That’s right. Michigan State is just one win away from qualifying for a bowl game. Which one does not matter at this point as it is imperative that they qualify so they get the extra practices that non-qualifying teams do not get.
The team that looked like it was turning a corner with a road win at Indiana in which the offense dismantled the Hoosiers defense then suffered back to back losses at home against Iowa (that one really stung) and on the road at Michigan.
This team was reeling, the defense was streaky but still good and the offense looked lost. This continued in Madison, WI this past weekend, with the defense allowing a 90 yard scoring drive then blocking a punt to give the offense the ball at he Wisconsin 11 only to see them go -23 yards on 3 plays and have to punt.
The Defense held for the rest of the game but the offense could not move the ball at all. The same story as against Michigan and Iowa.
The season looked lost. 4-5 was being written into the record books and a bowl game seemed unlikely. However, Dan Rousher started to channel an Offensive Coordinator with imagination as the offense was able to move the ball late in the fourth quarter with a series of plays that most people hadn’t seen out of this team.
The Defense had kept the Spartans with in striking distance and they indeed, were able to strike. Andrew Maxwell completed 8 of 9 passes for 70 yards on the final drive that sent the game to overtime while the team used a play that was drawn up at breakfast on a 2nd and 17 for a 20 yard gain and a first down.
That is the type of creativity and imagination that is needed out of Rousher, do things that no one has seen, do something that utilizes the arm of the quarterback and the speed of some of your receivers. Don’t just try to run to the right, into the line 65% of the game. Le’Veon Bell is the best offensive player, but if no one expects you to complete a pass ever, then you can’t run either.
With the overtime victory in Madison, the Spartans need to win against either Nebraska or Northwestern at home or at Minnesota to make some rink dink, who cares bowl game. But that bowl game doesn’t matter as much as the practices that come with it do. The extra 2 plus weeks of practice this would give the offense will be very important to a team with as much talent as the Spartans.
The Spartan defense will again, only lose a few contributors next year: Johnny Adams, who has had an up and down year but is the top CB on the team, Chris Norman, who started the year as the starting WLB but has since given that role up to Taiwan Jones and Anthony Rashad-White, who is filling in at DT and playing ok.
So, with the Defense mostly intact again next year, if the offense can use these extra practices to develop, Michigan State could be one of the favorites to return to the B1G Championship Game in 2013, much like they were in 2012, only with different results.