College Football – The Curse is Now Over – Michigan State Avoids Its Customary Late Season Collapse

May 26, 2022 0 Comments

When 16 seniors walked out of Spartan Stadium in East Lansing Saturday after their 9th victory of the year against Purdue, their greatest legacy will be that they were the class that broke the curse-the dreaded Michigan State curse of starting fast and finishing poorly.

Prior to Mark Dantonio becoming coach last season, former coach John L. Smith started the 4 prior seasons at 18-4 and finished at 4-22. In 2003, it was a 7-1 start and a 1-3 finish. In 2004 it was a 4-3 start and a 1-5 finish. In 2005 it was a 4-0 start and a 1-6 finish. In 2006 it was a 3-0 start and a 1-8 finish. That is what is called a curse.

Mark Dantonio started last season at 2-4 and finished at 5-2. The Spartans went 7-6 and wound up in a bowl game. After beating Purdue 21-7 at home Saturday (11-8-08), the Spartans are 9-2. Michigan State lost its opener at California, reeled off 6 straight victories, took a beating by Ohio State 45-7, but has rebounded with another 3 straight wins.

The curse is officially over. Dantonio has changed the culture at Michigan State from “it’s all about me” to “we are one”. He has demanded discipline, focus, performance and accountability. His players now believe they can win, and have learned how to close out a game and win, again, again and again.

The Spartans catch a bye this week and then take on the 7th-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions on the road to end their season. When Saturday started, Penn State was 9-0 and ranked No. 3. After getting upset by Iowa 24-23 in Iowa, Michigan State now has a chance for a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 1990.

The Spartans’ conference record is 6-1 while Penn State and Ohio State are both 5-1, leaving Michigan State a half-game ahead in the standings at the moment. Penn State faces Indiana before its showdown with the Spartans. Ohio State faces Illinois and Michigan to close out its season.

Michigan State is currently ranked 18th in the AP Top 25 Poll. The Spartans have everything to gain and nothing to lose against Penn State as the Nittany Lions are ranked 7th and will be favored on their turf. The Spartans will not be expected to win, and should they win they would gain at least a share of the Big Ten title.

Michigan State (9-2) is not blowing the socks off of teams right now, like Florida, Alabama and Texas Tech, but they will still earn a bowl game of much more significance this year, even if they lose to Penn State as expected.

What has been so interesting about Michigan State this year is that the Spartan defense has outplayed its statistics. Among the 119 Division 1-A teams, Michigan State ranks 75th in rushing defense, 59th in passing defense and 37th in scoring defense. They are ranked 18th in the nation among all teams but are สมัครเว็บตรง ufabet มือถือ not among the top 25 teams in any of these defensive categories.

When push came to shove against Purdue, the Spartan defense darn near had a shutout. Their offense had 4 turnovers Saturday but the defense held tough.

Michigan State stopped Purdue on its first 15 possessions of the game, including a 14-yard sack on a 4th-and-5 at the Spartan 27-yard line, and a minus 1-yard stop on a 4th-and-1 at the Spartan 29-yard line. On its 16th possession, the Boilermakers finally put together a 16-play, 88-yard drive for their only touchdown with 42 seconds left in the game.