Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spring Game 2014: The Beauty of Defense

The ES wuz at the Peanut Barrel, chugging few beers with Big Bob et al, and sitting next to BTN (formerly WLNS-TV 6) Lisa Byington... just gushing about the talent seen at the Spartan Green and White game... Wow.

A few thoughts: OK, a few poor throws by Connor Cook (and Tyler O'Connor), but the other side  would be a few great throws, particularly the beautiful TD pass from O'Connor to a stretching Keith Mumphery in the end zone, and the very very nice reads by Cook to both WR Aaron Burbridge and TE Josiah Price.  Just real, real nice plays.  Backup QB Damien Terry gave the crowd a scare with a bruised shoulder after being slammed into the turf, but he showed he has nice wheels and good athletic ability. The ES enjoyed the play of Tony Lippett  today - 7 catches for 93 yards - keeping up his improved play from last year.  Wow.

More impressively today was just the look by the MSU defense. Some great plays by Darian Hicks (CB, #2, 5-10, 181-lbs), as well as on the DL by  Shilique Calhoun (#89), and Damon Knox (#93).  Kurtis Drummond (#27) had some great plays in the defensive backfield as well as Ezra Robinson (#37).  The defensive backfield looks very strong, surprisingly; and the interior line looks brutal - add Lawrence Thomas (#8) and the interior looks arguably STRONGER than last year - just 132 yards rushing between the two sides in this Spring game on 39 carries.  Ugh, that is truly beautiful.

Check out the video of my walk up to the stadium below, as well as some photos.  Temperature was about 57 degrees and sunny skies.  Beautiful weather. GO GREEN.  The bottom line is the ES found this team's Spring Game talent, competition, and execution to be at such a higher level as I've ever seen before - looks like Title Town!!  Can't wait until we travel to Oregon - the Ducks have no idea what type of insanity on defense they will expect.  Maybe the Big Green can finally win at Oregon?  The ES was there the last two times - at Eugene in 1999 (we were down 42-0 at half) and in 1982 (we lost by 20 or 30).  Can't wait until the start of 2014 season!!!

(Walk up to Spartan Stadium):



(Below: Josiah Price on the game winning TD pass from Connor Cook with 1:01 left)



(A great crowd, maybe 45,000 in attendance.  Best ever for an MSU Spring Game):











Friday, February 07, 2014

President Obama talks brackets and football excellence at Michigan State

Well, the ES has just basked in the glory of the Rose Bowl for the past month.  It's been tough to get back into Spartan hoops after witnessing victory in the Promised Land.

That said, the ES will start chiming in on Spartan hoops here in the coming days and weeks.  But, that brings to mind today.  I was presented a wonderful opportunity to go see POTUS sign the Farm Bill at Michigan State University today... and of course, he started out acknowledging how fantastic the Spartan athletic teams have played so far this academic year.  Obama singled out his need to "do some scouting..." for his hoops bracket; and, our hoops excellence combined with winning the Rose Bowl made us "greedy."  :)  Wow, watch below, very cool.  GO GREEN!


Friday, January 10, 2014

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Spartans finish #3, preseason #6, move Oregon game up a week

OK, the ES has taken some time off and healed his victory wounds from Pasadena.  Michigan State ended up #3 in the BCS, and in the final USA Today Poll; just 13 votes behind Auburn. The complete final AP poll is below, but as the ES said, MSU should have finished #2 above the Tigers.

What IS interesting, is that the "way-too-early" ESPN Poll picks the Big Green as a preseason #6 pick, with a favorable schedule - first time I can remember in my life that the Spartans were a preseason top 10 in football.

In other news.... the Spartans scheduled game at Oregon has been moved up to September 6, with a 3:30 ET kickoff.  Future schedules are listed below the USA Today Poll

USA Today Poll
RKTEAMRECORDPTS
1Florida State (59)14-01475
2Auburn12-21388
3Michigan State13-11375
4South Carolina11-21219
5Missouri12-21200
6Oklahoma11-21189
7Clemson11-21091
8Alabama11-21086
9Oregon11-2975
10Ohio State12-2872
10Stanford11-3872
12UCF12-1865
13Baylor11-2796
14LSU10-3719
15Louisville12-1703
16UCLA10-3597
17Oklahoma State10-3587
18Texas A&M9-4443
19USC10-4313
20Arizona State10-4302
21Wisconsin9-4266
22Duke10-4202
23Vanderbilt9-4180
24Notre Dame9-4125
25Nebraska9-4123
  • Others receiving votes: Washington 67, Fresno State 54, Northern Illinois 21, Marshall 17, Texas Tech 13, Kansas State 11, Ole Miss 7, Texas 4, Miami (FL) 4, Cincinnati 3, East Carolina 3, Arizona 2, North Texas 2, Utah State 2, Navy 1, Louisiana-Lafayette 1
2014 SPARTAN FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Aug. 30 JACKSONVILLE STATE
Sept. 6 at Oregon
Sept. 20 EASTERN MICHIGAN
Sept. 27 WYOMING (HOMECOMING)
Oct. 4 NEBRASKA
Oct. 11 at Purdue
Oct. 18 at Indiana
Oct. 25 MICHIGAN
Nov. 8 OHIO STATE
Nov. 15 at Maryland
Nov. 22 RUTGERS
Nov. 29 at Penn State

2015
Sept. 12 OREGON
Sept. 19 at Western Michigan
Sept. 26 CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Oct. 3 PURDUE
Oct. 10 at Rutgers
Oct. 17 at Michigan
Oct. 24 INDIANA
Nov. 7 at Nebraska
Nov. 14 MARYLAND
Nov. 21 at Ohio State
Nov. 28 PENN STATE
* Additional game to be scheduled

2016 (BIG TEN ONLY)
Oct. 1 at Indiana
Oct. 8 WISCONSIN
Oct. 15 NORTHWESTERN
Oct. 22 at Maryland
Oct. 29 MICHIGAN
Nov. 5 at Illinois
Nov. 12 RUTGERS
Nov. 19 OHIO STATE
Nov. 26 at Penn State

2017 (BIG TEN ONLY)
Sept. 30 IOWA
Oct. 7 at Michigan
Oct. 14 at Minnesota
Oct. 21 INDIANA
Oct. 28 at Northwestern
Nov. 4 PENN STATE
Nov. 11 at Ohio State
Nov. 18 MARYLAND
Nov. 25 at Rutgers

2018 (BIG TEN ONLY)
Sept. 22: at Indiana
Oct. 6: NORTHWESTERN
Oct. 13: at Penn State
Oct. 20: MICHIGAN
Oct. 27: PURDUE
Nov. 3: at Maryland
Nov. 10: OHIO STATE
Nov. 17: at Nebraska
Nov. 24: RUTGERS

2019 (BIG TEN ONLY)

Sept. 21: at Northwestern
Sept. 28: INDIANA
Oct. 5: at Ohio State
Oct. 12: at Wisconsin
Oct. 26: PENN STATE
Nov. 9: ILLINOIS
Nov. 16: at Michigan
Nov. 23: at Rutgers
Nov. 30: MARYLAND

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Michigan State football should be #2

Congrats to Florida State; the ES was pulling for Auburn to give MSU a shared national champion.  That said, the final polls should be:

#1 Florida State (14-0)
#2 Michigan State (13-1)
#3 Auburn (12-2)

... then, everybody else. Associated Press voters have nothing to do with the BCS. They should do the right thing to vote MSU #2, particularly after the SOLID PERFORMANCE by the Spartans in their victories in the Rose Bowl over #5 Stanford, and the B1G Ten Title game over then-#2 Ohio State.  As the ES said earlier, "Why Not Us?"

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Why not us?

Glorious.  It was the greatest experience in the history of mankind. 

The #4 Michigan State Spartan football team dominated Stanford in the Rose Bowl, as we Spartans knew they would.  It was very much the same theme we’ve seen out of the Spartans all year, only this time against the best opponent Michigan State has faced all year.   MSU was a six point underdog, as it had been frequently an underdog this year.  The Spartans started slowly, as they had often this year.  MSU spotted Stanford 10 points in the first quarter, thanks in part to the poor decision by QB Connor Cook to throw a terrible pass picked and returned for six. But, the ES wasn’t worried.  Cook rebounded nicely and had yet another career high, this time throwing for 332 yards.  The mix of run and pass by the Spartans was deliberate and effective.

This Michigan State team is the best team in the country.  They proved it again in their most complete performance of the season, and the most complete performance in my 45 years of life.  Quite simply: we’d kick Alabama’s ass. 

As Dantonio stated after the Big Ten championship, “why not us?”  MSU IS the best team in the country.  They really are.  They beat everyone the same way – aggressive defense, an improving offense, and wearing teams down with physical play.  Who’s next?  Bring them on. The Spartans would beat anyone.

Speaking about Alabama…  fifteen years ago, Nick Saban left Michigan State for “greener pastures” at Louisiana State, not wanting to be #2 in the state of Michigan.  Well, Nick, I guess the tables are turned.  MSU is better than your team, and it is the #1 team in the state of Michigan; funny, your Crimson Tide is #2 in the state of Alabama.  That’s karma.

The ES is writing this blog with Keith in Manhattan Beach, and I haven’t even looked at the stats until now.  Why?  Cause it doesn’t matter.  It’s the last game of the season, you either win or you don’t.  The only stat that matters in the Rose Bowl is the score. But… that said, let’s see the stats to learn what really stands out:

1.    The No Fly Zone was in effect:  my god, Michigan State threw for 332 yards; Stanford for just 143 (10-of-18).  It was so impressive, the stadium was roaring “No Fly, No Fly” as the game wore on. Stanford was afraid to throw on its last drive.

2.    Stanford’s drives in the second half demonstrate MSU’s rugged defense:
•    3-13, 1:13, interception
•    7-54, 4:18, stopped on 4th down
•    3-(-1), 2:01, punt
•    3-7, 1:13, punt
•    9-50, 4:46, field goal
•    4-9, 1:23, downs

3.  Stanford’s defensive front was the best Michigan State faced all year – holding the Spartans to just 65 yards rushing, with three sacks; Jeremy Langford had 84 yards on 23 carries (3.7 average).

4.  Bennie Fowler (2-97) and Tony Lippett (5-94) were AWESOME targets for Connor Cook.  Fowler’s 37 yard, reach-back grab, was especially amazing.  These guys couldn’t catch a ball early in the season; yesterday, they caught everything thrown their way.

And, Kyler Ellsworth absolutely deserved the award for Defensive MVP.  His play at the end of the game, diving over the top to smash Stanford’s last hope on a fourth down run, is one of the greatest individual efforts I’ve ever seen.  It was ridiculously amazing.  The best part of it, though, was being in the stands after the play as the 70,000-plus Spartans went ape-shit.  It was pure zaniness.

45-minutes after the game, there were still 70,000 Spartan fans in the Rose Bowl.  Noone wanted the moment to end. 

OK, more later.  The ES just ran into some Spartan fans here at Baja Sharkeez – we talked about the game yesterday, and they agreed “it was the greatest event I ever saw.”  Funny thing is, they also noted “it ruined watching sports for the rest of my life.” 

Well, I haven’t bathed since 4:30 am on Wednesday and my hair is still green.  I might never wash it again. 

Thank you, coach Dantonio and these Michigan State Spartans.  As was the theme of the Rose Bowl, and as sung by Darryl Hall during the Rose Parade, “You made my dreams come true.”  Coach D, you done did it. Thank you. 

And by the way: to the college football nation, Michigan State is #1. 


Monday, December 30, 2013

ES Game Day: Spartans to emerge victorious in Rose Bowl mosh pit

ES Travel to LA LA LAND

Today is the big trip to the Rose Bowl!  The ES is on his way with Big Bob, Michelle, and Keith departing Detroit Metro to LAX through Philly.  ‘Twas fun so far – getting on the Michigan Flyer bus from 95%-restored-power-East Lansing, with the bus 80% filled with Spartan fans.   Was especially entertaining the response from the few who boarded the flyer in Ann Arbor.   

Upon arrival, a rather uneventful morning at Detroit Metro – with the exception of it being packed with people donning the Green and White.  As the ES headed through the metal detector, the TSA security agent said, “I’ve never seen so many Michigan State people in two days.  I can’t believe there are so many of you.”  If the ES wasn’t so damn tired, he’d have grinned.

The plane was 75% Spartans to Philadelphia (must be a hub for US Airways).  On the Philly to LAX flight, another 50-60% Spartan fans.  Nice to see this type of travel from the Big Green.

The ES + gang should meet up with his brother (from Switzerland), his papa (from Gig Harbor, Washington), as well as California-based chums Smig, CHock, Kaz, BG, Sherm, Sluggo, Reno Ron, Dr. Evil, and Carter.   That’s one helluva group.  God help us all. 


PREVIEW: The Granddaddy of Them All

The Rose Bowl
January 1, 2014.  5 pm ET.
Michigan State Spartans (#4, 12-1) vs. Stanford Cardinal (#5, 12-1)
Location:  Pasadena, CA
Temperature:  79 and sunny
Chance of Rain:  0%
TV:  ESPN

PREDICTIONS:

The ES will update this with more from around the country, including your typical suspects... but here are some interesting early predictions from some odd sources:

FoxSports: MSU 24-20
CertifiedChance:  MSU 21-17
KJRH.com: Stanford 27-13
Q13Fox.com: Stanford
OregonLive:  Stanford 27-21
DeseretNews: MSU 20-17
Gadsden Messenger:  Stanford 24-20

RECAP:

Well, it took the Enlightened Spartan 26 years of his life, but he has finally returned to the glorious pastures of Pasadena since our last appearance in 1988.  Our coach, doctor Mark Dantonio, has brought the Michigan State University football team to the Promised Land.  With a win, the Spartans could potentially get to as high as #2 in the nation.  It’s truly been a season of the ages – the best team the ES has seen in his life.  If you would have told the ES at the beginning of the season that Connor Cook would be the MVP of the B1G Ten Championship Game, and that MSU would finish the season #4 and undefeated in the conference, well… the ES would have gladly stepped in front of a CATA bus.  But, here we are, and MSU is arguably the most improved team in the nation – especially on offense.  For not the Notre Dame game with a couple of crappy pass interference calls, and putting in Andrew “Clipboard”  Maxwell for the final series, MSU could be at the Rose Bowl to play for the national title.  But, who cares.  We still MADE IT!  ROSES ROSES ROSES!!!!

ES ANALYSIS:

MSU defense vs Stanford offense

Let’s first address the loss of Bullough.  Much has been made about the suspension (link to ES page) of Michigan State’s best player, LB Max Bullough (76 tackes, 9.5 for loss, 10 QB hurries), from the Rose Bowl.  At the presser on Dec 30, the doctor noted that Tyler Ellsworth (10 tackles, 1 pass break up) and Darien Harris (7 tackles) will likely see quite a bit of playing time replacing Mad Max… and while Bullough will be missed, Dantonio offered the system that comes first.  OK, the ES has been a FAN of Ellsworth the past few years – although he has not started, Ellsworth has a knack for loose balls and causing turnovers.  Ellsworth will be a capable replacement – but Bullough he is not.  Bullough will be missed, and it will be crucial for the replacements to minimize mistakes, and not give up the big play, in key situations – particularly third/fourth down and short.  The Stanford offensive line is big and nasty, and their tough, interior power run game demands tough, tight assignment play by the Spartan defense.  The ES is aligned with Certified Chance’s reading from the presser, that it will hurt – but not break – MSU’s defensive mastery.

While the Spartan rushing defense gave up a whopping, season-high 245 rushing yards to Ohio State, much of that was made on the legs of Braxton Miller… whom Stanford QB Kevin Hogan is not (Hogan has a savvy, but not extraordinary, 314 rushing yards on 76 attempts).  But their RB, former baseballer Tyler Gaffney, ran for 1,618 yards (124.5 per game, 5.3 per attempt).  Without less mobility at QB than we saw vs Ohio State, MSU’s defense should manage to keep the Cardinal running game in check, despite the loss of Bullough.  Now, whether or not the LB replacements can make the reads, blitz and make pressure plays on third and longs (as could Bullough) will also be a key to watch.   

Gaffney connected on 61.4% of his throws for 2,487 yards, with a 20-9 TD-to-INT ratio.  His main targets are Ty Montgomery (58 recs, 937 yards, 10 TDs) and Devon Cajuste (27 recs, 591 yards, 5 TDs) – but, he also has tossed it to 18 different receivers, six of whom have 10 catches or more.  Plus, Gaffney has only been sacked 15 times this year.

We know Spartan DBs Darqueze Dennard (10 PBUs, 4 INTs, 10 QB hurries) and Trae Waynes (5 PBUs, 2 INTs) can lock down any receivers; and we know Isaiah Lewis and Kurtis Drummond (6 PBUs, 4 INT) help solidify the nation’s best secondary.  We know Shalique Calhoun (14 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 18 QB hurries), Denicos Allen (15 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 10 QB hurries), and Marcus Rush (7.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 4 QB hurries) will get in the Stanford offensive backfield and cause pressure.   Why do we know this?  They’ve done it in every game this season, and noone has stopped them.  That’s why.

What the hell do all these stats mean?  Should make for a GREAT matchup:  a very capable, tough nosed, run-first Stanford offense against the best defense in the land in Michigan State; against a defense that applies more heat, has the best pass coverage, and is more ferocious on the interior than any other defense in the country.   This is what the ES is dying to watch.


MSU offense vs Stanford defense

This is one of the more fascinating stories of all of college football:  the growth and improvement of the Michigan State offense, particularly QB Connor Cook (58.4% completion, 2,423 yards, 20-5 TD-INT ratio), his wideouts (Tony Lippett 39-519. Macgarrett Kings, 39-461; Bennie Fowler, 34-525; Aaron Burbridge, 22-194; and, Keith Mumphery, 17-279), and the running of Jeremy Langford (269-1,391, 17 TDs, 5.0 avg; 23 rec-140 yards).  Cook’s rise to glory is remarkable, and he looks the part – making good decisions, with a killer arm, and fleet of foot when necessary.  He looks, acts, and has played like the leader he has become.

Cook has thrown to 15 different receivers this season, with seven of them catching 16 or more.  The emergency of Josiah Price at TE (16-201) has been important; particularly on third downs and in the red zone.  His hands are iffy (several drops), unless it really matters when they turn to stick-em (4 TDs).  Early this season, Spartan receivers dropped balls left and right.  But not in Big Ten play – particuarly Lippett, Fowler, and Kings, who have shown excellent hands and speed.  Keith Mumphery, only 17 catches, but he is very dangerous (note: 72 yard TD vs Ohio State), with all of his catches long – he is averaging 16.4 yards per catch.

Langford has also risen to glory, and the runs at the end of the Ohio State game demonstrate how solid he is – running over Buckeye defenders on successive plays, both inside and outside, then right up the middle darting for a 27 yard TD.  Langford is MSU’s equal to Stanford’s Gaffney.  His 123 yards vs the Buckeyes were the only 100 yard rusher against Ohio State this year.

The MSU offensive line has quietly turned into the Big Ten’s BEST, led by the ES’ former neighbor, Blake Treadwell.  The Spartan O-line has given up just 13 sacks in 13 games, has powered ahead with a rushing game averaging 182 yards per game, and all the while given Cook the time to mature.  A very impressive bunch.

Stanford, defensively, is only giving up 91 yards per game on the ground, but 248 yards per game through the air.  This may be the biggest advantage for MSU – the rise of Connor Cook to connect to his wideouts.  But, Stanford, like MSU, brings the pressure as well, with 40 sacks on the season.  Murphy (#93 - 14 sacks, 21.5 for loss, and 7 QB hurries for Stanford. Mauro (#90 - 11.5 TFL, 4 sacks), Skov (#11 - 10 TFL, 4.5 sacks), and Gardner (#49, 7.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 9 QB hurries) similarly bring the heat.   The Stanford defensive backfield is more than capable, although they do not put up as impressive numbers as MSU; Richards (#8) leads the Stanford defensive backs with 3 INTs and 9 passes defended.

What does this mean?  If the Spartan offensive line can give Cook the time, and if Dave Warner can work with Dantonio to create a capable, drive sustaining mix of pass with run (MSU leads the nation in time of possession particularly for this reason), it should be able to connect on enough passing plays to make the difference.

Special teams

Stanford has the big edge in kick returns:  Montgomery has 2 TDs, including a 100 yarder, averaging 31.2 per return.   Neither team has broken out for long punt returns.  Michigan State gets the edge in the kicking game:  Stanford’s Williamson has hit on 16-of-20 FGs, including a long of 48.  But, MSU’s Geiger has hit on 14-of-15 FGs, with a long of 49. Stanford’s Rhyne averages 42 yards a punt with a long of 58; 10 of his 47 punts have exceeded 50 yards, while 15 (32%) have been downed inside the 20.  MSU’s Sadler also averages 42 yards a punt, but 30 of his 70 punts (43%) have been downed inside the 20, with a long of 69.

Other stats

The ES has harped all year on third down percentage.   Michigan State is averaging 45% on its third down attempts, and 64% on its fourth down attempts.  Meanwhile, the Spartans are giving up just 28% on third downs.   Stanford does better on third downs offensively, converting 51% of the time (67% on fourth downs), but does slightly worse defensively (giving up 32%). 

Interestingly, while opopnents are averaging 78% scoring in the red zone against MSU, they have just 27 attempts compared to MSU’s 46 attempts.  And, of those 27 attempts, less than half (only 13) have resulted in TDs.  When you add in the fact the Spartans have the nation’s best run defense and lock-down corners not giving up long passes, this results in the nation’s best scoring defense – just 12.7 PPG.  Stanford is giving up 18.6 PPG, with opponents similarly averaging 74% conversion in the redzone, but with more opportunities:  Stanford’s opponents are in the red zone 39 times compared to its offense 49 times, and its defense has given up 19 TDs (49%).  In other words, Stanford allows opponents to get within its 20-yard-line more often than does MSU, and it also gives up more TDs in the red zone than does MSU.

Michigan State has also forced a whopping 27 turnovers while giving up just 13.  The 2-1 ratio has served tremendous dividends for the Spartans this year.   Stanford has forced 17 turnovers, while giving up 18. 

Finally, Michigan State has outscored opponents an amazing 105-27 in the fourth quarter, when it matters most, and 202-69 in second halves; Stanford has been outscored 82-85 in the fourth quarter, but outscored opponents, 197-139 in the second half.  Big advantage to Michigan State.

Stat summary (Michigan State, Stanford)

Per game averages
MSU
Stanford
Scoring off
29.8
33.2
Scoring def
12.7
18.6
Rush off
182.2
210.9
Rush def
80.8
91.2
Pass off
202.5
202.2
Pass def
167.4
247.8
Turnover ratio
27-13, +14
17-18, -1
3rd down off
45%
51%
3rd down def
28%
32%
TOP off
33:29
31:59
TOP def
26:27
28:01
Penalty yds
51.6
43.5

ES sez: 

What a great game with fairly evenly matched teams.  The biggest differences in favor of the Spartans:  1) MSU passing game has a greater TD-INT ratio; 2)  the Spartan defense across the board allows less yards and fewer red zone opportunities, particulary the MSU pass defense; 3) the Spartan punting game extends the field longer and downs more balls inside the 20; 4) the turnovers for the Spartans are greatly in their favor; 5) Michigan State saves its best for last, vastly outplaying and outscoring opponents in the second half (particularly the fourth quarter).  The biggest differences in favor of Stanford are:  1) Gaffney at RB has bigger games; 2) their kick return game is far more sucessful; 3) their schedule was marginally better this year playing the likes of Oregon, Arizona State, and Notre Dame (Stanford beat the Irish 27-20 late in the year). 

Think about the last game for each team, with the level of competition heavily going to Michigan State vs Ohio State.  In the end, it was the Spartan offense which chopped up the Ohio State defense; and a Spartan defense which gave up lots of scramble yards to Ohio State, but which built a brick wall to stand up the Buckeyes in the end. 

The ES expects both defenses to grind running games into the ground.  It will be smash-mouth, with patience on offense.  Dantonio likes to even the mix of pass with run, and expect the Spartan offense will continue its improvement, particularly the passing game.  However, also expect the loss of Bullough to rear its ugly head with less efficient play calling on third downs.  It will be a lower scoring game – because of the defenses.  Watch the kicking game of MSU, extending the field with punts, timely FGs, to make a big big difference in this game.  The doctor will pull out a trick play on offense – he seemingly always does in big games, at exactly the right time.  Also, watch MSU make another strong second half en route to a 13-1 season.

Final: Michigan State 20, Stanford 17.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

ROSE BOWL ROSE BOWL ROSE BOWL ROSE BOWL

OMFG!!!!!!  DA ES IS LEAVING FOR THE ROSE BOWL ON MONDAY!!!!

THE FARGING ROSE BOWL!!!!! Will arrive for parade at 8 am PRONTO.  Going to lunch in Old Pasadena.  Then to Arroyo Seco Park and THE ROSE BOWL!!!!!

Checklist.... 

Tix taking the Michigan Flyer to Metro Detroit:  Check
Getting on the farking plane, Dec 30:  Check
Plane tix, arriving LAX, Dec 30: Check
Dinner in LA, Dec 30: Check
Getting sunburnt all day on Manhattan Beach, Dec 31:  Check
Dinner in LA, Dec 31: Check
Paint Hair Green, 5 am, Jan 1: Check
Paint Face Green and White, 5 am, Jan 1: Check
Parade Ticket in Area One, Jan 1:  Check
Paint Hair Green again, 12 noon, Jan 1: Check
Rose Bowl Ticket, Jan 1: Check
VICTORY OVER STANFORD:  CHECK
PARYTING MFAO AFTER OUR GDAM WIN:  CHECK!!!!!


Like James Caan, I am going to be singing the Spartan Fight Song in the shower every day of the rest of my life time. Jesus I am already so FIRED UP!!!

WE ARE GOING TO BEAT STANFORD INTO SUBMISSION!!!!  WAHOOOOO!

Friday, December 27, 2013

What to expect out of the Big Ten in this Bowl Season

ES on the Big Ten's bowl chances... let's cut to the chase: 4-3; the Big Ten is top heavy, and it will show.  

TEXAS: Minnesota (-3.5) 31, Syracuse 20.  W.
BWW: Kansas State (-5.5) 38, Michigan 21.  L.
GATOR: #22 Georgia (-9) 27, Nebraska 20.  L.
OUTBACK: #16 LSU (-7) 28, Iowa 26.  L.
CAP ONE: #19 Wisconsin (-1.5) 31, #9 South Carolina 17. W.
ROSE: #4 Michigan State will beat #5 Stanford (-5.5). (ES Game Day TBA). W.
ORANGE: #7 Ohio State (-2.5) 41, #12 Clemson 40. W.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Max Bullough out for Rose Bowl


Well, with Max Bullough suspended for the Rose Bowl, his career at Michigan State is over.  Is this a blow to Michigan State?  Absolutely - Bullough has been among the most consistently GREAT defensive players this season for the nation's best defense.  He has been the quarterback of this defense, making key reads at key times to shut down opponents.  Bullough is arguably the Spartans' best player.  And, he comes from a long lineage of Bullough's who have played for the Spartans dating back to the 1950s.

It's a big loss.  One that MSU can overcome, and it is a loss of which the Big Green will prepare for with a very deep and talented linebacking bunch... but Bullough was the best of that bunch.  The loss is significant - Graham Couch's article does a nice job laying out the impact of the loss of Bullough with respect to his incredible effort for the Spartans in big games this season.

Will it make a difference? Yes - if you've seen Bullough, the guy makes split second reads and adjusts this talented defense on the fly, better than any other LB in the nation.  Noone - NOONE - can lead a defense as well as Mad Max, and as such, his will be a tough replacement - Stanford's offense likely will take advantage in a few key moments in the game if MSU's new defensive leader does not adjust as fast.  This is a big hole to fill.  But, MSU has lots of talent at linebacker, and whomever takes the place of Bullough will have a lot of homework, and will miss a trip or three to Disneyland and the beach.

Whatever Bullough did, it is disappointing that it cost him the biggest game for the Spartans in a generation.  I have every confidence that Coach Dantonio made the right decision, and it must have been an agonizing one considering the stakes.  Bullough, however, doesn't owe us or anyone an explanation other than his teammates.  Here is where the ES disagrees with Graham Couch's article - the punishment is severe and unless you are on the team, what he did really is none of your business (unless Bullough broke the law, in which case we will learn eventually).

Coach Dantonio has overcome huge obstacles... and here is yet another.  He never said it would be easy.  And, it just got harder. 

Regardless of the loss, the Spartan Nation will prepare for battle!  Go STATE! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rose Bowl tickets have arrived

Lookie what came in the mail today!  Merry X-Mas and Happy New Year to me!  Sitting in row 68;  there are 77 rows in the Rose Bowl.  Looks like we are in tunnel 12, which is in the end zone. See ya in Pasadena.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

ROSE BOWL GEAR!!!!

The ES made some t-shirts for his posse of 25+to wear in Pasadena.  If you would like to gander a look and purchase, enjoy!!!  ES is all jacked up!  LINK HERE.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Stanford favored by 4-1/2 over Michigan State in Rose Bowl

Over in Vegas, the bookies have #5 Stanford as a 4-1/2 point fave over #4 Michigan State. Perfect - just the way we Spartans like it.  Here is the lineup for all the Big Ten bowl matchups (NOTE: all times are ET and pm):

Bowl Matchup Date/Time TV Line
Texas Minnesota vs Syracuse 12/27, 6:00 espn Minn by 4-1/2
B-Dubs Michigan vs Kans St 12/28, 10:15 espn Kansas St by 3-1/2
Gator Nebraska vs Georgia 1/1, 12:00 espn2 Georgia by 9
Capital One Wisconsin vs S. Carolina 1/1, 1:00 abc Wisky by 1
Outback Iowa vs LSU 1/1, 1:00 espn LSU by 7-1/2
Rose Michigan St vs Stanford 1/1, 5:00 espn Stanford by 4-1/2
Orange Ohio St vs Clemson 1/3, 8:30 espn Ohio St by 2-1/2

Friday, December 13, 2013

Paybacks are Hell: How rude Buckeye fans got their just desserts

Zero thanks to Ohio State Buckeye fans in Indianapolis who ended up giving the ES the flu this week.  But now, Friday night, and da ES is finally back on his feet!

Wow, what a victory.  ES made the trip with Big Bob, Keith, and Seth - a bunch of old State fraternity guys on the best road trip ever to witness a big-time Spartan victory.  The ES was extremely confident going into this game, and was boasting of the Big Green to plenty of Buckeyes and Spartans at the Colts Grille, the outdoor beer plaza, and the Slippery Noodle.

And, man-oh-man was it cold at the beer plaza.  Like, zero degrees cold.  Just brutal, booger-freezing cold.  Let's talk some about the Buckeye fans before and after the game.  First, off, the ES never heard this song before, "We don't give a damn about the whole state of Michigan, cause we're from O-HI-O"... la de da.  The ES heard it all night long Friday night, especially at the beer plaza underneath the heating lamps (which worked very well, but only if you were within 1 feet).  But, what is strange is the song is all about hating Michigan/Michigan State/Michigan Tech/Univ of Detroit/Ferris State/etc. instead of praising Ohio State. Methinks if you write and sing a song about another, it means you care more about winning than you care about your own school.  It lacks, well, cooth.  However, at the time, I thought it was fine, mainly because I was too damn cold to give a crap.

When we popped into different pubs, the Ohio Staters we met were really friendly.  I mean, down right nice.  Maybe because they nearly always kick our butt, and they were confident at #2 they were going to walk over the Spartans into the national title game.  But, the ES had some great conversations.  Notably, even after the Spartans won, going into a few of the pubs, the Buckeye faithful agreed we were the better team and Michigan State deserved the victory.

On game day, after waiting 90 minutes for a cab, and taking a 45 minute cab ride (SUCKED, even the Sloth beat us downtown by an hour), we arrived around 2 pm and did all the B1G Ten stuff.  When we went to the MSU pep rally (photo below), it was filled with Ohio Staters.... that was an early sign of things to come.  Right outside the Big Ten studio within the convention center, there were people lined up to get an autograph from former MSU QB Jim Miller; the ES asked Miller for a chest-bump, was turned down, and ended up back-bumping Miller. It was cool; not sure if he liked it, but harmless.  We saw some dude wearing Ohio State gear run a timed 4.37-40.  That was amazing.  I think the ES ran a 6.05-40 in his loafers (or was it 6.45, 6.75?  whatever)? Fun.

Big Bob cheers on the Big Green with Sloth (at right) in a sea of red
at Spartan Pep Rally



We did our best to buy tickets to microbrews at the beer plaza and slug them down before the game.  The B1G shut down one end, and then the other, about 2 hours before kickoff.  They didn't give any slack.  Bummer is I still have 2 beer tickets left.  Oh well, I didn't need anymore.  But, it was really really cold.  I mean, like the night before, 10 degrees cold.  The lines to get into the stadium were very long, and while organized it just seemed lethargic... methinks the Big Ten can do a better job opening up more doors and processes to get fans in earlier.  Maybe even provide promotions to get people into the game earlier? 

At the game... the ES walked in, and it was an 80% Buckeye crowd.  That's when I realized what a treat of a game:  NOW WE GOTTA WIN.  We had to stick it to the ugliest coach in the land, Urban Meyer.  Michigan State had to be the team to beat the Buckeye undefeated streak.  The Spartans had to beat up on the confident Buckeye Nation which came to Indianapolis expecting to be anointed and head to a National Title, expecting Michigan State as only a roadbump.  And, we needed to beat these cheaters which vacated their victories from tattoo-gate and cost the Spartans a trip to Pasadena in 2010.  The ES got to thinking:

Paybacks are hell. 

Furthermore, the Spartans had to win after this "downright nice" fanbase turned sour within the stadium.  From kickoff to the Langford game-clinching TD, Spartans in our section were berated by Buckeyes every other play time and again throughout the game, and with Buckeye faithful standing up the ENTIRE GAME and unwilling to sit down (see my seat below).  Said one Buckeye fan early in the 2nd quarter after we politely requested (not demanded) him to "please sit down,"... the Buckeye said: "You haven't been to the Rose Bowl in 26 years, what don't you get up and cheer on your fu**ing team."   Said, Sloth: "well if you aren't using your seat, can I?" and he walked over and sat down in the seat of that really ripe Buckeye fan.  Good for Sloth pointing out their ridiculousness. The Buckeye Nation should be totally embarrassed at how their fans treat others.  These are the ones that cause Kirk Herbstreit to move out of Ohio.

The view of the ES at the B1G Ten Title game.  My guess is Stanford
fans will be more appreciative of others at the Rose Bowl than were
Buckeye fans at the B1G Ten Championship.  


This is just a sample of how these Buckeye fans at the game were AWFUL, TERRIBLE.  Seriously, what terrible, mean people.

So, HOW WE WON was even better.  The Spartan defense was awsome early and late - that's how defense wins championships... when it matters.  That Buckeye offensive line and Braxton Miller really gave a good sucker punch to the Spartans in the third quarter.  The ES turned to Buckeye fans sitting next to him and said, "wow, Miller is awesome, and that line is playing great."  Sloth turned to the ES and said, "we're done."  But, the Spartans weren't done - not these Spartans.  No more S.O.S.  The Spartans, with Cook and Langford, punched right back with a nice mix of run and pass.  Hard-nosed play out of Michigan State, with a 4th-Down conversion on the option by Cook in the process.  For the Spartans to have the resilience they did, for the defense to shut down OSU, to beat them down and demoralize them in the final 15 minutes - it was beautiful. POUND GREEN POUND. Better yet, seeing the "WTF" look on the face of Urban Meyer at the end of the game was... well, priceless.   That was worth $1,000.

Sure enough, these Buckeye fans, including the jerk above standing all game, left when Langford ran for paydirt to seal the MSU victory. If you care so much for your school and your football team has won 24 straight, wouldn't you want to stick around?  I guess not - because you Buckeyes don't care about the school; just your team winning.  What sore losers, terrible football fans.

All the ES wanted was to get back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1988.  Who cares about the National Title?  It is all about the Rose Bowl.  AND WE DID IT! The Spartans did it our way - with grind it out defense, a timely running game behind drives with long times-of-possession, and the best game of his career by QB Connor Cook.  

Yeah, it was pretty much all red. The Buckeye Nation figured this was a walk in the park. 
Michigan State ruined the Ohio State dream, and ruined their season. 

After the game, the ES jumped onto the railings outside with his "yeee-haws."  High-fiving every Spartan in shouting distance.  It was 5 degrees outside, 27 below freezing, but it felt like it was 80 degrees on a California beach.  Then, the ES walked with Keith and Big Bob into another three or four bars and high-fived all the Spartan fans in eyeshot.  98% of all Spartans said they were going to Pasadena, had no idea how but didn't care about the cost.  Must have had 1,000 high-fives between 1-3 am in Indianapolis.  The place was electric... and exhausting over time.  How much partying and jumping up and down can one do in one evening?  The ES must've burned 5,000 calories, and got the flu in the process.

The ES is bringing his posse of 10-15 Spartan fans to the Rose Bowl.  OMG, I can't wait.  

Ohio State and Buckeye Nation:  We got payback for your cheating ways; Paybacks are Hell.  

Just look at these basic stats.  Read 'em and weep:

 OSUMSU
1st Downs2023
Total Yards374438
Passing101304
Rushing273134
Penalties5-623-20
3rd Down Conversions1-105-15
4th Down Conversions0-22-2
Turnovers01
Possession27:0932:51

Sunday, December 08, 2013

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS

The greatest formation in football.  

WE DID IT!!!!! 








MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

2013 BIG TEN FOOTBALL CHAMPIONS

See ya in Pasadena!

Friday, December 06, 2013

ES Game Day, Championship version: Spartan defense will lay the hammer


ES Game Day:


B1G Ten Conference Championship
#9 Michigan State Spartans (11-1/8-0) vs #2 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0/8-0)

Where:  Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
When:  8 pm, December 7, 2013
TV:  Fox
Line:  Ohio State by 5-1/2

SPARTANS: WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION!!!!

Predictions: 
  • BTN.com:  Merriman, MSU 24-21; Bardo, MSU 28-24; Yarina, OSU 27-23; Dienhart, OSU 30-27
  • ESPN.com:  Rittenberg, MSU 30-28; Bennett: OSU 27-24
  • CFN/Scout:  OSU, 27-17
  • CBSSports:  Palm: OSU wins & covers; Feldman: OSU 14-10
  • OffTackleEmpire:  OSU 27-23
  • BeforeItsNews: MSU 27-17
  • Bloguin: Kenney, OSU 20-13; Coppens, OSU 34-21; Torres, OSU 20-14; Singleton, OSU 42-28; Biles, OSU 28-18; Parcell, MSU 24-21; Causey, OSU 31-28; McGuire, OSU 24-20; Perry, OSU 28-12
  • movoli:  MSU 27-17
  • CollegeFootballPoll:  Computer says OSU by 7.66, but the blogger picks MSU outright
  • Channel3000/SportsXChange:  MSU 30-27
  • International Business Times:  OSU 41-28
  • CappersPicks: OSU 31-20
  • NewsOK:  OSU 19-17 
  • BuckeyeFansOnly:  probably the most painful website blog on the eye, but it's an aggregate of a ton of different previews out there.  Some predictions, but it just too difficult and bothersome to splice up for the ES site.
Dear Buck-nut fans: 

Those of you who have never set foot on THE OSU campus, who paint yourselves up as ugly looking red and silver Christmas trees, or some reddish porcupine roadkill... those of you who will return on Sunday to your $50,000 two-story, plastic-shuddered houses in Euclid, Mansfield, Zanesville, or your trailers in Springfield... that's right, those of you Buck-nut fans who use your copy of Catcher in the Rye to prop up your garage sale ottoman for your fat ugly legs when watching your Buckeyes on a plasma tv for which you took out a second mortgage... those of you Buck-nut fans who will go to work on Monday to your $15 shifts repairing General Electric microwaves, filling in potholes in 25 degree weather, realigning the plumbing in the shack of another saddended Buck-nut fan whose Little Caeasar pizza didn't agree with him while watching the Buckeyes lose... that's right, you Buck-nuts who think the unethical, cheating, and admitted liar Jim Tressel is a saint and a martyr... those red and white fans who never picked up a book, who never went to college but choose this historically scandalous football program as one deserving your allegiance, this allegiance which is at the pinnacle of arrogance of college football.  Wake up, the ES is speaking to you, you uneducated Buckeye scum. To those fans with NO ties to Ohio State athletics other than the red and white poop-stained underwear in your drawers... the ES sez: why don't you buy a paper, read it with your pink eye, and stick it where the sun don't shine.

To the rest of the Buckeye Nation, the Spartan Nation, and the rest of college football, the ES sez:

Thank the good lord Ohio State is undefeated.  It's hard to like Urban Meyer.  More directly, it's hard not to hate Urban Meyer.  He's a bottom feeder.  The national media is swimming along next to him, sucking up to Meyer and the Buckeyes in the press conference on Wednesday.  Asking MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi about the greatness of the Buckeye offense, Narduzzi quipped, appropriately: “Shoot, maybe we shouldn’t even show up.”  Thankfully, we have the vicious Spartan defense to take its hot poker and stick a big 'ole "L" on his butt cheek.

The ES is looking for payback in this game.  Payback for the cheatin' ways of Tressel, whose players' arrogance for free tattoos and swapping jewelry ended up pushing Michigan State out of what should have deservedly been a Rose Bowl appearance in 2010-2011.  In the record books, Ohio State now has L's next to all the games that season - but what hurt was the collateral damage of the Big Green NOT making it to its Promised Land of wine and roses, instead being sent to Florida for a slaughter at the hands of Alabama.  And, no remorse from the Buckeye faithful.  ES sez: payback is hell.

This is the most significant football game in my 45 years of life.  Why?  This is the best Spartan football team I've ever seen.  It's better than the 2011 team with Kirk Cousins that failed to win the B1G Title game vs Wisconsin.  It's definitely better than the 1988 Rose Bowl team, of which I attended every game: ES watching the title clinching game vs Indiana with mononucleosis, and spending New Years Day basking in the Rose Bowl victory over Southern Cal.

This season, our Michigan State Spartans have defeated every Big Ten team by double digits.  So, when the media says the Big Ten is soft in 2013 - that's fine; the Big Green whooped 'em all.  This is the best Spartans team since we last won the national title in 1966.  That's why we NEED this game:  it's in our blood, THE ROSE BOWL means everything to the Spartan Nation and our proud program.

You can read about the matchups, the stats, all the other hoopla elsewhere. ES sez the player of the game will be Max Bullough, using his storied family Spartan pedigree as inspiration to slow the Buckeye run game and position the defense for game-making plays.  The leader of the best defense in the land that will get it done, and sacrifice himself so his teammates can break Braxton Miller in two. The angry Spartan defense will bully the Buckyes, and by the end of the game will shove a pail of buckeyes right up their arse. The whole nation is rooting for the Spartans because of the near-unanimous hatred of Meyer.  The Spartans will deservedly end this ugly winning streak of that rodent of a coach, Urban Meyer.    

The ES will be at Lucas Oil Stadium, in tears of joy, with Big Bob, Keith, Seth, Sloth and his juniors - handing out red and white roses to Green and White fans who've made the trip.  

ES sez:  MSU 24, Ohio State 20.  See ya in Pasadena!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Smack on Ohio State

Let the smack run free and rampant. 

Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee said he never considered firing Tressel: "No, are you kidding me?" Gee said. "Let me be very clear. I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me."

ESPN announcer Kirk Herbstreit: "To continue to have to defend myself and my family in regards to my love and devotion to Ohio State is unfair. …Eighty to ninety percent of the Ohio State fans are great. It’s the vocal minority that make it rough. They probably represent only 5 to 10 percent of the fan base, but they are relentless.”


Found this lovely website.  Did not do any fact-checking, but methinks this is pretty accurate.  Or, close enough.  Corrections are welcome.

"My G.P.A. was bad [0.0] because I never attended class. It wasn't bad because I did the work and failed."
-Reggie Germany, former Ohio State wide receiver
 

"I don't think he's [Clarett's] lying. If he feels it's right to speak out, then I'm behind him 100%."
-Chris Vance, former Ohio State wide receiver

"He gave us furniture all the time. At least $2,000 worth of nice tables and couches."
-Marco Cooper, former Ohio State linebacker, speaking about an Ohio State booster

"When you'd leave, [the booster] sets you straight. They say, 'You got any money in your pocket?' They make sure your money's straight."
-Maurice Clarett, former Ohio State tailback

"What would have become of Ohio State if I said everything? Half the team would have been suspended, and it would have been worse for everybody. I was like, 'Why don't I just take it?'"
-Maurice Clarett, former Ohio State tailback

"Ohio State created me. They created what they suspended."
-Maurice Clarett, former Ohio State tailback

"I don't say that anymore. I found out four things can happen on a forward pass. The fourth is that you can get fired."
-Woody Hayes, former Ohio State coach

And..


Monday, December 02, 2013

The thread on Ohio State for today

The Facebook thread from the Sloth:

... As much as I love getting fired up for the Michigan rivalry, or the incredibly intense battles our Spartans have had in both hoop and football with Wisconsin, I truly and deeply hate Ohio State. everything I dislike most about college sports - the cheating, the double-standards, the looking the other way at the transgressions of kids who very often have no business ever stepping foot on a college campus, the wannabe tough-guy idiotic fans who never attended college and confuse college sports for armed combat, etc. - is epitomized by no alleged institution of higher learning more than The Ohio State University. befitting of its long tradition of white trash assholedom, even its beloved superfan, "Big Nut", did not attend the university, which of course helps to explain why so many Buckeye fans are surprised to learn that the word "college" or "amateur" appears as part of the phrases "college athletics" or "amateur sports". for over 30 years and despite having teams in both Cleveland and Cincinnati, the Buckeyes have remained the best professional football team in the state of Ohio. Lord knows I will cheer as loudly or even louder for our Spartans as any other fan next Saturday in Indy, but regardless of outcome I will grin ear to ear the entire evening knowing that, regardless of which team wins on the football field, I will wake up Sunday morning a Michigan State Spartan, and not just a Spartan for the convenience of being a fan of college sports, either.

  • sloth: and yes, Ma Ward, there are of course exceptions. 
     
    • ES: the older I get, the more I dislike all of the other Big Ten teams. But, yes, Ohio State is the ugliest of the bunch. Whether its Jim O'Brien and his hoops scum 1999-2002 (and we still kicked their ass), or the entire OSU program and its transgressions dating back to the days of Woody Hayes (too many to name), THE Ohio State University and its athletics arrogance is defined by THE. Can't wait until I see Max Bullough pile-drive Braxton Miller into that plastic grass. Multiple times. That will be worth the price of admission. It's just a matter of time until Urban "I can't have a real heart attack" Meyer gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar, just like his predecessors. What a piece of junk.
       
  • sloth:  have no beef at all with anyone who wants to cheer for the college team of their choice, but I believe that competing in college athletics should be reserved to student athletes and cheering for college athletics should be reserved to those people who want to cheer for student athletes. I have no patience at all for people who cheer for college teams the same way they do professional teams, because the emphasis first and foremost should always be on the "student" part of the equation.
     
    • ES:  problem with your point being the term "student athlete" was invented by the NCAA to circumvent future lawsuits/workers' comp after a football player died in the early 1950s. I prefer the term "college athlete" or "varsity athlete" instead of the loaded-moniker. Nevertheless, your point still stands.