Michigan State hosted Northwestern with ambitions to end a three-game losing skid. Instead, the Spartans dropped another game by a score of 54-40, which marks MSU’s first four-game losing streak in Dantonio’s tenure at MSU.
Redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke got the nod at starting quarterback, and had a solid start, putting up ten points early in the second quarter. He was also helped with an early pick six by true freshman Justin Layne to make the score 17-7.
However, just as the previous three games, MSU’s offensive success stalled in the middle two quarters. Lewerke was under constant pressure from poor blocking up front. The running game never got going either. Lewerke led the team in rushing yards with merely 30, 24 of which were on one play.
Following a Wildcat safety, the Northwestern offense came into rhythm by marching downfield and taking the lead on a 33-yard field goal by Jack Mitchell. Leading the charge was Wildcat power back Justin Jackson, who rushed for 188 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. The Spartans simply had no answer Jackson’s lethal combination of strength and quickness.
Lewerke was benched in the third quarter and replaced by former starter Tyler O’Connor. O’Connor made the most of his time with 281 yards on 13 completions. He also had three touchdowns, one of which came from 86 yards out.
But as usual, the Spartan offense simply showed flashes of strong play backed by mediocrity. After a medley of impressive throws by O’Connor, the Spartan quarterback suffered two turnovers—a fumble and an interception. They also struggled on third downs, only completing 4 of 14.
Michigan State had their moments against Northwestern. They made a few big plays on both sides of the ball, and stole the momentum. But this was only for brief moments. Whether it was a turnover, penalty flag or blown assignment, MSU could never find consistent success. They shot themselves in the foot too many times.
After another atrocious outing for Michigan State, the Spartans fall to an ugly 2-4 record. MSU still has questions all across the board, from quarterback to the offensive line to defensive line and beyond. And unless they solve them quickly, MSU may fall out of bowl game contention in the upcoming weeks.
Michigan State travels to Maryland next week to battle the Terrapins. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. ET, where the Spartans will attempt to avoid losing five straight.