Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Back from my "bye week": Oregon post-mortem, and the upcoming EMU game

The Spartans had a bye week, and it turned out that I had my own bye week as well. I didn't intend on being away for so long, but so it goes.

As everyone already knows by now, MSU lost to Oregon way back on September 6. I wasn't surprised that the Spartans lost, but I was somewhat perplexed and disappointed with the way they lost. MSU got out of the gates slowly, had a tremendous second quarter in which they took the lead and appeared to have the Ducks on the ropes. This dominance looked like it was about to carry over into the second half, but then the game took an inexplicable and sudden downward turn.

Part of the problem for MSU in the second half was that Marcus Mariota remembered that he is a Heisman candidate and probable first round draft pick, and played like it. Unfortunately, some blown assignments by the Spartans secondary made the task easier for Mariota.

(There is a degree of historical irony in a Hawaiian quarterback wreaking havoc on the Spartans. In the 1950s and 1960s, Duffy Daugherty heavily recruited Hawaii, and had a "Hawaii pipeline" for several years. Players like Bob Apisa, Charlie Wedemeyer, and Dick Kenney--to name a few--were important contributors for the Spartans when Duffy was coach. I have a feeling that if Duffy were alive today, he'd be wondering how Marcus Mariota wasn't wearing green and white rather than green and yellow).

To paraphrase Mark Dantonio, football is about the inches: what team gets them and what team doesn't. MSU had a few opportunities to get those inches, but came up short. Oregon, on the other hand, converted when they had to do so. It all added up to a 46-27 loss.

Beyond the disappointment of the loss itself, what still irks me is the meaningless touchdown that Oregon scored with 1:25 left in the game. The Ducks can't really be faulted, it's not as if they threw the ball into the end zone for the touchdown. It was a simple running play that MSU didn't stop. Still, it changed what should have been a 39-27 loss to a 46-27 loss. (Yes, I know that a loss is still a loss, but perception is reality. Folks will look at that final score and assume the game wasn't as close as it actually was. That could end up haunting MSU at the end of the season).

So now a truly wretched Eastern Michigan football team heads into Spartan Stadium. The Eagles are so bad, they not only were hammered 65-0 by a rebuilding Florida team, but even lost by two touchdowns to Old Dominion. Now I don't know about you, but when I think of Old Dominion, I think of women's basketball and Justin Verlander (who played baseball for the Monarchs). I certainly don't think of football. Well, the Monarchs handled EMU quite handily.

I don't see EMU putting up much of a fight against what should be a Michigan State team itching to get back into action after the Oregon disappointment.

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