If you’re a Michigan State fan, sponsor or alumnus, watching the Spartans play can be dangerous to your health.
A rabid Spartans fan is emotionally invested and watching them in the first half of their last two games is harrowing at best and depressing at worst. When you see the opposition lead 6-3 and 17-7 in the first half, bad things can happen.
First it was a 3-3 Illinois team that went into the locker room with a 6-3 halftime lead only to be outscored by the Spartans 23-zip in the second half. Last week, Northwestern jumped out to a 17-0 lead and went into the locker room with a 17-7 lead before the Spartans put together a 28-point second-half performance and a 35-27 win.
So what about the Michigan State players? I don’t know. One thing is for sure: When a sportscaster says he was in the locker room at halftime at the Illinois game and wouldn’t do it again because of what he saw being said, you know the players listened to coach Mark Dantonio and your personal.
The bad news is that Michigan State players aren’t starting games fast. The good news is that they are waking up in the second half and still winning anyway.
All of that may come to a standstill against Iowa. The Hawkeyes (5-2) currently rank 18th in the AP Top 25 poll after losing to the eighth-place Wisconsin Badgers (7-1), 31- 30. The Spartans (8-0) are in fifth place. Ohio State (7-1) ranks 10th, so the Big Ten Conference is alive and well.
Iowa is not easy to convince.
The Hawkeyes can score: 33+ points per game vs. Michigan State’s 34+ points per game. Worse yet, Iowa’s defense is only allowing 15+ points per game, better than Michigan State’s 17+ points per game average. Iowa’s total defense ranks 13th nationally, Michigan State’s ranks 32nd.
Spartan’s ground offense is ranked 28th (getting over 193 ypg), but Hawkeye’s ground defense is 7th in the nation (allowing only 92+ ypg). Michigan State and Iowa’s passing offenses are about even, 34 to 38, and their passing defenses are fairly close, 52 (Iowa) to 62 (MSU).
Pass efficiency? Iowa wins, ranking third nationally, while Michigan State is ranked 11th.
The Hawkeyes have built their national reputation on a hard-hitting defense that takes no prisoners and practices scorched-earth tactics—in other words, ripping and burning the opposition. The Spartans are more of a finesse team, with better balance on offense than defense.
Michigan State must travel to Iowa for this game. Could this be the week the Spartans lose their first game? Quite possibly, though the Hawkeyes have been beaten by both Arizona (No. 15) and Wisconsin (No. 9).
It’s really hard for me to watch the Spartans. I am a graduate of Michigan State University – Class of 1966, before the advent of the internet and technological prompts when the biggest deal was an IBM Selectric typewriter with the ball, it was at least an upgrade to my old Underwood typewriter leftover from the 1940
In the Illinois game with Michigan State down 6-3 at the half, I left at halftime and went to the YMCA to work out for an hour and a half on the treadmill. I decided that I would not see them lose; if they won, it was fine, if they lost, he didn’t want to see it. That day I was lucky, they won with a great comeback in the second half that I missed.
I may not even turn on the TV when they play at Iowa. I’d hate to hex them right now; after all, they are 8-0. Not to mention the fact that Halloween is just around the corner.
Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley