The Michigan State Spartans back-and-forth battle against the Utah State Aggies, on Aug. 31, ended with Sparty reigning supreme 38-31.
While everyone in East Lansing is worried because the No. 11 Spartans escaped by the skin of their teeth, fans should be excited.
Early on in the season, it can be difficult to evaluate how talented a team is. If a schedule is too easy; filled with blowouts (ex. Ohio State) it can inflate the expectations for a team. The opposite is true if the early season is full of losses against good competition.
But if MSU can find balance of the two winning games against quality opposition, while simultaneously figuring its strengths and weaknesses, it bodes well for the team later.
Even in a game filled with sloppy plays (two turnovers by junior quarterback Brian Lewerke) and penalties (nine for 62 yards to be exact) Michigan State continued to grind until the final minute when this happened:
Another reason for fans to be encouraged is how Mark Dantonio and his staff handled the Utah State’s defense during the final sequence. Dantonio and company took advantage of how good the opposing pass rush was all game with timely runs from senior LJ Scott and sophomore Connor Heyward.
In the last drive, the Spartans ran several plays rolling Lewerke out right with an option to pitch to a runner to his right. While watching the game, it felt like too much, but Dantonio and Lewerke – who finished the game with 23 completions on 33 attempts for 287 yards and two scores – were just taking what the defense gave them. Utah State did not adjust to the option and this led to the Aggies’ downfall.
Lewerke rolled right one more time, sucked in the defense and pitched it out to Heyward. Nothing but the green of the turf and the fans in front of him, putting MSU up for good.
The Aggies pass rush tested Lewerke and the Spartans offense, while the defense struggled to contain opposing quarterback Jordan Love and the no-huddle offense Utah State ran.
But when the Spartans needed a score and a stop, they got it.
With that said, here’s to hoping the game at Arizona State will not make fans sweat as bad as Week 1 did.
Two final takeaways:
Felton Davis III is still a freak with two of his three receptions being highlights of the game. Cody White, who is turning into a premier route runner for the Michigan State offense, finished with five receptions and one score.
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