Last week: RB Jeremy Langford ran for 109 yards and scored 4 TDS, while QB Connor Cook went 22-31 for 235 yards with 2 TDS against one interception as the Michigan State Spartans outpaced the high-powered offense of the visiting Indiana Hoosiers, 42-28.
This week: After Sparty put up 473 yards of total offense on Indiana’s defense last week, including 235 on the ground, I assumed that their offense would have no problems whatsoever moving the ball against arguably the worst team in the Big 10, the Purdue Boilermakers. Clearly, Sparty had other plans yesterday, but were still able to leave Spartan Stadium with a grueling 14-0 win.
Michigan State came into the game as nearly 28-point favorites, and for good reason. Purdue began yesterday with a record of 1-5 overall, and 0-2 in conference. Purdue started 2013 by getting annihilated by Cincinnati, 42-7, and before Big 10 play started, were manhandled by MAC powerhouse Northern Illinois, 55-24.
Yesterday’s game was essentially full of almost nothing but offensive ineptitude and no scoring until Spartan senior DE Denicos Allen recovered Purdue freshman QB Danny Etling’s fumble and returned it 45 yards for a score and the game’s first points.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter, when Sparty finally advanced past the Purdue 32-yard line for the first time all afternoon, that Sparty was able to put the game away. On second and goal from the Purdue 5, MSU ran what looked to be an end-around with junior WR Tony Lippett, but Lippett completed a pass to a wide open Andrew Gleichert, a junior TE, in the end zone to insert the dagger in Purdue’s heart, even though there were roughly 9 minutes left in regulation.
Senior QB Connor Cook was okay overall, but had a very rough start. At one point, he had completed 9 of 18 passes for a measly 33 yards. Fortunately for their cause, he did not turn the ball over. More fortunately, the run game was extremely effective. Spartan runners combined for 41 carries for 182 yards. Junior RB Jeremy Langford accounted for 24 of those carries, as well as 131 of those yards. It would have been nice to see this offense carve up one of the worst defenses in the country, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Despite picking up 21 first downs, the unit amassed only 294 yards of total offense against the Boilermakers.
Defensively, Sparty was stout once again, despite Purdue finding success here and there in the first half. The second half was a different story, as Purdue was completely shut down. Freshman QB finished the game 14-25 for 160 yards and was picked off once, by senior safety Isaiah Lewis. A team that started yesterday as one of the nation’s worst when running the ball (76.1 ypg, 119th) didn’t stand a chance against MSU’s run D, as Purdue finished with 66 yards on 34 carries.
Up next for Sparty is an Illinois team that honestly shouldn’t pose much more of a challenge than Purdue did, even though this one will be played in Champaign, Illinois. Illinois has an improved offense under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, but is still otherwise a below-average football team. The Fightin’ Illini have lost their first two Big 10 games to Nebraska and Wisconsin, 39-19 and 56-32, respectively. It’s entirely possible that the Illini could get their O rolling next Saturday, but against arguably the best defense in the country in Michigan State’s, that’s highly unlikely. Sparty doesn’t have the offensive firepower to simply go down to Champaign and blow Illinois away, but they should come away with a rather easy victory anyway. Go Green. Go White.
- Thanks for nothing, Clemson Tigers. Yesterday’s matchup between the third-ranked Clemson Tigers and fifth-ranked Florida State Seminoles was supposed to be the kind of game that would make college football fans finally recognize that the ACC is not a joke when it comes to football. Clemson, led by senior QB Tajh Boyd, began 2013 by knocking off SEC “power” Georgia, 38-35, and was beginning to look like the conference’s best shot at a national title. But, redshirt freshman FSU QB Jameis Winston and his squad had been rolling too, and he and his teammates carried their strong play into yesterday’s game as FSU pasted Clemson, 51-14…on the road. Maybe Clemson was never really this good. Maybe FSU caught Clemson on a very, very, very bad day. Maybe FSU is just this damn good. Regardless, Clemson can kiss their hopes at a national title goodbye and Winston may want to start preparing a Heisman acceptance speech. The two-sport star (RF on the baseball team) finished yesterday with a line of 22-34 for 444 yards, 3 touchdowns and just one interception. I decided to watch to see a slugfest and ended up getting a massacre.
- Ranking? What ranking? Yesterday wasn’t a good day for several ranked teams, especially a few in the SEC. Third-ranked Clemson lost. Sixth-ranked LSU lost. Seventh-ranked Texas A&M fell (albeit to another ranked team). Ninth-ranked UCLA lost (to 13th-ranked Stanford). Eleventh-ranked South Carolina fell in Knoxville. 22nd-ranked Florida will find itself on the outside looking in after getting dominated by 14th-ranked Mizzou. 15th-ranked Georgia will be lucky to stay in the 20s after losing on the road to Vandy. Finally, 20th-ranked Washington, strong defense and all, got crushed by Arizona State on the road, 53-24. Certainly, there will be some shuffling in both the AP and coaches rankings tomorrow. The first BCS standings will be released tomorrow, as well, and a few of those losers will be wishing they had decided to put up a stinker much earlier in the season, or better yet, simply won yesterday.
- Notre Dame vs. USC. Zzzzzzzz…