Sparty’s defense proves to be the difference against Boise State

12 Comments

Unless you noticed the different uniforms, stadium and names, you could have flipped on tonight’s game between No. 13 Michigan State and No. 24 Boise State and thought, even if only briefly, that you were watching a replay of Thursday’s game between South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Down to the 17-13 final score, tonight’s season opener in East Lansing shared a few qualities from the SEC’s weeknight introduction: turnovers, huge momentum swings, but little in the way of effective passing games. But, my oh my, can Spartans running back Le’Veon Bell carry the rock. Fourty-four times, in fact, for 210 yards — four more yards than Boise State had all night.

Which leads me to the real difference in tonight’s game: Michigan State’s defense. It was everything as advertised. Sparty kept Boise State to just 37 yards rushing, less than 50 percent completion percentage and no offensive touchdowns. The only time the Broncos found the end zone all night was on a Jeremy Ioane interception returned 43 yards for a touchdown. It was one of three picks made by Boise on the night.

So, yes, Andrew Maxwell struggled mightily at times in his first start replacing Kirk Cousins. That’s where Bell came in to save the day, but that needs to change eventually. Even at nearly 250 pounds, Bell can’t realistically average 40 carries a game. No one can.

Sure, Maxwell needs to improve, but he needs help too. Sparty’s O-line underachieved against an unproven Broncos D-line, and the passing game needs a new name outside of Bell (six catches for 55 yards) and tight end Dion Sims (seven grabs for 65 yards).

The turnover at quarterback and receiver was a concern heading into tonight, and it was certainly validated, but it’s impossible to know just where Michigan State stacks up in the Big Ten Legends division. Not tonight, anyway. For one, no one else in the Big Ten has played yet, but like we mentioned in the Wazzu-BYU post game report, opening week games are terrible gauges for the rest of the season.

All anyone really knows about Michigan State is the defense is much farther along than the offense — but that was expected. What wasn’t so much was how close Boise State kept the score. Again, that’s a tribute to Chris Petersen. Simply put, the guy is one of the best damn coaches in the country.

Think about it. Boise State lost 17 starters from a group that won 50 games together — though it should be pointed out that many on the field tonight played a role in those wins — and (again) somehow managed* to hang with a supposedly superior opponent without a single offensive touchdown.

(*Something about Michigan State turning the ball over four times.)

But I digress…

Michigan State’s defense is good enough by itself to give Mark Dantonio‘s team a shot at a Big Ten title. The focus for the Spartans now centralizes on making a young offense more cohesive.

That simply comes with time. When you have a defense like Michigan State does, that’s a luxury you actually do possess.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history

college football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on April 2, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Illinois becomes sixth B1G school to allow in-game beer sales
THE SYNOPSIS: Indiana subsequently joined Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue and Rutgers in Big Ten schools permitting alcohol sales at football games.  That’s exactly half of the conference.

2018

THE HEADLINE: LeBron James’ company challenges Alabama football over barbershop videos
THE SYNOPSIS: How I long for the days of inane offseason brouhahas.  Never thought I would miss things like this.  Until now.

2017

THE HEADLINE: New Tennessee AD John Currie says Butch Jones ‘on the right trajectory’
THE SYNOPSIS: Seven months, 10 days after that public vote of confidence, Currie canned Jones.  The head coach finished with a 34-27 record on Rocky Top.  What doomed him, though, was a 14-24 record in SEC play.  At the time of his dismissal, the Vols were 0-6 in the conference.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Cardale Jones comes full circle on playing school, and so should everyone else
THE SYNOPSIS: In October of 2012, the Ohio State quarterback famously tweeted, “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL? we ain’t come here to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.” Three years later, Jones tweeted, “still can’t believe I tweeted something as stupid as this but hey, we live and we learn.” In May of 2017, Jones received his degree from OSU.

2014

THE HEADLINE: FSU’s Nick O’Leary again involved in motorcycle accident
THE SYNOPSIS: The talented Florida State tight end suffered minor injuries in what was his second motorcycle accident in nine months.  O’Leary totaled 1,591 yards and 17 touchdowns on 114 receptions during his time with the Seminoles.  And, I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but his grandfather is golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Updated: Petrino reportedly not wearing helmet at time of accident
THE SYNOPSIS: The only reason I’m using this?  It affords me to use the greatest.  Photo.  Ever. This was also before the fit hit the shan for Bobby Petrino in Fayetteville.

2010

THE HEADLINE: Irish recruit James dies in spring break accident
THE SYNOPSIS: Offensive lineman Matt James, who signed with Notre dame two months earlier, died after falling from a hotel balcony.  He chose the Golden Domers over his hometown Ohio State.

2009

THE HEADLINE: PISSY PETE SAYS BLASTING SANCHEZ WAS JUST A TEST
THE SYNOPSIS: Ah yes.  The good ol’ days.  When we could refer to then-USC head coach Pete Carroll as “Pissy Pete” for his treatment of Mark Sanchez, who had the audacity to leave the Trojans early for the NFL.

(*Yes, back in the day, we used to scream out our headlines at our readers in all-caps. The move to NBC a couple of months later mercifully ended that practice.)

Rutgers inching closer to Top 10 2021 recruiting class

Rutgers football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rutgers, of all schools, is killing it on the football recruiting trail. Still.

When last we left Greg Schiano‘s Rutgers football crew, the Scarlet Knights held the No. 12 class in the 2021 team rankings. That upward move was launched by five commitments in a span of roughly a week. The highlight of the recruiting splurge was four-star linebacker Khayri Banton committing to the Big Ten school.

Tuesday, three-star wide receiver Max Patterson committed to Rutgers football as well.

With the flurry of commitments, Rutgers now holds the No. 11 2021 class in the country. Rutgers football.  Nearly a Top 10 school in recruiting.

That ranking, incidentally, puts them ahead of the likes of Georgia (No. 15), LSU (No. 16), Michigan (No. 17), Oklahoma (No. 19), Florida State (No. 24) and Auburn (No. 25), among others.

That No. 11 ranking also leaves Rutgers with the fifth-ranked football recruiting class In the Big Ten. The other four are No. 1 Ohio State, No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 9 Maryland and No. 10 Iowa.

The Scarlet Knights have never had a Top 10 recruiting class. Ever.  Or a Top 20 class, for that matter. For some perspective, the top-ranked Rutgers football recruiting class of the past two decades was No. 23 in 2012. The cycle immediately after Schiano left the school for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it should be noted.

Outside of that, the recruiting finishes have been decidedly pedestrian for the Scarlet Knights. Since the start of the 21st century, 18 of the Scarlet Knights’ 21 classes have finished outside of the Top 30. Of those 18, 15 finished 42nd or worse; 10 came in outside of the Top 50.

Seven of the current members of Rutgers’ Class of 2021 hail from the state of New Jersey. The other three come from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

If Rutgers is to continue making hay on the football recruiting trail, they’ll do so in an extended dead period. Wednesday, the NCAA announced that the ban on all in-person contact between schools and prospects has been extended out through May 31. That extension, of course, is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ed Orgeron, wife Kelly divorcing after 23 years of marriage

Ed Orgeron
Getty Images
2 Comments

Coming off a high on it, Ed Orgeron is hitting a low off the field.

According to multiple media outlets in the area, Ed Orgeron filed a petition for divorce from his wife of 23 years, Kelly Orgeron.  The petition was filed by Ed Orgeron Feb. 26, two days after the LSU head coach stated in the petition that the couple had separated.

The separation came five days after the couple’s 23rd anniversary.  It also came a little over two months after LSU claimed its first national championship since 2007.

From the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Orgeron states he is entitled to have the exclusive use and occupancy of the former matrimonial domicile in Baton Rouge, and he has no objection to Kelly Orgeron being granted exclusive use and occupancy of a home in Mandeville, “until such time as the community property is settled either by conventional agreement or judicial partition.”

Orgeron and his wife have twin sons, Parker and Cody.   Those two were born a year after the couple was married.  Tyler Spotts-Orgeron, a son from Kelly’s previous marriage, was an offensive analyst for Orgeron this past season.

Two weeks after LSU beat Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship game, Ed Orgeron agreed to a six-year, $42 million contract extension.  The new deal netted the coach a $3 million raise.

UTEP punter Mitchell Crawford set to transfer to Michigan State

Michigan State
Getty Images
Leave a comment

There is yet another development on the punting front for Michigan State.

Last year, Bryce Baringer placed his name into the NCAA transfer database. As we noted this week, Baringer pulled his name out of the portal, an indication that the punter has decided to remain as part of the Michigan State football team.

Around the same time, MSU released an updated roster. Conspicuously absent was the name of Jack Bouwmeester. A Michigan State official subsequently confirmed that Bouwmeester has returned to his native Australia. No reason was given for that development. It’s unclear at this point whether the move is permanent or temporary.

Whether related or not to Bouwmeester’s departure, Mitchell Crawford confirmed Tuesday to mlive.com that he has received a scholarship offer from Michigan State. Crawford, also an Aussie, would be leaving UTEP as a graduate transfer. That would allow him to use his final year of eligibility with the Spartans.

In two seasons with the Miners, Crawford averaged 39.7 yards on his 134 punts. Of those, 29 landed inside the 20-yard line. In 2018, the Queensland native earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.

Baringer began his collegiate career at Illinois. After taking a redshirt as a true freshman in 2017, Baringer transferred to Michigan State prior to the start of the 2018 season. Because of injuries that year to the two punters ahead of him on the depth chart, Baringer played in four games. In that action, he averaged 32.4 yards on 15 punts. Four of those punts landed inside the 20-yard line.

Baringer and Crawford are now two of four punters currently on the Michigan State roster. The others are redshirt junior walk-on Tyler Hunt and redshirt freshman walk-on Evan Morris. Hunt was the second of the two punters injured during that 2018 season. Hunt, who replaced the injured starter Jake Hartbarger that year, started five games, punting 36 times for an average of 40.1 yards per.