I'm back home after a long 12-day vacation. Believe it or not, it's good to be back in slate gray, soggy Michigan.
Uptight, uninspired, sloppy, soft. All of these adjectives are appropriate descriptions for the MSU basketball team's 79-65 loss last night to North Carolina.
It was a game that reminded me a little bit of the 2003 blowout loss against Duke at Breslin (which coincidentally took place ten years and one day prior to last night's game): The Spartans finally get a big name, blue blood opponent into East Lansing and completely wet the bed. It was not a good night to be a Spartan.
For whatever reason, Michigan State is snake bit against North Carolina. It's amazing to think that Tom Izzo is 0-7 against Roy Williams. At this point, MSU's perpetual struggles against the Heels seem psychological. Something about the mere sight of those baby blue uniforms causes the Spartans to freeze up and play horribly.
I'm still in a football mood though, and I hope that this Saturday's Big Ten championship game has a better result than last night's horror show at Breslin Center. Nothing would give me more pleasure than for the MSU football team to wipe the smirk off Urban Meyer's pompous face.
I watched the Big Ten Network's replay of the Michigan/Ohio State game, and couldn't get over how terrible Ohio State's defense looked. Now, that's not saying the Buckeyes will play the same "matador defense" against Michigan State, but I don't see OSU suddenly transforming into the 1970s Pittsburgh Steel Curtain in a week's time, so the Spartans should be able to move the ball and score points on Ohio State. If MSU can find a way to contain OSU's offense, particularly Carlos Hyde, who is perhaps slightly more dangerous than Braxton Miller, then victory is certainly attainable. Containing that Buckeye offense will be MSU's biggest test of the season. It's really a matter of "picking your poison" when discussing Hyde or Miller. Both players are dynamic offensive play makers.
Ohio State is the final stop in the "Payback is a Bitch Tour 2013." Time to make the Bucknuts pay for the game they stole in East Lansing last year. I have no doubt the Spartans will, as the cliche goes, "leave it all on the field" Saturday. As long as Jim Delany and his black robed Big Ten minions don't send a decree to the officials to "assist" Ohio State in the game, I like the Spartans' chances.
As far as the conspiracy theories regarding this championship game, I'm happy that this has already been addressed by the media. (Kudos to Drew Sharp, by the way, for bringing this up at the MSU press conference this week. As you all know, I'm not a big Drew fan, but he deserves props for addressing this issue). This places the spotlight squarely on the officiating crew. Any questionable call will be magnified, so the officials should go to great pains to call the game as fairly as possible...or so it would seem.
Where would a win over Ohio State rank in the pantheon of great Michigan State football victories? It's a question I've been mulling over in my head the last few days. Considering the stakes in this game, and the national prestige and high ranking of the Buckeyes, a win in the Big Ten championship would have to rank in at least the top three MSU football wins of my lifetime.