Michigan State football: Big-time QBs have had mixed results against Spartans
Michigan State has a huge challenge in its Dec. 31 bowl game against Oregon. The Ducks’ quarterback, Justin Herbert, is one of the best throwers in the country and he will test a Spartans secondary that has been porous at time and comes into the game at less than full strength.
Let’s take a look back at some of the long days and nights the Spartans’ secondary has endured this season:
Jordan Love, Utah State: 319 yards, 31 points
It was still August when Michigan State opened the season with Utah State in what was supposed to be an easy win. But Love pushed the Aggies up and down the field all night and had a lead until the Spartans scored with 2 minutes to go. It didn’t seem like it at the time, but it turned out this Utah State team was really good. The Aggies won 10 in a row after that before losing to Boise State in the season finale. They won their bowl game to finish the season 11-2. Love finished the season with xxxx yards and 32 touchdown passes.
Manny Wilkins, Arizona State: 380 yards, upset win
Wilkins led Arizona State on three long fourth-quarter drives, erasing a 10-point Spartans lead in the final period for a 16-13 win. His 380 yards were a season high and what it proved the most was that the Spartans couldn’t made a stop of third down. It was a problem all night long. It was a mess that the Spartans had given up 699 yards through the air in just two week.s
Trace McSorley, Penn State: 192 yards, big Spartans win
In what turned to be Michigan State’s best win of the season, the Spartans kept veteran senior Trace McSorley in check all night long in a 21-17 win. The preseason Heisman Trophy candidate never got untracked and threw for just 192 yards. Penn State was ranked No. 8 in the country at the time, so it seemed like things were getting better for the Spartans.
Shea Patterson, Michigan: 212 yards and 2 touchdowns in by UM win
Michigan’s defense gets most of the credit for this week because it was completely suffocating, but Patterson did a great job of picking the Spartans defense apart when he had to. The big play was a 79-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones. It was more than enough to turn this rivalry back around. Michigan State had won eight of the previous 10 games, but now it feels like the swing has begun.
David Blough, Purdue: 3 interceptions in a big MSU win
Blough was probably the hottest quarterback in the country when he arrived in East Lansing on Oct. 27. He had just torched then No. 2 Ohio State in a 49-20 rout and had 13 touchdown passes in his previous five games. But Michigan State pressured him all night long and he never could get Purdue’s offense going in Michigan State’s 23-13 win. It was the first night all year where the secondary made big plays from start to finish.
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
Dwayne Haskins, a Heisman Trophy finalist who broke several Big Ten records this season, had just 227 yards and one touchdown against the Spartans in Ohio State’s easy 26-6 win. It was his lowest yardage total of the year, which is saying something for a guy who threw for 4,580 yards and 47 touchdowns this season.
Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
Nebraska’s freshman sensation, quarterback Adrian Martinez, couldn’t do anything against Michigan State’s defense for the longest time, but made just enough plays to get a 9-6 win on a horrible weather day. He had only 145 yards.
Stopping Oregon and Herbert will be made more difficult by the fact that Michigan State cornerback Justin Layne will miss the bowl game after declaring his intention to leave for the NFL draft. Layne made his decision last week and told Spartans coach Mark Dantonio that he would be skipping the bowl game to prepare for the draft. Dantonio wasn’t happy.
“Everybody these days has a different philosophy on how these things are working out,” Dantonio said. “My philosophy is you finish, you finish the season, that includes playoff or bowl games. Other people feel differently. Doesn’t mean that I’m right and they’re wrong, just a difference of philosophy.”
The players understand, and have Layne’s back.
“That was the best decision for him and his family,” defensive tackle Raequan Williams said Thursday. “I respect everything everyone does on this team. It’s a brotherhood on this team. Everybody loves J-Layne, everybody respects his decision. There’s no hard feelings.”