Several Michigan players have referred to Michigan State as the “little brother” of the Wolverines over the years, but Ambry Thomas has a different label for the loser of this year’s rivalry game.
Thomas, a junior defensive back, said this week that Saturday’s game is “about who’s the big brother and who’s the little sister in this state.”
Ambry Thomas on UM-MSU: “It’s about who’s the big brother and who’s the little sister in this state. That’s what it’s really about. We plan to give them our all just like they plan to give us their all."
— angelique (@chengelis) November 11, 2019
Michigan is the better team on paper, as they are ranked No. 14 in the nation and have a 7-2 record compared to Michigan State’s losing record of 4-5. However, records don’t matter when two big in-state rivals get together. Michigan and Michigan State have brought us some of the most wild plays in college football history over the years, so either team could end up being the “little sister” this year.
Brian Lewerke threw a costly pick-six in Michigan State’s loss to Illinois on Saturday and probably should not have been in the game.
The Spartans were up 28-3 in the first half and blew the game, losing 37-34. With his Spartans up 31-24 and under 10 minutes left in the game, Lewerke rushed for three yards on a second down play. He was kneed in the head on the play and a teammate called to the sidelines for a replacement, but his gesture was ignored.
Lewerke is hit in the side of the helmet by defender’s knee and looks dazed. He throws an interception the next play. pic.twitter.com/8qkZVlXXRt
— SpartanCenter (@SpartanCenterig) November 10, 2019
Lewerke remained in the game and threw an interception that was returned 76 yards for a touchdown on the following play, making it 31-30.
Lewerke stayed in the game on the ensuing possession, and the Spartans kicked a field goal to extend their lead to 34-30. They ended up losing 37-34 on an Illini touchdown with five seconds left.
The pick-six seemed to swing the game, and based on the hit to the head Lewerke took, Michigan State should be questioned for leaving him in the game.
For the third time in the last four years under Mark Dantonio, the Michigan State football program is treading water. It has raised some question whether Dantonio’s job is safe, but according to athletic director Bill Beekman, that’s not even a question.
Beekman was adamant that Dantonio would remain the coach into 2020 despite his recent struggles.
“That is not even a discussion,” Beekman said, via Mark Johnson of the Lansing State Journal. “Mark’s our head coach, there’s no question about that.”
Since making a maiden trip to the College Football Playoff in 2015, the Spartans are 26-22. 10 of those wins came in a successful 2017 campaign. The 2019 season is shaping up to be another lost cause, with the Spartans losing three in a row after a 4-1 start, having been outscored 100-17 by Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State. Dantonio has also been named in cover-up allegations about the sexual assault scandals that have rocked the school for the last several years, and is a defendant in a federal lawsuit alleging wrongful termination of an assistant.
Ultimately, Dantonio is the winningest football coach in school history and has three Big Ten titles to his name. That’s brought him significant goodwill at the university, and it will probably take more than a couple mediocre seasons for this to become a realistic question.
Michigan State blew their game at home against Arizona State on Saturday largely because of a 12 men on the field penalty.
The Spartans were up 7-3 on the Sun Devils but allowed ASU to score a touchdown in the final minute. Michigan State, whose offense had mostly been missing for the game, rose to drive down the field in the final 50 seconds. They got the ball to the Arizona State 24 and had kicker Matt Coghlin attempt a 42-yard field goal. He made it, but the kick was erased because of a 12 men on the field penalty.
MICHIGAN STATE HAD 12 ON THE FIELD!!!!! pic.twitter.com/n262wrw7mT
— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) September 14, 2019
Michigan State was pushed back five yards, and you can guess what happened — Coghlin hooked the next kick and the Spartans lost 10-7.
Michigan State fans couldn’t believe it.
— Ben McGreevy (@McGreevyBen) September 14, 2019
— (@King_David_Ja) September 14, 2019
Michigan State made the FG but had 12 men on the field, they had to try again to tie the game and they miss, Arizona State wins. pic.twitter.com/HkJiWZhzTA
— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) September 14, 2019
This is the second year in a row that Michigan State has lost to Arizona State.
The Spartans actually put up 404 yards but were penalized 10 times for 91 yards and lost a fumble. That’s enough to give the game away. That, and a pathetic too many men on the field penalty did it.
- Michigan State Football
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane were thoroughly beaten by Michigan State 28-7 in their season-opening game Friday night, though the final score does not indicate the level of domination.
Tulsa was held to a school-record low -73 rushing yards. That’s not a typo. They went almost three-quarters of a field backwards in the game. They only offset that amount with 153 passing yards. Their 80 net total yards gained was their lowest since 1987.
Final: Michigan State 28, #TulsaFB 7. Hurricane sets a program record with negative-73 rushing yards and is limited to 80 total yards for its lowest offensive production since 1987.
— Kelly Hines (@KellyHinesTW) August 31, 2019
On the other end, the -73 rushing yards was a school record for Michigan State’s defense as you would expect.
So how does a school end up with -73 rushing yards? Well, in college football, sacks count against a quarterback’s rushing stats. Beyond their -32 rushing yards from their quarterback, Tulsa had a few botched snaps including one that went for a safety that also contributed to the low rushing stats.
Another bad snap by Tulsa and this one ends up in a safety! Michigan State up 15-0 pic.twitter.com/2GiwdKKo3f
— #FlashSZN (@ftbeard_17) August 31, 2019
As ugly as -73 rushing yards is, it still was a long ways away from the record low.
Tulsa's -73 rushing yards tonight set a program record, but came up shy of the FBS record. Northern Illinois moonwalked -109 yards on 33 carries against Toledo in 1967 (and lost 35-0).
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) August 31, 2019
Michigan State looks like they will have some neon in an alternate football uniform this fall.
Andrew Lind of SportsLogos.net shared an image on Twitter Friday of a Spartans football helmet that he says will be part of a neon green accented alternate uniform. He says the uniform could be unveiled this weekend.
Multiple sources have told me Michigan State will wear a neon green-accented alternate uniform this fall, which may be unveiled as soon as this weekend’s spring game. pic.twitter.com/mweLFSX4wW
— Andrew Lind (@AndrewMLind) April 12, 2019
When alternate uniforms or new designs and logos leak, they tend to be accurate. Sometimes teams leak them on purpose to test the fan reaction.
The reaction to these uniforms are not positive so far. Many associate the neon with the Oregon Ducks but note the Spartans’ offense does not have the same flash as the Ducks.
- Michigan State Football
Some bowl games simply mean more than others, and some teams have had to deal with more chaos on and off the field this season than others. That all culminates during bowl season, when several teams will compete in non-playoff bowls simply for bragging rights and a victorious end to the season.
For some teams, this means more. Outgoing coaches, momentum for the future, and a silver lining to a disappointing season are all potential incentives for teams contesting these games. We’ve excluded the two College Football Playoff semifinals, as the incentive for victory there is quite obvious, but the other games have their fair share of storylines as well. Here are ten teams that could really use a bowl win to cap off their season.
10. Kentucky Wildcats
The Wildcats can be pretty satisfied with what they’ve done this season no matter how the Citrus Bowl goes for them, but a win over Penn State would be an excellent way to cap off the year. Kentucky would get to ten wins if they can win this game, the first time the program will have done so since 1977. They probably should have gotten there already, but an upset loss to Tennessee made the task harder than it had to be. They’d hate to miss out on that landmark on account of that defeat.