McRae: Loss to Michigan the turning point

Alex McRae, Football beat reporter

ANN ARBOR — The Michigan State Spartans made the semi-annual 65-mile pilgrimage east to take on their bitter rival, the Michigan Wolverines. Over 111,000 braved the brisk November air to watch 14th ranked Michigan roll over their detested rival 44-10 in a game that wasn’t close after the 1st quarter.

Michigan State came into this one on the heels of a four-game losing streak, with the future of their head coach, and in turn their entire program, very much in question. Head coach Mark Dantonio had endeared himself in the hearts and minds of the Spartan faithful by winning games like this one.

The hatred for Michigan is palpable in East Lansing, and a season can never be truly successful without a victory over the Wolverines. Alas, following the blowout this afternoon, Dantonio is winless in his last two and has won only one of the last four.

Much like the game in the Horseshoe against Ohio State, Michigan State started out hot, forcing a three and out and scoring the opening touchdown not long after. The early success would not last, however, as the turning point in the game came after a 20-yard completion to Cody White. 

Two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls on the same play, one on White and one on left guard Luke Campbell, moved the Spartans from the Michigan 37-yard line all the way back to their own 33-yard line.

Michigan went on to force a Jake Hartbarger punt that was downed inside their own 2-yardline. After Michigan State successfully flipped the field, Michigan proceeded to march on a methodical 98-yard scoring drive that resulted in 6 points and the lead.

From the 9:50 mark in the 2nd quarter until the 12:15 mark in the 3rd quarter, Michigan outgained the Spartans in net yardage 205-0. During this time, Michigan stormed out to a 24-7 lead and never looked back, scoring on seven consecutive offensive possessions.   

Following this embarrassing defeat, the Spartans fall to 4-6.  Mark Dantiono is on pace for his 2nd worse finish in his 13-year coaching career. The Spartans were beaten thoroughly by a team that was superior in every aspect. Injuries aside, this Michigan State coaching staff should be ashamed of the product their team has put on the field the last two years.

They have been timid and cowardly ever since they were embarrassed back in 2015 in the College Football Playoff. Alabama seemingly took a team that had held each other accountable and played with grit and neutered it. Since that game, Michigan State is now 24-25 and 15-20 in Big Ten play.

If the winds of change don’t blow in soon to East Lansing, Spartan fans can get used to results like this one. Mark Dantonio’s lack of ability to adapt to the current age of college football was put on full display today, and Michigan made the Spartans look like their “little brother.”

Alex McRae is a columnist for Impact89FM.