The State Report: Is This Sparta???
Ahhh, where do I start? Unless you've been living under a rock, Michigan State's football program has lost 3 consecutive games. 2 to unranked opponents and whether unsure or unfair to judge: it seems that in week 4 Wisconsin took their... well... pretty much everything away from them. Was it something to come regardless of Wisky's exposure of MSU? Perhaps. Or maybe Michigan State was ranked too high to begin with considering where they finished last season instead of looking ahead to what pieces East Lansing actually has returning. Sound familiar? 'It should' says the guy who believes more in the eye test and evaluation versus the number that some random guy who blogs in his mother's basement puts next to a school's sports program. Another reason as to why preseason rankings DO NOT matter.
Nonetheless, last week I proposed the question to the Spartan faithful: Is it time to press the panic button? That answer has become much more simple and clear after the past few weeks and to many, it just may surprise you a bit. The short answer is no. Why so? If SpartanNation had dreams and aspirations to return to college football's 2nd consecutive (and 3rd annual) prestigious playoff, fortunately for some and unfortunately for others, we've just witnessed that crumbled up and thrown in the wastebasket. Furthermore, Mich St. fans seem very hard to come by nowadays and could be seen wearing concession stand popcorn bags over their faces in public. Take this time out to get a very good idea as to who the REAL Michigan State fans are because those who are still wearing their green as if it's St. Patrick's Day, flags still flapping in the wind down I-96 and reppin' Sparty loud and proud, are few and far between yet still stick out like a sore thumb.
Let me say this, it isn't the end of the world people. Mind you, there's still plenty of football yet to be played. And although the struggles have been a bit frustrating and real, truth of the matter is: I'm afraid many fans representing MSU have become a bit spoiled by recent success. You can thank Mark Dantonio for that. Over the years of watching Sparty on the gridiron I've learned quite a few different things. One of them being to never ever count out a Mark Dantonio coached team. I've seen him coach up the 'Little Giants' play to defeat Notre Dame (the night of the heart attack). I've also seen the comeback and debut of Connor Cook vs. TCU in the BW3 Bowl in Tempe, AZ. From Kirk Cousins to Keith Nichol hail mary passes to fending off gritty defensive battles vs. Stanford in Cali returning to Pasadena's Rose Bowl for the 1st time in program history in over 25 years. From trailing UGA in the Outback Bowl 16-0 at the half all to comeback and win in 3OT 33-30 on a blocked FG then down 3 TD's in the 4Q to Baylor and storm back for a win in the 'Great State of Texas'.
But this is the 'Great Lakes State' and reality is beginning to set in because MD doesn't assess that same type of talent that put those numbers on the board to give an opportunity to achieve such goals which also needs to be OVERstood. Ahhh, how fast we forget the days of Rich Homie Quan in the locker rooms and wherever that fire has been, it needs to return... QUICKLY!!! Just where it seems it typically likes to be, Michigan State is once again the underdog and hunter looking to play spoiler to most notably it's rivals (which is extremely possible) but before looking ahead and looking to do so, a date with Northwestern lies ahead this upcoming weekend and remember, there will be no breaks and easy rest stops of bye weeks ahead so everything will be full speed ahead.
Northwestern, whom fairly impressed in defeated of a 'pretty good' (at least we thought so at season's beginning) Iowa team last week on the road which is hardly ever easy for anyone. Maybe Iowa isn't who many thought they were but let's face it, this is a pretty damn good win for a private school more known for it's academics than it's athletics. And for the record, this too will be no easy task for State. Following will potentially be another test during a night game at 1-loss Maryland. How good are they? Who knows? How good is the Big Ten Conference as a whole? Maybe the best. Maybe not. All we know right now is that Mich St. is making it's own look rather bad but 1 thing about Spartans is that they never ever stop and give in, nor throw in the towel. They'll continue to fight and claw and compete but will it be enough to bring W's?
Tate's Take: As of late many predict that the same team that has lacked impression all of 2016 will miss the bowl season altogether. I'm not sure that I would go that far but I will say as much to say that the team will likely be in a cozy-like setting with their families around the fireplace watching the ball drop on TV on New Year's Eve to bring in 2017. That likely won't surprise anyone. It wouldn't surprise me... and neither would a huge upset thanks to the combination of underestimation + Mark Dantonio's old tricks. No need to leave a score prediction or projection. Nope. No more penciling wins in for the green and white. Spartans cannot afford to overlook anyone the rest of the way and only take things 1 game at a time without looking back or too far ahead. The only focus should be the Wildcats on Saturday afternoon at 3:30pm EST.