Going into the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan State was in second place in the Big Ten East and in position to claim first place if they emerged victorious in Columbus. Things finally seemed to be falling in place for the Spartans; they had completed a rain-soaked upset of Penn State despite a three-and-a-half-hour delay and redshirt sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke was hot off back-to-back 400 yard passing games.
Meanwhile for Ohio State, things appeared to be falling apart as they were blown out by Iowa the previous week 55-24. Their fortunes would prove to be much better in the game against the Spartans.
From the beginning it was easy to tell Ohio State wasn’t just looking for a victory— they were out for blood. The Buckeyes dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, which was the deciding factor in the game. OSU’s defense harassed any MSU player that touched the ball and held the Spartan offense to just 1.9 yards per rush, 3.6 yards per pass and a pathetic 15 first downs. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, OSU’s offensive line paved the way for a 335 yard rushing attack that made MSU’s top-ranked run defense look absolutely pitiful. Ohio State made it look easy and they beat MSU easily 48-3.
The fan reaction postgame was, as expected, not great. There was anger, confusion and disbelief. How could a team that just one week after beating the 7th ranked team in the country suffer its worst loss in the Mark Dantonio era?
The beatdown that MSU suffered in Columbus is frankly more of a testament to how good the Buckeyes and Urban Meyer are and less of an indictment on the Spartans. Let’s remember the Spartan team we are dealing with. Despite the success of MSU thus far, the team is still very young and inexperienced. They will get better— it’s just a matter of time.
Even with the loss to OSU, there is still plenty of things MSU fans should be happy with this season. Mark Dantonio has completely turned around team that just a year ago was 3-9, near the bottom of the Big Ten and eliminated from bowl contention to the fringe of New Year Six contention. MSU found the heir to former QB Connor Cook in Brian Lewerke and re-established themselves as one of the best defensive teams in the country for the first time since 2013.
There is still two weeks of football to be played and who knows: maybe MSU, with some help, can pull off the improbable and win the division. But, even if they don’t fans should still hold their head up high and be proud of what this team has been able to accomplish.
Stats courtesy of ESPN