Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Sunday, January 29, 2017
I don't want to get political here, but current events in our nation have made sports not seem particularly important. At least not important enough to write about.
I am not necessarily putting this blog in mothballs, but I may not write in here nearly as much as before. My impression is I don't have many readers anyway, so it may not matter much to anyone.
But while I'm in here, I may as well acknowledge the MSU basketball game against Michigan tomorrow. It was a game about which I felt fairly comfortable until the Wolverines demolished Indiana by 30 points. I still think that the Spartans should find a way to beat Michigan at home, but it could be a death struggle. I will go out on a limb and predict a 73-67 MSU victory. But if Michigan won, I would not be shocked.
I don't know the next time I'll write in here, maybe I'll surprise myself and write immediately after the MSU/UM game, but I really don't know.
Saturday, December 31, 2016
I suppose the tone for 2016 was set on December 31, 2015, when the Spartan football team was completely destroyed by Alabama in the College Football Playoff.
Though the Spartan basketball team had a reasonably decent Big Ten season in 2016, injuries prevented them from achieving everything they could have achieved, though it's hard to get too angry about a second place finish in the conference and a 13-5 Big Ten record. Though winning the Big Ten tournament was a highlight, the first round loss to Middle Tennessee State brought the season to a resounding thud of an end.
Meanwhile, the Michigan State hockey program is a far cry from what it has been in the past. The team muddled its way to a fifth place conference finish (out of six teams) in the 2015-2016 season (6-12-2 in the Big Ten, 10-23-4 overall). I don't follow hockey enough to know what it is going on under Tom Anastos, but based on the results on the ice, it's not good. Hockey at MSU doesn't have near the buzz it had in the '80s and '90s when the late great Ron Mason was coach, and has even fallen far below the standards set by Mason's successor Rick Comley.
And then there's football. 2016 was a disaster. It was so bad, that the high water mark, the pinnacle, the highlight, came in week two when the Spartans hung on to beat Notre Dame in South Bend. It was a game that, at the time, we thought was a big win. As it turned out, the Irish would go on to have a sub-par season, and the Spartans would only win one more game the rest of the year.
Let's just hope 2017 sees a reversal of fortune for MSU sports.
Monday, November 28, 2016
In what seemed like a fitting twist of fate, Damion Terry was knocked out of the game in the first half after suffering a concussion. Terry was playing his best game of the season, and though it was disappointing that the Spartans had to settle for field goals, Terry was at least leading the offense down the field and looked as confident as he had all season. When Terry couldn't return after getting hit in a helmet-to-helmet collision, I certainly had a sense of impending doom. But then again, the entire season has been about impending doom.
By the time the score was 31-12 in favor of Penn State, I'd had enough and went for a run to let off some steam. By the time I'd finished, the game was over and MSU had lost 45-12.
So the football season comes to a merciful end. I don't have a heck of a lot to add right now, just that this season seems to have mirrored what has been a fairly putrid 2016.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
I don't know what to say about Michigan State football anymore. I watched the entire MSU/Illinois game and I was shocked. Shocked at how anemic the Spartans looked against a weak opponent. Shocked at how uninspired the whole team played after having played a good game against Michigan.
I gave up the opportunity for free tickets to today's Rutgers game. I just can't take this anymore, and I can't become further depressed by freezing in a half-empty stadium watching the Spartans in a death struggle against an equally pathetic Rutgers team.
I don't even know how much of this game I will watch on television. I suspect not much.
I am so out of sorts that I completely forgot about last night's basketball game against Arizona. I'm disappointed that the Spartans lost--I suppose that eventually MSU WILL win again in a major sport--but encouraged by how well Miles Bridges played. This is a Spartan team that is still learning to play together. I assume that once they gel, they will be outstanding.
Back to football, I don't even know if I should give a prediction for today's game. Honestly, I don't have much faith in this team anymore. It saddens me to write that. Just for the heck of it, I will drink a large glass of green Kool-Aid once more and say that somehow, someway, the Spartans actually find a way to win at home today. Final score: MSU 23, Rutgers 20.
Saturday, November 5, 2016
I'm waiting until the last second to publish my weekly Spartan dispatch. The Cubs' World Series championship and this train wreck of a presidential campaign have dominated my attention.
I did take time early this week to watch the BTN replay of the Michigan game. Count me as one of the "sunshine blowers" who was encouraged by how MSU played. I didn't expect the Spartans to rack up 217 rushing yards against one of the nation's best defense (or allegedly one of the best). For the second week in a row, MSU's offense, and in particular its running attack, looked fairly efficient.
The defense, on the other hand, still has issues. Though it limited Michigan to three points in the second half (the bizarre 2-point conversion return for a touchdown doesn't count against the defense), the Spartans couldn't stop Michigan in the first half. They got little pressure on Speith, but even when they did he came through with some great on-target throws. There's not much even the best defenses can do when a quarterback reacts well to pressure.
Like most other fans, I was disappointed in some incredibly vanilla playcalling in the red zone. I don't know why Dave Warner/Mark Dantonio didn't at least try some deception. Josiah Price is one of the conference's best tight ends who has delivered big plays time and time again since 2013 and he was never utilized.
But all-in-all, it was an encouraging performance. If the Spartans can bring just 75 percent of the focus they had against Michigan, they should beat Illinois today by two touchdowns.
So even though my predictions have been terrible this season, I'll call this game: MSU 31, Illinois 17.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
As usual, I meant to get around to this post earlier, but no such luck.
It's Michigan week, and I don't remember a Michigan week with less sizzle since 2006.
We have a 2-5 (0-4 Big Ten) MSU team up against a 7-0 (4-0 Big Ten) Michigan. Two teams headed in opposite directions. One team in seeming disarray and the other playing for a possible Big Ten title and football playoff berth. We MSU fans have become accustomed in recent years to OUR team playing for high stakes and UM playing for scraps.
I don't want to say the Spartans have no shot today, because of course they have a shot. But realistically it's a LONG shot. Much will need to go right for the Spartans to win, and as we know not much has gone right for MSU this season. Even if MSU gets some breaks (recovered turnovers, maybe a pick six, possibly connect on a big pass play to Shelton or Corley) I just don't know if MSU can get enough throughout a 60-minute game.
Maybe MSU's best chance is psychological. UM's seniors have never beaten the Spartans, so perhaps that's in their heads. But I find that hard to believe. The Wolverines have been stewing for a year and change over last year's stunning loss, and with the way they are playing this season they must be brimming with confidence. (We can always hope that they're even a little over confident).
Based on what I've seen from MSU this season, even if they play their best game of the season I don't know if it'll be enough to win. This is a team with an offensive line that struggles to protect the quarterback, struggles to run block, and a defense that can't get a pass rush without blitzing and can't get off the field on third down. Compounding that are the often head-scratching mental mistakes they make.
I hate to do this, and I hope I am wrong, but I will call this one: Michigan 38, MSU 10.