Three Takeaways from Maryland

Michigan State is a dumpster fire after dropping their fifth straight game, this time at the hands of Maryland, 28-17 Saturday in College Park.

This was the Terrapins’ first win over the Spartans since 1950. The win advances Maryland to 5-2 (2-2 Big Ten), while Michigan State is still in search of their first conference win as they fall to 2-5 (0-4).

This is the Spartans’ first five-game losing streak since 1991, when MSU started 0-5 and finished that year 3-8 overall.

Here are my three takeaways from the game:

1. Riley Bullough Not Playing Like a Captain

Three strikes and you’re out.

The senior leader made three crucial mistakes on Saturday that ultimately led to 45 penalty yards and an ejection. He committed three personal fouls that all occurred in the first quarter. His third and final penalty was a targeting call, which proved to be the icing on top of the cake.

These are freshman mistakes, filled with foolishness and ignorance, especially for a three-year starting player. When fans across the country think of a player who was intelligent and played with discipline and patience, Bullough was the first guy to come to mind. Unfortunately, his disappointing first quarter performance completely erased that notion.

These actions are clearly driven behind built up rage on Bullough’s part. I understand that this is a huge letdown season for Michigan State, but this is not the proper way for him to release his anger. He needs to start channeling his anger towards his teammates during practices and games, rather than sacrificing his eligibility and health of delivering late hits.

2. Spartans Revive the Ground Game

Pound Green Pound is making a comeback.

Despite only scoring 17 total points, Michigan State got the rushing attack back on track. The Spartans rushed 44 times for 270 yards (6.1 yards per carry), with running back LJ Scott leading the charge with 128 yards off of 28 carries of his own. Quarterback Brian Lewerke showed off his mobility with 79 yards while running back Gerald Holmes tallying 59 yards.

The Spartans’ sloppy offensive line wasn’t that sharp in pass protection, but the big boys were stout with their drastically improved run blocking. Brian Allen and Kodi Kieler were the head honchos who consistently paved the way for the running backs.

It’s very clear what kind of offensive identity coach Mark Dantonio is trying to achieve, and he’s close to recapturing it. This excellent showing may be a sign of things to come.

3. Another Fourth Quarter Collapse

The Spartans were the kings of the fourth quarter last year.

On the contrary, the main theme for the 2016 campaign is Michigan State’s inability to close out games. MSU was the team to score first in each of their first four losses, but then crumbled in the fourth quarter when it mattered most.

Michigan State nursed a 14-0 lead against Indiana, but the Hoosiers scored three straight touchdowns to force overtime, where they would eventually prevail with a game-winning field goal.

Then, MSU was only down by three against BYU heading into the fourth quarter, but the Cougars outscored the Spartans 21-7 and triumphed 31-14.

One week later, Northwestern pulled away and knocked off the Spartans 54-40.

And now most recently, Michigan State entered the final 15 minutes of regulation with a three point lead, but surrendered two touchdowns to Maryland and were unable to score again.

Is it complacency? Poor execution? Coaching errors? Misjudgment of clock management?

I’m sure they are all applicable. But whatever it is, Dantonio is on the clock to find the problem and get it fixed.

Michigan State will welcome arch-rival and undefeated No. 2 Michigan to Spartan Stadium in a battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy on Saturday.