If I had to describe this game in one word, it would be UGLY. As I mentioned in my preview/prediction, this game had the potential to be one of the most boring/ugly bowl games of the year. Unfortunately for your eyes and my own, I was right. TCU got off to a hot start, and had the Spartans down 13 at the half. Mark Dantonio decided to rotate Connor Cook and Andrew Maxwell throughout the game, despite Maxwell playing horrid (as he has for most of the season). But in all honesty I was surprised that coach Dantonio benched his captain at all, I did not think that he had it in him. The Spartans turned it around, scoring all 17 of their points in the second half. Michigan State has Le’Veon Bell to thank, who ended the game with 32 carries for 145 yards and a touchdown. Bell also completed a 29 pass that led to a Spartan score. Despite being completely inconsistent all season, Dan Conroy hit a 47-yard field goal with about a minute remaining to seal the Spartan victory.
3 Thumbs Up:
1. Le’Veon Bell: What more can I say about this guy? He has done everything for the Spartans and without him I have a hard time believing MSU wins any game. He was Boobie Miles Saturday night finishing with 145 yards, a touchdown and a pass completion for 29 yards (AND HE CAN PASS). Like many I believe he should enter the NFL draft, but I suppose only time will tell. He loves Michigan State, but it would be hard for anyone to pass up such an opportunity.
2. Mike Sadler: Yes the punter. He had 11 punts (If you were unable to watch the game, you now know how ugly it was) for 481 yards, for an average of 43.7 per punt. The most important being a 55-yard bomb that was muffed and resulted in a Le’Veon Bell touchdown a few plays later.
3. Dan Conroy: I have blasted him more than any other player on this team, and rightly so. But Conroy went out on top, nailing his only attempt of the night: a 47-yard field goal to win the game. Who actually thought he would make that? I surely did not.
3 Thumbs Down:
1. Andrew Maxwell: The Spartan captain had a horrendous game. He finished 6 for 15 for 28 yard (yes a 1.9 yard per pass average). He was passed over for Connor Cook (a redshirt freshman) on the final drive, and surely will have competition for the starting job next season
2. TCU Drops: And I thought the Spartan wide outs had trouble holding on to the ball. I am not sure how many drops the Texas Christian WR’s had, but it happened A LOT. They dropped the ball on big downs and it continued throughout the game. I almost felt bad for Trevone Boykin, with almost being the key word.
3. Dan Roushar: Does this guy even know how to design an offensive play? We saw it last year and we saw it throughout this season. Some will say that the Spartans had a good offense last year, which they did. But in my opinion it was the players making up for some terrible play calling, unfortunately the Spartans did not have Kirk Cousins, Keshawn Martin, BJ Cunningham or Keith Nichol to make up for it this season. Like many Spartan fans I hope he is fired or demoted, but Mark Dantonio has him under his wing.
Final Thoughts: As ugly as this game was, plenty positives came out of it. For one, there will be a quarterback competition next season. Connor Cook, Andrew Maxwell, Tyler O’Connor and even incoming freshman Damion Terry will all get their shot at it. Secondly, the Spartans won back to back bowl games for the first time since 1989/1990 (before I was born), which is a positive for this program. The win also prevented a losing season, again a positive for this program. The final positive is that the Spartans were able to knock off Boise State and TCU in the same season, maybe that’s more of a moral victory than anything else but I’ll take it. The B1G basketball season starts Monday for the Spartans, maybe that is a positive as well.