Last Saturday the Michigan State Spartans finally put an end to their seven game losing streak. The Spartans were able to dismantle the Rutgers Scarlet Knights with relative ease in a 49-0 victory. While, this victory does not mean much in the grand schemes of the season it does help set the table for the Spartans to play spoilers. With the latest College Football Playoff rankings being released on Tuesday night. The Spartans will have the opportunity to spoil the seasons of Ohio State and Penn State who were ranked second and eighth in the latest rankings. Michigan State had their season spoiled a long time ago, but now with the final two weeks of the season against their rivals, Michigan State has the chance to be a spoiler. In order to do that Michigan State will need to be able to recreate the high level of play that they showed on Saturday.
Michigan State Plays Spoiler
For any chance to play spoiler in the final two weeks, the Spartans will have to be able establish the run game like they were able to against Rutgers. Establishing the run will be tall task for the Spartans who will be facing the 12th ranked run defense in the country, Ohio State who allow a measly 111.6 yards per game. However, the task will get considerably easier in the last week of the season when they play the Penn State Nittany Lions who have the 60th ranked run defense in the country. Against Rutgers the Spartans racked up 277 yards on the ground, they will need performances close to this in order to pull the upsets. If the Spartans are going to be the Big Ten spoilers at the end of the season, they need to have a strong ground game because they will need to be able to dominate the time of position to shorten the game. In their win over Rutgers the Spartans held the ball for over 35 minutes, in order to shock the college football landscape, they will need to reach this number again or surpass it.
Extra Possessions, Extra Points
Against Rutgers the Spartans won the turnover battle by forcing Rutgers into two interceptions and playing mistake free football on their end. What’s more important than forcing the turnovers is what the Spartans were able to do with them. The first interception was a pick six from Demetrious Cox, that gave the Spartans a 14-0 lead.
The second interception came by the hands of Montae Nicholson and let to a Michigan State touchdown six plays later. In order to play the spoiler, the Spartans will need to maximize on their possessions and then some. The Spartans have to win the turnover battle and turn those points into touchdowns. It is important to remember that when Penn State upset Ohio State, they did it by capitalizing on an Ohio State Special Teams miscues by blocking a field goal and returning it for a touchdown. Great teams become vulnerable when they lose the turnover battle and those turnovers are turned into points.
Can They Do It?
While Michigan State has under achieved this year, playing the role of spoiler is not out of the question. This was a team picked to finish anywhere between second and third in the Big Ten East standings. They have a very talented roster, but injuries have forced them into playing younger players earlier than expected. Michigan State also has an extremely proud senior class, one that is not used to playing second fiddle to Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan. Don’t expect those same seniors to bow out quietly just because their senior season has not gone as expected.