Who Did Ohio State Football Lose To This Year College Football – The Curse is Now Over – Michigan State Avoids Its Customary Late Season Collapse

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College Football – The Curse is Now Over – Michigan State Avoids Its Customary Late Season Collapse

When the 16 seniors walked out of Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Saturday after their 9th straight win over Purdue, their biggest legacy was that they were the class that broke the curse — Michigan State’s dreaded curse of starting fast and bad finish.

Before Mark Dantonio took over as coach last season, former coach John L. Smith started 18-4 the previous 4 seasons and finished 4-22. In 2003, it started 7-1 and finished 1-3. In 2004, it started 4-3 and finished 1-5. In 2005, they started 4-0 and finished 1-6. In 2006, it started 3-0 and finished 1-8. This is what is called a curse.

Mark Dantonio started 2-4 last season and finished 5-2. The Spartans went 7-6 and ended up in a bowl game. After defeating Purdue 21-7 at home Saturday (11-8-08), the Spartans are 9-2. Michigan lost to California State, won 6 in a row, lost to Ohio State 45-7, but bounced back with 3 more wins.

The curse is officially over. Dantonio changed the culture at Michigan State from “it’s all about me” to “we are one.” He demanded discipline, concentration, work and responsibility. His players now believe they can win and have learned how to play and win, again and again.

The Spartans have a bye this week and then go on the road against the No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions to end their season. When Saturday began, Penn State was 9-0 and ranked No. 3. After being upset by Iowa 24-23 in Iowa, Michigan State now has a chance for a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 1990.

The Spartans’ conference record is 6-1, while Penn State and Ohio State are both 5-1, with Michigan State currently a half-game ahead. Penn State faces Indiana before its showdown with the Spartans. Ohio State faces Illinois and Michigan to end its season.

Michigan State is currently ranked No. 18 in the AP Top 25. The Spartans have everything to gain against Penn State and nothing to lose as the Nittany Lions are ranked #7 and will have home court advantage. The Spartans are not expected to win, and if they do, they will at least have a share of the major title.

Michigan State (9-2) isn’t knocking the socks off the likes of Florida, Alabama and Texas Tech right now, but they’ll make a bowl game more important this year, even if they lose to Penn State as expected.

What has been very interesting about Michigan State this year is how Spartan’s defense has dominated its stats. Among 119 Division 1-A teams, Michigan State ranks 75th in rushing defense, 59th in pass defense and 37th in scoring defense. They rank 18th among all teams in the country, but are not in the top 25 in any of those defensive categories.

When push came to shove against Purdue, the Spartan defense nearly shut down. Their offense had 4 turnovers on Saturday, but the defense was solid.

Michigan State stopped Purdue on its first 15 possessions, including a 14-yard sack on 4th-and-5 at the Spartans’ 27-yard line and a 1-yard stop on 4th-and-1. Spartan 29-yard line. On their 16th possession, the Boilermakers finally put together a 16-play, 88-yard drive for their only touchdown with 42 seconds left.

With just 19 seconds left in the first half and Michigan State leading 7-0, freshman quarterback Johnny Adams stepped in front of Justin Siller’s pass and returned it 40 yards to give the Spartans a 14-0 lead. Again, the defense not only held, but scored goals to help the offense.

Here’s a fact that sports reporters and analysts across the country haven’t mentioned: Of the teams with 9 or more wins, only 9 have fewer losses than Michigan State after Week 11 of the college football game.

They are Texas Tech (10-0), Texas (9-1), Alabama (10-0), Oklahoma (9-1), Penn State (9-1), Utah (10-0), Boise State (9). are -0), Ball State (9-0) and Brigham Young (9-1). The Spartans are in pretty lucrative company by any standards.

Can Michigan beat Penn State? Penn State just lost on the road to Iowa, 24-23. Of course, JoPa (coach Joe Paterno) is going to be mad about losing another national title. Michigan hosted and defeated Iowa State 16-13. Anything can and does happen in college football.

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

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