Saturday was Senior Day at Spartan Stadium and, alas, it was also the last time in 2016 the “gang” got together for cheer, football, and camaraderie! It was also what would have been Mike Sadler’s 25th Birthday. We’ll miss Mike and another Spartan, Milan Hicks, who died tragically in Alberta Canada.
SpartyMSU’s gang met at the Harrison Roadhouse for lunch and beverages. Win or Lose, Football Saturday has always been a good excuse to get together.
As for football, Saturday was like a lot of other Saturdays this season. The team played hard, but came up short again. However, yesterday’s effort was different. Ohio State knows MSU let the game get away. On paper, the Buckeyes were supposed to slaughter the Spartans. The only thing that was supposed to help MSU save face was inclement weather. Sure, it was cold and there were flurries, but nothing like SpartyMSU remembers from seasons past.
As predicted by SpartyMSU, the team burst through the tunnel with pride and guts (Thanks again Coach Narduzzi). However, the defense was missing some very talented players- Ed Davis and Malik McDowell to name a couple. The official announcement on McDowell is that he has an ankle injury. As one of MSU’s top NFL prospects, no one would blame him if he doesn’t play next week at Penn State- healthy or not. SpartyMSU hopes he plays because the team needs his leadership. But after being double-teamed all year long by the opposing Offensive Linemen, and with MSU having absolutely zero chance at post-season play, he has little to gain and much to lose if he gets injured. Football is a business and he is very talented. He has a promising career ahead of him.
Despite Malik’s absence, MSU’s young guys sacked OSU QB JT Barrett three times and put some pretty good hits on him when he managed to escape the rush. The OSU running game was held in check and, more importantly, the Buckeyes scored only 17 points – well below their 46.5 points per game average.
On the offensive side of the ball, MSU’s LJ Scott had a huge game- 160 yards and two touchdowns. TOC wasn’t beaten up too badly but there were two interceptions. And, both were costly. The final interception sealed MSU’s fate. More on the other interception later.
After interception number one, OSU was unable to move the ball and punted to MSU. With only two minutes-four seconds on the game clock, MSU was down by 1. On the first snap from Center, the ball ended up on the ground and TOC recovered it for a huge loss of yardage. On Second Down, OSU came with a ton of pressure and TOC tried hitting Monty Madaris with a long pass. Monty appeared to be open, but the wind held up the ball and OSU intercepted (2nd INT) and ran the game clock to zero. Final Score: OSU 17, MSU 16.
About the first interception. . . LJ Scott scored on a one-yard rush to bring MSU to within one- 17 to 16. There were four minutes left in the game and MSU decided to go for two. Initially, fans were unsure, but quickly fell in line. The Running Game was stellar! And LJ Scott had just scored a huge touchdown. Momentum was in MSU’s favor.
On a side note, it was 50 years ago that Notre Dame Coach Ara Parseghian “kissed his sister” by going for the tie instead of the win against one of MSU’s all-time great teams. There are no ties in College Football today, but Coach D explained that the coaches and team planned to go for two if it meant winning the game. The team fully expected to get those two yards.
On the two-point try, things went awry when MSU called for the pass play instead. Everyone in the stadium was sure that LJ would get the ball. Instead, TOC dropped back to pass, looked for Josiah Price who was double-covered by OSU, and forced the ball to Jamal Lyles. The ball never made it to Jamal. OSU intercepted. The score remained 17-16.
On the ensuing kick-off, MSU gave OSU good field position. The fans were nervous. But, as stated previously, OSU punted and MSU still had a chance with two minutes left in regulation. Then came interception number two.
SpartyMSU supports the team’s decision to go for two. MSU lost close games this year it was supposed to win. Perhaps, MSU could win one that no one expected it to win. The adage of “play to win” is embraced by Spartan coaches, players and fans.
While MSU was losing to OSU, there was exciting news on the west side of the state. ESPN broadcast its Game Day show live from Kalamazoo where the Broncos are enjoying their best season ever! 11-0. Go Broncos!
http://www.wmich.edu/news/2016/11/36571 (courtesy of www.wmich.edu)
MSU finishes the season on the road at Happy Valley against the Nittany Lions on November 26.