Well, here come the Buckeyes again, whom the Spartans are lucky enough to beat maybe once a decade. Maybe this year it isn't luck that will lead Michigan State to a pair of victories over Ohio State in the same number of years.
Let's get right to it. In all honesty, the story of this game really boils down to whether or not the Spartan receiving corps can catch. The receivers, led by butterfingers Bennie Fowler and Tony Lippett, have proven once and for-all that wide receivers can doom a team all by themselves. Dropping a dozen passes in a game just won't cut it. Even Spartan coaches are exasperated by the poor performance. It is the biggest weakness on the squad, bar none.
The Spartan defense leads the conference in half-a-dozen or more categories, and gave up a season-high 300 yards to Notre Dame. The Spartans defensive front is plugging holes, giving up just 69 yards per game and 2.5 yards per carry on the ground. The defense ain't one-dimensional, as the pass defense is also doing its job, allowing just 48 percent pass completions and only 24 percent third down conversions. This defense is LOADED with talent, experience, great coaching, and even better play-making.
On this team, the doubt is at wideout. It is these numbskulls who keep dropping passes, especially on third down or in the end zone; they're killing drives; they're eliminating any opportunity for Le'Veon Bell to really break out for a killer of a game. OK, against Eastern Michigan, the coaching staff just gave up and decided to just run Bell like crazy. But, against decent teams, there has GOT to be some balance on offense with the pass, and that rests... ummm.... in the hands of the receivers. Youngster Andrew Maxwell has been more than serviceable at QB, and hasn't been perfect but he has been more than adequate. When you hit a guy in the hands, and it is his position description to catch footballs, and he drops them over and over and over again... well it leads to the boo-birds at half time and the torching of the offensive playbook.
The Spartan defense will be able to handle every offense the rest of the way, including the Buckeyes -- they are that good, and that deep. The Buckeye's QB, Braxton Miller, attracts mistakes, and it is mistakes that are exposed and exploited by the Spartan defense. Michigan State's defense will be ready and will come to play. But, the question is... will MSU's offense do its part?
Only if the receivers hang onto the ball. Dion Sims, a giant of a man at tight end, has soft hands and is the go-to guy. But, how often can you depend on a 6-8, 280-lb man whose main task is to bore holes for LeVeon Bell? If the wideouts, those speedy, lanky guys, can hang onto the ball then the playbooks is opened up, drives are extended, gives Bell will have a 100+ yard afternoon. If receivers drop passes.... It will be a LONG day.
At the end of this discussion, the ES, coiffing a pint, listens to an old favorite at the Peanut Barrell and finalizes this conundrum via the prophetic rants of Tom Waits:
Sing along to 'Bad Liver and a Broken Heart' by Tom Waits:
I got a Bad Liver, and a Broken Heart
Them Spartans can't catch though the line plays hard
And, we don't have a passing problem, except when we can't catch a pass
Wish we had BJ and Kirk, they were quite a pair,
They were automatic; now we need a prayer
So welcome to this problematic saga, as Game Day comes to town
We are slumped, chumped, and pissed off at our receiving tools
So let's get these fools off the field, it's our defense that stars
With all our D-linemen and backers, yet we haven't been sackin'
It might be our epitaph, if we can't catch, yeah we have our path but come on and CATCH
Maxwell's a thrower, but he has no great aura
No, the Spartan D is grizzly, it's intimidating as hell,
And some guy's trying to bet on the Bucks,
ES told him to drink to the bottom of a bottle of bargain Scotch
We got us a defense and a team, it's a mountain of a dream,
You can name your offense, go on ahead and try to crack us
I ain't sentimental, being a Spartan is a perma-frost and its purgatory
And hey, what's your Urban story, well I don't even care
'Cause I got my John L and Bobby Williams stories to bear
So, I will see your Hudepohl, and I'll raise you one more.
And you can praise your Braxton Miller, I just can't take no more,
Gholston will douse Braxton's flames... fanned by Buckeye dames,
It ain't like dotting the I
At the end of the day, the Buckeye defense makes us say "who?"
After Le'Veon Bell smashes its line into two
Wiping away tears, the ES sez: Receivers catch a few, enough to move the chains, for the first time this year. Spartan Receivers 16, Buckeye's Braxtons 10.