No. 2 Michigan State escapes Purdue
Final: No. 2 Michigan State 24, Purdue 21
Telling stat: Connor Cook’s 13-of-19 passing for 139 yards
For whatever reason, the Spartans are not putting the ball in the hands of the nation’s winningest quarterback. Cook was a game-manager yet again. I thought we’d finally see Cook air it out and take some big shots downfield. Instead, the Spartans remained conservative in the second half and struggled to distance their lead. For all the praise Cook has been getting, he hasn’t had the monster offensive game we’ve all been waiting for. Concerning is the fact that the Spartans only converted 5-of-14 third-down attempts. This was a Purdue secondary that Michigan State could’ve taken some chances on. As a result of the conservative game plan, Cook had his least productive day in over a year.
Key play: Arjen Colquhoun breaks up Purdue fourth-down conversion
It took until Purdue’s final play of the game for the Spartans to finally close the door. Colquhoun broke up David Blough’s fourth-down pass to preserve the victory. Chris Frey forced the freshman signal-caller into a quick decision and the Spartans were able to get the stand they needed. Credit Blough for even having a chance to come up with a fourth-down play to keep the Boilermakers’ hopes alive against the nation’s No. 2 team.
-Markell Jones rips up MSU in first career start
This kid is special. The true freshman took advantage of his first career start and nearly led the Boilers to an importable victory. He ripped off 157 yards and two scores, one of which came on a 68-yard run that flashed his breakaway speed. In a game in which Purdue fell behind early, game flow should’ve prevented the running game from getting going. Instead, Darrell Hazell stuck with it and Jones delivered. D.J. Knox was nursing a bone bruise and only registered two carries in this one. If Jones runs like that, the Boilers won’t need a two-headed rushing attack.
-L.J. Scott looks like feature back again
Speaking of freshmen running backs, how can you not be impressed by Scott? He paced the Spartans with two first-quarter touchdowns and finished the day with 146 yards on just 18 carries. His lower-body strength is unmatched by anybody in the Spartans backfield. His first career 100-yard game also saw him out-touch Madre London. It’s clear that Dantonio likes using both and for now, that’s working better than the passing game.
What it means: Michigan State’s second-half struggles are real
The Spartans came into Saturday as the No. 2 team, despite the fact that they hadn’t covered a spread yet. Why? Well, the Spartans had been outscored in the second half. Saturday was supposed to put an end to that. Well, that didn’t happen. The Spartans took their foot off the gas on both sides of the ball. For the second straight week, the Spartans only led by one score in the fourth quarter against a team it should’ve demolished. For as much as we’ve talked about the Buckeyes’ early struggles, the Spartans have had just as many second-half woes. When the they face better B1G teams, that won’t fly.