As I watched the nightmare of the first half unfurl in front of my eyes, I had numerous unhappy and verbally explicit thoughts about this year's football team and how utterly unprepared and uninspired they appeared. I felt better when the team performed more to their capabilities in the second half and escaped Bloomington with a win. Many fewer expletives were uttered in the general direction of my television.
I still don't know quite what to make of this team, but I can't help but assume the rest of the year will be a struggle.
The woes really seem to begin with the offensive line. It needs to either get healthier or somehow improve with the players currently starting. Le'Veon Bell seems to earn every rushing yard himself with little help from the O-line, and there were times I worried for Andrew Maxwell's health and well-being--and this is against INDIANA, with the worst defense in the Western world.
The defense looked ridiculously unprepared for IU's hurry-up, no huddle offense in the first half, but did improve considerably in the second half (or maybe the Hoosiers ran out of gas, who knows?).
The Spartans should be able to sneak by Iowa next week on Homecoming, but after that it looks dicey at best. I have to admit that I think this could be the year MSU's four-game winning streak over Michigan comes to a halt. (The Wolvies were impressive against Purdue, then again who knows how good the Boilermakers really are). Then there is the gauntlet of Wisconsin on the road and Nebraska at home. Perhaps if the offensive line improves, Aaron Burbridge continues to emerge as a legitimate receiving threat, while the rest of the receiving corps improves, the Spartans have a shot at winning two or maybe three of the next four games. But those are a lot of "ifs".
If Dion Sims is out for any length of time, that will add another giant "if" on the already large "if" pile.
This season looks like an inevitable step back from 2010 and 2011. Best case scenario looks like an 8-4 finish and a half-way decent bowl game.