Cam’s Corner: Takeaway’s from Minnesota’s dominating win over the Spartans


Quarterback Payton Thorne throws a pass to a receiver in Michigan State’s 34-7 loss to Minnesota on September 24, 2022. Photo Credit: Sarah smith/WDBM

Cameron McClarren, Sports Broadcast Assistant

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan State Spartans dropped their Big Ten opener to the Minnesota Golden Gophers Saturday night.In a game where the Spartans were outmatched, outgained and outplayed, MSU added a late touchdown to avoid being shut out at home, falling to Minnesota 34-7. 

Here are three takeaways from Michigan State’s Big Ten opening loss v. Minnesota. 

Coin Toss

Conventional wisdom suggests that if you win a coin toss in football, you defer to the second half. You do so because most coaches have trust that their defense can step up and stop the opposition’s opening drive. 

For Michigan State, this approach is not working out. 

A week removed from their 39-28 loss at Washington, the Spartans once again won the toss and deferred to the second half. Minnesota took it upon themselves to make MSU pay by going 75 yards in ten plays as Mohamed Ibrahim punched in the opening score from two yards out to make it 7-0 Gophers. 

The Spartan defense continued to be picked apart throughout the entire first half. Minnesota took advantage of having the opening possession of the game and made it MSU’s problem, eventually scoring 17 points and outgaining the Spartans by 265 total yards entering the second half. 

Michigan State was slaughtered in the secondary allowing 268 yards through the air as Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan had all day to throw and wide-open receivers to throw to. It’s a problem that showed itself last week in Washington, but was on full display for 74,587 fans to see.  

Coin toss superstitions and bets are one thing, but finding yourself down in a hole early in games because the opposition takes it upon themselves to find any and every weakness in the defense is a different animal. The Spartans have to find a way to avoid getting down early if they want any chance of winning a few more games in Big Ten play. 

Under (Zero) Pressure

The blame shouldn’t rest solely on the secondary as for the second straight week the Spartans pass rush was non-existent. Minnesota’s offensive line was able to create a solid pocket for Morgan to work with, while also giving Ibrahim plenty of room to run. Ibrahim went on to rush for 103 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown. 

After the Spartans were bullied in the trenches last week, they were thoroughly outplayed on the line of scrimmage again this week: on both sides of the ball. The Spartans could not get the offense going to start the game because they were outplayed by the Gopher defense. The running game suffered immensely and quarterback Payton Thorne could not find any rhythm to start as the Spartans had one yard of total offense through two drives. 

“We just have to execute,” said Thorne about the slow starts. “It’s really just execution and us going out there and putting ourselves in a good situation on third down.”

The Spartans could not get anything going offensively until the second half, but after driving the ball down to the Minnesota five-yard line, Thorne fumbled the ball as Minnesota’s Justin Walley recovered it. The Golden Gophers would go 90 yards in 12 plays to make it 24-0 early in the third quarter. 

The battle for the line of scrimmage hasn’t only been lost, it looks as though the Spartans haven’t shown up for the fight the past two weeks. If MSU wants to be competitive going forward – against Big Ten teams that can exploit its weaknesses like Minnesota did tonight – a drastic change needs to occur. 


Head coach Mel Tucker said that personnel changes were coming ahead of tonight’s game against the Gophers. Even though the inputs may have changed, the output stayed the same as MSU was outclassed in every aspect of the game. 

Michigan State suffered immensely when they lost starting linebacker Darius Snow to injury and will miss starting safety Xavier Henderson for an extended period of time. The injuries continued tonight as both Simeon Barrow and Khris Bogle went down during the game with Bogle going into the tunnel before the end of the first half. 

Though Tucker wouldn’t expressly state it in his post-game interview, there will be plenty of changes on the way. The film will tell all, but Michigan State has found itself in a tough position with losing players to injury and needing to find players that can step up and fill roles on both sides of the ball. 

With Michigan State heading into a tough stretch of games in October, more personnel changes are sure to be on the way. But who and how many changes remains to be the question. The secondary continues to be gashed and the defensive line, after proving to be the nations best through two weeks, has looked lackluster since. On the opposite side of the ball, the offense continues to start slow as Michigan State has dug themselves into early holes for two consecutive weeks culminating in two straight losses. 

The Spartans will be back in action next weekend as they travel to College Park, Maryland to take on the Maryland Terrapins at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.