Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My afternoon at Spartan Stadium: (Northwestern 23, Michigan State 20)

First the good news about yesterday's excursion to MSU and the Spartan football game: The weather was perfect for a mid-November Saturday: Sunny, temperatures in the low fifties. Our seats, purchased weeks ago through StubHub, were pretty darned good for the ridiculously low price I paid for them. We were in Section 3, Row 32 on the east side of the north end zone.

We had a pleasant walk from the northwest corner of campus, past Kellogg Center, over the foot bridge crossing the Red Cedar, and cutting through the gauntlet of tailgaters crowding Jenison Fieldhouse on the south side of the walkway and the athletic fields on the north side. As we approached the north side of Spartan Stadium, the Spartan Marching Band was just approaching the tunnel. Our timing was perfect. I took this snapshot with my phone camera:

The Spartan Marching Band's consistent excellence is the one thing that can be counted on even when the football team is mediocre or bad...and this year's team is definitely mediocre.

I wonder if the football gods are now cursing us after two consecutive 11-win seasons.

I really didn't get too emotionally invested in this game, and never really expected MSU to beat Northwestern. However, the Spartans once again had plenty of opportunities to make the crucial plays necessary to win, but could not execute. It's the story of the season.

A few observations from the game:

The turnout was better than I expected. It was a late arriving crowd, as many of them were no doubt enjoying the sunny and warm for November weather, but by the midway point of the first quarter, I estimate a crowd hovering around 70,000. The fans were also into the game and behaved well, reserving most of their ire for the for some questionable officiating [doesn't that sound familiar?] at various points in the game.

I haven't been one of those fans demanding the firing of Dan Roushar, but I had to question MSU's 4th and goal playcall in the first quarter. It was the play immediately after Le'Veon Bell's run to the goal line where it appeared to everyone, except the officiating crew, that Bell had scored a touchdown. On the very next play, Bell ran again and was caught in the backfield. Neither Northwestern nor the 70,000 or so fans were fooled by the play. A play action pass or naked bootleg may have worked--but that's being a Monday morning quarterback.

I still can't believe MSU was winless in Big Ten home games this season.

DeAnthony Arnett made one great catch in the game, then disappeared for the rest of the day. His season has been just one mystery for what has proven to be a baffling year for MSU football.

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