mark Dantonio has not been easy. It’s not been spotless and it’s not been an astronomical assent. But what Michigan State has built with consecutive double-digit win seasons is a program culture. A culture of toughness, of underdog mentality and of winning despite the odds and against all costs. As stupid and cliche as that sounds, for a team that did not win, no matter what, to turn into the come-from-behind squad they’ve become is remarkable.

The difference is obvious – It’s leadership. From the coaching staff and the players. Michigan State lucked into a remarkable on- and off-field leader in Kirk Cousins for the past three years, and he will be sorely missed in 2012. But the leadership extends throughout the team, in seniors like Trenton Robinson and Joel Foreman, in position players like Brian Linthecum, Keith Nichol, Johnny Adams and Max Bullough.

One final thing to say about the 2011 Spartans, and Mark Dantonio’s teams in general – this defense is not playin’ with y’all. That’s 2011 and 2012 and beyond. Coach D gets defensive lumps of coal and turns them into diamonds (case in point: three-star recruit Jerel Worthy). I, for one, am excited for what’s to come from this team. (more on this to come, obviously)

But most importantly, to Kirk, to BJ, to Keith, to Joel, to Trenton, to all of the seniors who’ve played their last snap in Green & White- thank you. Thank you for giving us a program to get behind. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for your pride and thank you for your commitment. Thank you, and Go Green.

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Filed under Big Ten, College Football, Football, MSU, Posted by Sarah, Recap

Out of the Darkness: The Big Ten Championship

Sarah used that phrase when talking about my reflections of the MSU football teams through the years and I thought it would be most appropriate for this post.

I have gone over what I was going to say about a million times since the end of the game on Saturday. I didn’t want to write something when I was angry; I wanted to be able to sort out my feelings first. Needless to say, it was an emotional roller coaster of the worst kind.

I had the opportunity to attend the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday and it was a ridiculously incredible experience. I must say, Indianapolis put on an incredible show. The city was clean, easy to navigate, and filled with Big Ten fans from every team (yep, we saw all of them…even Minnesota! Dedicated.). I arrived super early (about 11.30 ish) for the 8.17 game. We wanted to do everything and have the opportunity to soak it all in. The first mission? Find Dan Patrick and the Dannettes. I listen to the Dan Patrick show every day. It’s on air from 9am-12pm and it’s the best sports talk show on the radio. They were all going to be there with the Heisman trophy and as people I admire, I was looking forward to meeting them.

We found the Sports Illustrated tent right away and not long after some dreams came true. Below are pictures of me with the Dannettes:

Fifth Dannette?

And my idol, Dan Patrick:

Bang biscuit.

I know that’s not really relevant to the actual game, but they were all super nice and absolutely gracious toward every single person they met. I said this on Twitter, but it’s worth repeating: it’s so awesome to meet people you admire and have them turn out to be better people than you ever could have imagine. Kudos to you Dan and Seton, Paulie, Fritzy, and McLovin. It was incredible to meet you.

Now, on to the less happy portion of this post.

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

Between the hashes: Big Ten Title game

The matchup: YOUR Michigan State Spartans vs. the Wisconsin Badgers

Kickoff: 8:17 p.m., Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

The Line: Wisconsin by 10

It’s now about 12 hours before kickoff in one of the biggest games of the past decade for Michigan State football, but apparently no one told the Big Ten that Wisconsin is already going to the Rose Bowl, because they’re still insisting on holding the game.

Denicos Allen celebrates a sack of Russel Wilson. (Photo LSJ)

In a detail unrelated to any of the football analysis that follows, I got in the car last night and someone on sports radio was talking about how Wisconsin was going to win. Fine. But when posed with the question, “How can MSU pull this off (again)?” said talking head replied with “Well, they’ll have to play good defense, and they’ll have to do it without cheating.” Look here sir. That defense gave up the fewest yards per game in the Big 10. Yes, even fewer than Wisconsin. They had no penalties in the first matchup. Just because you saw a YouTube video of William Gholston trying to give Denard Robinson a Swedish neck massage does not mean Michigan State has a defense full of cheaters. They have a defense full of beasts and head hunters.

On to the matchup! There are a few key points that will determine the outcome of this game, and I’m going to dig into them below. Quick summary: Running game, non-offensive scoring, pass pressure and emotional magnitude.

Key to victory 1: The running game. One thing most people seem to agree on is that running the ball will be of the utmost importance in this game. For the Spartans, this means they need to execute the running game better than they have at times this season and contain Montee “Moneyball” Ball. The key to Michigan State getting some significant yardage on the ground is it’s young offense line, which has recently shaped up into a decent blocking unit. If Le’veon Bell can get in the neighborhood of 100 yards, it should do wonders for the Spartans passing game and offensive rhythm.

On the other side of the ball, Michigan State needs to exploit Wisconsin’s somewhat patchwork offensive line (more on this later). Montee Ball is a strong, tough back, but not extremely explosive and if MSU can take away the inside, Wisconsin will be forced to work him to the edges of the field, where he can be dangerous, but not lethal.

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Filed under Big Ten, Big Ten Title Game, College Football, Football, MSU, P4RB, Posted by Sarah, Rose Bowl?

I got a lot of problems with you people…

…and now you’re gonna hear about it!

The Big 10 Championship matchup has only been set for 12 hours, and I’m already wondering why bother to play the thing, because if you listen to any sports talking head, Wisconsin is already booking their tickets for Pasadena. Never mind the fact that Wisconsin has four losses in the past two seasons, and 50% of those have come from Your Michigan State Spartans. So as we roll toward Indy on Dec. 3, I’d like to sound off on a few talking points already being run to death by sportstalk.

1. Wisconsin will crush MSU, as they have crushed all comers for the past month 

False. Just because Wisconsin had an easy back half schedule and runs up the score like it’s their job does not mean Montee “Moneyball” Hall will be scoring 12 touchdowns against Michigan State, still in possession of the #1 overall and #1 run defense in the Big 10. I would not mind this conversation if anyone paid to talk about sports would acknowledge the fact that Michigan State has a great defense.

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

You want to break your finger?

Just touch my bicep.

It is a gorgeous spring day here in Cincinnati and I decided to share a nice video of a Michigan State spring practice. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was “mic’d up” for a practice recently and gave us a little insight into what he’s like on the field.

I know he will probably get harassed for this video, but I learned a few things.
1. He is quite chatty.
2. He has a decent voice!
3. He has terrible taste in music.
4. He is bad at the rolling drill.

Enjoy!

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Filed under College Football, Football, MSU, Posted by Sara, Video