Massacre In Madison, Michigan State Spartans Blown Out By the Wisconsin Badgers
Camp Randall Stadium
With opportunities to salvage its season dwindling, Michigan State visited No. 8 Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon, needing a major effort that could help change the outlook on the remainder of 2019 for the Spartans.
But instead, the Spartans turned in a second straight lackluster performance against one of the nation’s best as Wisconsin rolled to a 38-0 win on a day the Michigan State offense was thoroughly embarrassed by the top-ranked defense in the country in one of the worst losses in the Mark Dantonio era at Michigan State.
On just its second drive of the game, Wisconsin (6-0 overall; 3-0 Big Ten) offense made easy work of the Michigan State defense, using an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard run by star running back Jonathan Taylor to give the Badgers a 7-0 lead.
After the Michigan State (4-3 overall; 2-2 Big Ten) offense went three-and-out on its second drive of the game, the Badgers continued moving the ball with relative ease, needing eight plays to drive 75 yards as quarterback Jack Coan connected with Quintez Cephus for a 19-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter, extending the Wisconsin lead to 14-0.
With the Spartans unable to do anything offensively, running just 12 plays on their first three drives, the punishing, ball control Wisconsin offense continued wearing down the Spartan defense in the second quarter. The Badgers used another long scoring drive, this time a 14-play drive that used over seven minutes of clock to set up a 29-yard Collin Larsh field goal to push the lead to 17-0 with 4:30 left in the second quarter and that’s how a lopsided first half would come to an end.
The first half was a prime example of how big the gap between the Michigan State offense and the top offense’s in the Big Ten is. In a game where the Spartan offense needed to be able to sustain drives in order to keep the Wisconsin offense off the field, but instead, Michigan Stat ran just 18 plays totaling 38 yards and possessed the ball for just 6:34. Conversely, Wisconsin ran 40 plays and possessed the ball for over 23 minutes in the first half.
In the second half, things only got worse for the Spartans. After what looked to be another quick offensive possession to start the third quarter, Michigan State reached into its bag of tricks and used a fake punt run by Tyriq Thompson for a gain of 20 yards into Wisconsin territory in what looked to be a last-ditch effort to jump-start an anemic offense.
But instead, the Spartans were forced to punt after allowing two sacks and committing a penalty, ending what was their only serious possession in Wisconsin territory.
And Wisconsin’s ensuing drive was a back-breaker for Michigan State. A 15-play, 92-yard drive that took nearly nine minutes of game time ended with Taylor’s second touchdown of the day, pushing Wisconsin’s lead to 24-0 early in the fourth quarter.
While Taylor has been a major problem for opposing defenses all year long and throughout his career, Michigan State mostly held the star running back in check on Saturday, holding him to just 80 yards on 26 carries.
On the third play of Michigan State’s next drive, senior quarterback Brian Lewerke threw an ill-advised pass over the middle that was intercepted by Zack Baun and returned for a 34-yard touchdown, making it 31-0 with 12:52 left to play.
Wisconsin would later put the finishing touches on its win that could catapult the Badgers into the top five teams in the country with a 66-yard touchdown run by Kendric Pryor to make it 38-0.
The Spartan offense looked unprepared, unimaginative and completely lost from the start on Saturday on its way to a paltry 149 yards of total offense and two turnovers.
The kind of ineptitude shown on offense is just the latest example from the past few years of an offensive coaching staff that has repeatedly proven to be incapable of consistently putting together an offensive game plan worthy of a major Division 1 program or a team expecting to compete.
The Spartans will have plenty of time to reflect on Saturday’s dismantling as they have a bye week next week, before returning to action against Penn State in two weeks.
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