Monday, October 31, 2011

Worthy named Bednarik semifinalist

Jerel Worthy got a lot of hype coming into the year and has been somewhat living up to it with his play. As a result, he's one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to the defensive player of the year.

You can read the release here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spartans have a game everyone expected

So many things went wrong. This was just like the ND game, without all the Cousins completions. You can't spin 187 total yards into a good thing. This was Iowa of last year. And everyone saw it coming.

Most blame goes on OC Dan Roushar. It seemed like MSU had found a good flow on offense since South Bend, but MSU reverted back to all sorts of whack. They ran the ball up the middle with Bell well early, then went to Baker wide and Cousins throws. Didn't get that. Also, every pass had to be a bomb, one of which came when fullback Todd Anderson was out wide.

Cousins was atrocious, going 11-for-27 passing with one pick, but his guys weren't open most of the time, and that led to four Nebraska sacks. The Cornhuskers had three in Big Ten play coming into the day. The Spartans came into the day last in the Big Ten in rushing offense and will stay there. Nebraska came into the game ninth in the Big Ten in rushing defense. They'll move up.

I first noticed it against Michigan two weeks ago, but it's like Steve Mariucci is calling some of these plays. Time after time, Cousins threw short of the endzone or first-down marker on third down. And this is because so many receivers are running routes that are designed to go short.

Also, the wildcat. Stop it.

MSU D was strong, but hurt themselves. The personal foul on Darqueze Dennard in the third quarter was a killer, and led to the back-breaking TD for Nebraska. MSU came into the game allowing 222 yards per game, and only gave up 261 to Nebraska, but a team total 9 penalties killed. I counted at least twice MSU jumped offsides on third-and-less-than-five. Again, killer. I don't understand the penalties. The zero-penalty game against Wisconsin is sandwiched between games of 13 and 9.

Team health could be an issue. Travis Jackson and Larry Caper are two players off the top of my head who left the game. Other guys who seemed to get banged up at some point include: B.J. Cunningham. Dennard, Jerel Worthy, Trenton Robinson and more.

Looking ahead. 3-1 in this October is very good. There's going to be a four-way three-way (wtf Iowa) tie atop the Legends division with these two teams, Michigan and Iowa. MSU has the easiest schedule of the four. The game at Iowa in two weeks could determine if MSU heads to Indy or not. For now, they'll have to regroup and (hopefully) have an easy time with Minnesota at home next week.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spartans embark to foreign territory of Nebraska

The last time the Spartans traveled to Lincoln, Neb., it was not pretty.

But the programs are in different positions now, and a stranglehold on the Legends Division is at stake for the Spartans, while a loss would put the Cornhuskers in front.

Here is my story on the first trip to Nebraska for most every Spartan.

Fowler making his way back from foot injury

After missing the first five games with a foot injury, former Detroit Country Day wide receiver Bennie Fowler made his debut against Michigan and was in for six plays against Wisconsin, including recovering the blocked punt for a TD.

He's going to be the go-to receiver next year (with three seniors ahead of him this year), so getting him back into the flow of things will be good for both this season and the next two.

Here is my story on Fowler and where he is at with the foot injury.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cousins named to Scholar-Athlete class

Academic awards in college football aren't talked about enough, in my opinion. So here's one.

Announced today, Kirk Cousins has been named to the National Football Foundation's National Scholar-Athlete Class. The 16 members were selected out of a pool of 127. As part of the honor, Cousins and the other members will be awarded an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship.

Here's some info on the program and class from a press release:

The NFF's National Scholar-Athlete program, launched in 1959, is the first initiative in history to award scholar-athletes postgraduate scholarships for their combined athletic, academic and leadership abilities. 

Each finalist will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship at the 54th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on December 6 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, and one of the 16 will be announced as the 22nd recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. Named in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University, and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal, the award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship. A total distribution of $300,000 in scholarships will be awarded that evening.

And a quote:

"The 2011 National Scholar-Athlete Class represents all that is right about college football," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (Campbell winner) and Eli were NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. "They have displayed the same competitive fire to win in the classroom that has distinguished them as some of the best football players in the country. In addition, each has found time to give back with an impressive list of leadership roles in their respective communities. Our goal in recognizing them is that future football players will be inspired to follow their example." 

That's a lot of dough. Cousins will graduate in December with a degree in Kinesiology. He has expressed interest in a career in medicine, but professional football likely will be his No. 1 goal for now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nichol getting more stares, followers

As expected, Keith Nichol has become a bit of a celebrity since his Hail Mary catch to beat Wisconsin. His family in Lowell also is feeling the love. Here's what Nichol had to say on his life in the last few days.

"It’s been pretty crazy. The reaction from all the fans is just tremendous and you’re really seeing how much football means around here. They’ve treated me extremely well and it’s just been an exciting time. My family is getting flowers sent to their house. I’m asking who they’re from and we have no idea. People are excited about big wins like that. It’s funny. My friends told me to get a Twitter (@KeithNichol7), so I joined that world now. I don’t even know what’s going on in there. I don’t know how to maneuver that."

"I didn’t get any flowers. My mom and dad got flowers. I don’t know what’s going on with that."

Nichol hasn't exactly been the Big Man on Campus, but he is getting noticed.

"Actually it’s not more screaming and waving, it’s just kind of weird stare-bys. People are like, ‘Is that who I think it is?’ That’s been the biggest thing, more than people screaming at me."

The night of the game (or next morning), Nichol said he got back to his place around 1:30 a.m., but didn't get to bed around 5. Even then, he couldn't get to sleep.

"I saw (the game) on and I was like, ‘I lived through it. I’m just going to try to enjoy the moment with my friends and just stay away from it for a little bit. I’ll watch film on it tomorrow. I saw the play over and over on ESPN."

Luckily he didn't need to get back to the football building until 3:30 p.m. the next day.

Notes, video from Dantonio presser

The only news is that C Blake Treadwell and former Novi DE Tyler Hoover will redshirt this season due to injuries.

Hoover hasn't played since the opener against Youngstown State and has been dealing with back/rib injuries. Because Hoover redshirted in 2008, he'll have to apply for a sixth year of eligibility after next season. But because he missed '08 with a shoulder injury, there shouldn't be too much of an issue with that. With the surprising Marcus Rush having a strong freshman season, the Spartans will be loaded at defensive end next year.

In his first season on the offensive side of the ball, Treadwell started the first three games but suffered a knee injury against Notre Dame and will get his first redshirt. Treadwell's injury coincided with Travis Jackson's return, so only the depth of the offensive line has been tested.

--Dantonio was asked about the salaries of assistant coaches and said there is a plan in place to increase them after a university freeze last year. He said MSU was fourth in the Big Ten last year. Increased salaries for assistants is always a good thing, but don't expect the them to get to SEC-levels, which also is a good thing.

--Former Detroit Country Day WR Bennie Fowler played six plays Saturday and the hope is his role will increase. He made his debut against Michigan after dealing with a nagging foot injury.

--Dantonio agrees that the winner of this weekend's game is in the driver's seat for the Legends Division.

--Asked what he has turned his program into, Dantonio's first response was "we'll find out in the next five weeks."

Monday, October 24, 2011

A look inside the AP Poll: Week 9

Ira Schoffel must feel quite validated.

The Tallahassee Democrat reporter has been carrying the torch for the Spartans, ranking them higher than any other voter for the last six weeks. After a thrilling win over Wisconsin, the Spartans are now ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll and No. 11 in the BCS standings.

But that's what makes this week a little confusing. After having them at No. 9 last week, they only moved up two spots to No. 7 on his ballot this week. Maybe Wisconsin wasn't what he thought they were, as he dropped the Badgers from No. 5 to No. 14.

The new torch-bearer is Kirk Bohls of the Austin American Statesman, who moved the Spartans up to No. 5 on his ballot — ahead of undefeated Clemson and Boise State. Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has MSU at No. 7, up from No. 14 a week ago. Lesmerises is back on the Spartan bandwagon. He had them at No. 9 on his preseason poll, but unranked after the Notre Dame loss until the win over Michigan. So that's quite a jump in three weeks.

MSU is ranked as low as No. 14 by Bob Asmussen of the Champaign News-Gazette. Asmussen also has Wisconsin at No. 8 on his ballot after having them at No. 3 a week ago. He moved MSU up from No. 19.

As for local voters, John Niyo of The Detroit News has MSU at No. 8 and Jeremy Sampson of WLIX-TV has them at No. 10.

As always, thanks to Pollspeak

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spartans shut up 'dirty' comments

A lot of it was whining from Michigan fans, but the Spartan football program was gaining a thug-like reputation after the win against U-M.

MSU responded with a penalty-free game in the win over Wisconsin.

Here is my story on the disciplined performance, along with Cousins becoming the winningest QB in school history.

'Rocket' man Nichol changes his legacy

With one catch, Keith Nichol put himself into Spartan football history. Now's he's more than the guy who lost the quarterback battle to Kirk Cousins. 

He's the Rocket man.

Here is my story on Nichol's Hail Mary catch to beat Wisconsin and his roller coaster career.

Video: Nichol talks Hail Mary catch

Friday, October 21, 2011

ESPN 'GameDay' adds to MSU-Wisconsin hype

The first time College GameDay came to MSU, "all Hell broke loose," as Lee Corso put it.

Now coming for the fifth time, expect MSU fans to be better behaved and excited as the No. 15 Spartans clash with the No. 4 Badgers at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The show begins at 9 a.m. on ESPNU and moves to ESPN for two hours at 10 a.m.

Here is my story on GameDay coming to MSU, with details on attending the show and Corso's take on the game.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Big Ten suspends William Gholston for one game

Here is the release from the Big Ten. Quotes below.

Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference office announced that it will impose a one-game suspension on Michigan State University football student-athlete William Gholston for violating the Big Ten Sportslike Conduct Agreement during Michigan State’s game against Michigan on Oct. 15, 2011.

The Big Ten determined that Gholston’s actions at the end of the third quarter of the Michigan contest violated Big Ten Conference Agreement 10.01.1.A.1 - “Striking or attempting to strike or otherwise physically abusing an official, opposing coach, spectator or athlete.” The conference office also publicly reprimanded Gholston for his actions.

The Big Ten Sportslike Conduct Agreement states that “It shall be the responsibility of each member university to ensure that all of its students and all individuals employed by or directly associated with it comport themselves in a sportslike manner when representing their university, especially at intercollegiate athletic contests.”

The Big Ten Conference considers this matter concluded and will have no further comment.

Here are quotes from MSU:


“Michigan State University takes a great deal of pride in vigorously promoting positive sportsmanship,” Michigan State Athletics Director Mark Hollis said. “MSU took this incident seriously, and this was reflected in my attempt to gather, understand and share with the Big Ten extensive information about what likely contributed to the incident. As leaders, we need to ensure that our student-athletes are prepared for these moments and taught how to respond. As all observed, Coach (Mark) Dantonio and his staff reinforced this practice by immediately pulling him from the game and coaching him.

“Make no mistake; there is no place for a thrown punch in a football game. At the same time, it was important to get beyond the two-second video clip. It is critical that we strive to reduce and eliminate the sporadic incidents that detract from the game. In order to do that, we all must understand, be accountable and manage the environment to reduce these types of reactions. 

“We wanted the Big Ten to understand the totality of the situation and that this act does not reflect the culture and values of Spartan Football and Michigan State University. We are accountable for the incident and accept the prescribed penalty.”


"William Gholston is a tremendous and extremely caring young person,” MSU head football coach Mark Dantonio said. “In the heat of the moment, he momentarily lost his composure. Football is an emotional game of split-second reactions. It was an unfortunate incident. We look forward to his reinstatement.

“Our coaching staff and players respect the game, and our players are taught to play the game the right way. This is a physical and emotional game. During the course of a contest, there are individual confrontations that sometimes escalate. The stakes – as well as the emotions – are always a little higher in a rivalry game. We will continue to stress the importance of maintaining one’s composure during the heat of competition.”


“I deeply regret momentarily losing my composure late in the third quarter of last Saturday’s game against Michigan,” Gholston said. “Although provoked, my response was inappropriate. Coach Dantonio regularly reminds us that actions have consequences, and I will be better prepared to handle these circumstances in the future. I look forward to my reinstatement.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Linebackers go from question mark to strength

Losing Greg Jones and Eric Gordon from last year and replacing them with sophomores, the linebacking corps was supposed to be the weak point of the MSU defense.

But Max Bullough, Chris Norman and Denicos Allen are 1-2-3 on the Spartans in tackles and are no longer a question mark on one of the best defenses in the country. And good news: They should all be back next year.

Here is my story on the linebackers and Pat Narduzzi clarifying his comment Saturday that the Spartans wanted to play 60 minutes of unnecessary roughness. Narduzzi also said Saturday that they don't want to hurt anybody. Something that didn't make it into many stories.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Video: Dantonio prepares for Wisconsin, addresses discipline

Inevitable thoughts on Gholston

Statement from AD Mark Hollis:

“The Big Ten has notified Michigan State of a possible sportslike conduct violation. We are in the process of completing our internal review of the matter. We are thoroughly reviewing the entire game and utilizing all of the available resources: coaches’ video from midfield and end zone cameras, TV copy as well as still photographs. Once the internal review is completed, we will forward a written report on to the Big Ten. The conference office won’t discuss a timeline for this process and neither will we.

“We will follow the proper protocol for filing our complete report and not do it in a piecemeal manner through the media.

“As an institution, we work hard at promoting good sportsmanship and I’m sure many of you are familiar with our “Raise Your Shield” campaign, encouraging our fans to honor and respect our opponents. I also know that Coach Dantonio and his staff work hard at promoting good sportsmanship. This is an isolated incident and Coach D and his staff will continue to emphasize the importance of maintaining one’s composure during the heat of the moment.

“As an AD, I take sportsmanship seriously, but it’s equally important for me to evaluate this game and the particular play in its totality.”


I've been debating with myself whether or not this is a big deal. The fact that this happened in the MSU/U-M game surely has blown it out of proportion. But it's a story enough that I figured I should post my thoughts on this once and leave it at that. 

If you've been living in a cave, here are the two William Gholston plays that have been causing a stir, although MSU didn't specify which plays were in question.

The punch was to U-M's Taylor Lewan, who doesn't exactly have the best reputation from even his own teammates and had a little something for Gholston before the punch. But that by no means excuses Gholston for what he did. The punch, by the rules it appears, should have resulted in Gholston being kicked out. 

But it's the facemask twist on Denard Robinson that I have the biggest problem with. Robinson was down and the play was over. That was a cheap shot. But as the coaches have said, Gholston doesn't have a history of this in his short career. He's also a sophomore and not a grown man. He has a lot of growing up to do.

Of course, if MSU commits these same penalties against Wisconsin, they won't win. But I don't expect MSU to do that. Mark Dantonio makes a point to hate U-M more than anyone else and I think it showed in the play. 

Look at the best defenses in the NFL, historically. They cross the line from time to time, but that's why they're the best. It's a physical game and whoever is more physical will win (just ask Rich Rodriguez). The same U-M fans who are ripping Dantonio and MSU are cheering Ndamukong Suh on Sunday. The NFL's meanest players are also some of the best.

As Pat Narduzzi said, they want to rough up and scare the opponent, but not injure them, obviously.

Gholston should be disciplined in some form — whether he's suspended for a period of time or forced to do extra work and community service within the program. I do think the fact that this could be the marquee game of the Big Ten season will play a factor, fair or not. Yes, U-M's Jonas Mouton was suspended a game for this punch. But the next opponent was Eastern Michigan, which makes the decision a little easier.

So we'll see what happens. But one thing's for sure: This has been made into too much of a big deal and it will continue to be until it's resolved.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baker breaks out behind gelling O-line

Edwin Baker is a long way from the 2,000 yards he predicted in the offseason.

Some of that can be contributed to the offensive line struggles early on, as guys moved in and out and got hurt. But the last two games have arguably been the best all year. Although MSU didn't run well against Ohio State, they were effective. More importantly, the Spartans haven't given up a sack in each of the last two games.

Here is my story on Baker's performance Saturday and how the offensive line is playing its best at the most important time. Video with this story is below.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Video: Baker talks Michigan win

Seniors relish four straight wins

Kirk Cousins was a little more animated after MSU's fourth straight win over Michigan. He was in the student section cheering with the fans and holding up four fingers like many of his teammates.

In the postgame press conference, he was firm when stating he and the MSU seniors would be able to walk the streets of Michigan with their heads held high.

Here is my story on the seniors, along with notes on the penalties, the wind and the new jerseys for each team.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Players make MSU/U-M rivalry

It seems this game has become an afterthought this week with the Tigers and Lions grabbing the headlines.

Mark Dantonio made the rivalry personal when he came to MSU. Brady Hoke is doing the same at Michigan. But neither played in the game. As Dantonio said Tuesday, the rivalry is about the players.

Here is my story on the players who will be between the sidelines Saturday and their thoughts on the game.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A look inside the AP Poll: Week 7

Finally the Spartans have cracked the Associated Press Top 25 Poll.

MSU is at No. 23 after being the first team out for three straight weeks. The moved up one spot to No. 19 in the Coaches Poll.

Twenty-four of 59 voters who turned in ballots still have MSU unranked. Despite not playing, Ira Schoffel of the Tallahassee Democrat and Kirk Bohls of the Austin American Statesman both moved the Spartans up to No. 12 on their ballot. No other voters have MSU higher than No. 16.

While MSU is the only extreme ranking on Bohl's ballot, Schoffel still has three other teams in extreme rankings, including this week's opponent, Michigan, at No. 9.

U-M is No. 11 in the AP Poll, and the majority of voters have them from No. 10 to No. 12. They may seem overrated, and Brady Hoke is saying as much, but polls are relative, and they haven't lost, so there's not much else you can do.

How important are polls at this point? Well, MSU is a favorite on Saturday, so that should tell you. You can be upset about the poll right now, but it will all play itself out. If MSU thinks it's better than No. 23 and that U-M is worse than No. 11, then they can go prove it this weekend. It should be a fun game. I know I'm excited.

As for local voters, both Jeremy Sampson of WILX-TV and John Niyo of The Detroit News have the Spartans at No. 22.

As always, thanks to PollSpeak for the great site.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dantonio receives new contract from MSU

MSU may not be playing today, but they're still making some news. MSU announced a new contract for Mark Dantonio today. I'll spare you all the release quotes, which can be seen here.

Here are the details of the contract from MSU.

Fifth-year Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio, who led the Spartans to a school-record 11 wins last season and a share of their first Big Ten Championship in 20 years, has been rewarded with a new contract, according to a joint announcement made Saturday, Oct. 8 by MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis and MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. Over the last two seasons, Michigan State has won 15 of its last 18 games.

The length of the contract remains the same as the previous agreement – a five-year roll over deal. Under the new terms, his base salary increases from $618,000 to $650,000. Some of Dantonio’s performance incentive bonuses have been restructured, including the addition of a $100,000 bonus for winning the Big Ten Championship Game. The payout date of his $2 million contingent bonus has been move up two years, from 2016 to 2014. In addition, Dantonio has been presented with the opportunity to work for the Athletics Department for two years after he retires from coaching, and the buy-out provisions of the contract have been modified.

Under terms of the new contract, Dantonio’s annual compensation increases from $1.8 million to $1.83 million.

Here are the annual compensation components of the new contract:

• $650,000 base salary
• $869,000 supplemental income
• $100,000 shoe/apparel agreement
• $200,000 contingent annual base
• $13,000 benefits

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bye week coming at ideal time for Spartans

After a tough win at Ohio State, MSU's bye week will be used to rest before preparing for the next stretch of games, which includes three straight against ranked foes.

Here is my story on MSU's bye week and what Dantonio wants from his team during the week. Dantonio emphasized that he didn't want the Spartans to get too jacked up for Michigan and then be out of gas by the time the game comes.

Also, getting fitted for the Pro Combat gear and a Bennie Fowler update.

Denicos Allen: The Waterboy

If you haven't seen this, it's one of the coolest sports photos I've seen in a while. On the play, linebacker Denicos Allen jumped over the Ohio State running back and sacked quarterback Joe Bauserman on the way down.

Via Getty Images

That was very Bobby Boucher of Allen. Boucher, you know, The Waterboy.

Well, as it would turn out, the Spartans watched the movie the Friday before the game. The Spartans have a voluntary movie the night before each game. Given a choice of four movies last Friday, the Spartans chose The Waterboy. First Little Giants, now this.

From Wednesday's Dantonio presser:

So that picture just depicted exactly what he did. It was a great movie for our guys. They had fun with it. Even at halftime I just said, `Hey, visualize and attack, just like in the movie.' And there goes Denicos flying over the running back and hitting the quarterback. That one will probably go down as a little memento for all of our guys.

It was a good feeling. It was a good feeling going into the game. It was a good feeling Friday night. We were focused, we knew what we were supposed to do, played with a lot of enthusiasm, and it was fun. And I think going into the game we were going to make it fun, and I think that's what we have to do.

Some of this can wear you down. The pressures of this game, regardless of what position you play, I think can wear you down as well as being a coach. My wife always tells me, `Hey, you need to have fun with this sometimes.' You can tell I'm on the sideline and really having fun a lot. But I think she's right, and this needs to be... this is a game, and we need to continue to try and find ways to make it fun for our players, so that was one of the ways we did it.

So that picture that you're talking about, is that the one you're talking about when he's flying over the guys? That will probably go up, we'll have a little caption underneath it, "The Waterboy," and it'll be hanging somewhere around here.

Video: Dantonio talks bye week

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A look inside the AP Poll: Week 6

Getting closer, but not really.

After an ugly, but important 10-7 win at Ohio State this past weekend, many MSU fans figured the Spartans would be back into the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. Nope.

The Spartans are the first team outside the top 25 for the third straight week, although the individual ballots have increased for MSU. (MSU moved up to No. 20 in the Coaches Poll)

Exactly half of the AP poll voters have MSU ranked. Ira Schoffel of The Tallahassee Democrat continues the carry the torch for the Spartans, putting them at No. 13 on his ballot, up from No. 17 last week. As was the case last week, Schoffel's ballot is all over the place, with six teams either in "extreme" positions — too high or too low.

Kirk Bohls of the Austin American Statesman also has MSU at No. 13, shooting up from No. 22 last week.

As for why MSU didn't jump into the poll, only two teams fell out: South Florida after its loss to Pitt, and TCU, which lost to SMU. The two schools that jumped over MSU were Auburn after its win at then-No. 10 South Carolina and Kansas State after its win over then-No. 15 Baylor, so there should be no qualms there. If you want to argue 2-2 Texas A&M shouldn't be ranked with two losses, that's another issue.

The wide-ranging votes on MSU — from No. 13 to unranked — show just how uncertain people are on the Spartans. MSU looked very good on Saturday, but how much of that was because of a bad Ohio State team?

MSU will have its chance to prove itself coming up. There is a very real chance the Spartans could host top-10 teams in back-to-back weeks with Michigan and Wisconsin. And that's before a trip to Nebraska. I said it last week and it remains true, the next few weeks could really shift MSU's poll position.

As always, thanks to Pollspeak for the great website.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thoughts on win over Ohio State

I'm sure fans wouldn't mind if Mark Dantonio held players from the media for the rest of the season after the focus they played with today.

Dantonio got his "program win," even if it was ugly. For the Ohio native Dantonio and his 24 Ohioan players, Saturday's game was more than just a win, it was a statement to show the homestate Buckeyes what they missed out on. B.J. Cunningham and Jerel Worthy, two Ohio natives who weren't recruited by Ohio State, made their statement.

Going into a bye week, the Spartans will be allowed to enjoy this one for more than 24 hours, then it's moving on to Michigan (and the Pro Combat jerseys). Now, thoughts on the game.

Wow. I've never seen a better defensive performance from an MSU team. Yes, Ohio State's offense isn't exactly electric, but the Spartans completely dominated the OSU offense — especially the offensive line. The defensive line did a great job of staying in their gaps and the linebackers reaped the rewards. A school record nine sacks, five of which came from Chris Norman, Denicos Allen and Max Bullough.

Earlier in the week, I wrote for MLive about how the championship-caliber defense Mark Dantonio wanted to hang his hat on is coming into form. I haven't looked at the stats, but I think MSU should come out of this still leading the nation in total defense, as they gave up just 178 yards to the Buckeyes.

Miller could rarely look down field at his receivers because he was looking at his protection all day. He had -27 rushing yards, which is a promising sign, as MSU's next three opponents having mobile quarterbacks, and two of them are run-first.

I've said it before, but MSU's front four is playing elite. Will Gholston finally got his sack, but he played like a star, living up to that five-star billing.

I will never understand why Narduzzi blitzed at the end, which led to Ohio State's touchdown. But overall, a great gameplan from him.

The offensive line didn't look horrible. MSU didn't run for much (71 yards, 2.3 ypc), but they didn't allow any sacks. Still a lot of things to work on, but overall, it wasn't a discouraging performance against a talented OSU offense.

B.J. Cunningham had his coming-out moment. The nation got to see just how good he is. The only reliable receiver out there, Cunningham left a lasting impression on his native Ohio after grabbing nine balls for 154 yards and an early touchdown that proved to be monumental.

Kirk Cousins played like Brian Hoyer. Cousins went 20-for-32 for 250 yards and a touchdown, but it felt like every incompletion was a back-breaker. He also had two interceptions. The first was a little unlucky on a tipped ball, but the second was both a terrible decision and a terrible throw.

He's been getting nervous in the pocket because of all the hits he's been taking, but there was no excuse for some of the throws he made. Also, that fumble was ridiculous. Tommy Rees-esque. But not being able to fall on it was another killer of a play. He has to play better.

People's expectations seem to be rising. I was amazed at the amount of MSU fans complaining on Twitter after the game. A win in Columbus is a win in Columbus. Yes, it was the worst Ohio State team in a while, but don't discredit what MSU was able to do. I think it was a mix of fans being greedy, but also, fans expect MSU to win games which it dominates. The Spartans will learn from this game in both the short-term and long-term, which is why it was a "program win."

This win was big for many reasons. First, getting the Ohio State monkey off the program's back. Second, with tough schedule coming up, the Spartans have some momentum.

Now, it's baseball time.