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First Half Analysis: Michigan State bloodied and battered after brutal 30 minutes

The Spartans have work to do to get back in this one...

That first half could not have gone much worse for Michigan State. Washington came into this game with a fire under them, and the Spartans were knocked on their heels almost immediately.

The Huskies held a 11:53-3:07 edge in time of possession and a 167-11 advantage in total yards in the first quarter, and jumped to a 16-0 lead early in the second quarter. Washington scored two touchdowns on its first three possessions, and the Huskies reached the one yard line on the drive in which they didn't score. Instead, Washington got a safety immediately after being stuffed on fourth-and-goal.

The Huskies lead grew to 22-0, before Michigan State ended the half with a much-needed touchdown drive of their own to cut the deficit to two possessions.

It looked as though the Spartans would take momentum into halftime, but Washington responded with another touchdown drive to make it 29-8 as the teams entered the locker rooms.

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Here are my thoughts on the first half:

Michigan State Offense

  • The Spartans' ground game, which was excellent against Western Michigan and Akron, but it was non-existent in the first 30 minutes tonight. Michigan State has just 11 rushing yards at halftime, and is getting no push up front with the O-line against Washington's front seven. The Spartans won't abandon the run game, but it's clear that its the pass game that will have to lead MSU back in this one.

  • Payton Thorne was on that final Michigan State drive, and is back to looking like his old self. The redshirt junior has completed 11-for-12 attempts for 80 yards and threw two great balls to Coleman to put the Spartans on the board. Thorne's accuracy has been much better in Week 3 than in either of the first two games. In a dreadful first half, Thorne was a bright spot.

Michigan State Defense

  • This looks exactly like the Spartans' defense did a season ago. Michigan State is getting shredded by Husky quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who has thrown for 278 yards and three touchdowns while completing 18-of-24 pass attempts. Chester Kimbrough has been beaten on several occasions, and Ameer Speed lost his man a couple times as well. The Spartans' aren't at full health in the secondary, but that performance was very familiar.

  • Michigan State's pass rush, which was noticeably better through the first two games, has not been able to get home yet tonight. Penix Jr. has been flushed from the pocket a couple times, but he's made plays downfield regardless. The Spartans need to get more aggressive in the second half. They can't allow the Husky QB to sit back there and pick them apart, especially facing a big deficit.