Michigan State Stumbles To Bowl Eligibility With 19-16 Win Over A Bad Maryland Team
East Lansing, MI
In what’s been a disappointing season, Michigan State closed out its regular season on Saturday afternoon as the Spartans welcomed in Maryland on Senior Day, looking to pick up a sixth win on the season and secure a bowl bid.
In a game where the Spartans were heavily favored, the Michigan State offense disappeared throughout the game, but after falling behind 16-13 in the third quarter the Spartans used two Matt Coghlin field goals, including one with 2:14 left to play to pull out an ugly 19-16 win to become bowl eligible.
All indicators are that Michigan State will play on December 26 at Ford Field in Detroit for their bowl game. That is what quietly inside the Athletic Department they want. Traveling there will save the Spartan athletic department close to $2 million dollars because of travel.
However with an Illinois loss today, that opens the possibility of play on December 27 in New York City in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Michigan State would get things going on their first offensive drive as a 21-yard run by Elijah Collins, followed by a 22-yard pass from senior quarterback Brian Lewerke to Jalen Nailor helped set up a 40-yard Coghlin field goal, giving the Spartans a 3-0 lead early on.
But on their next drive, the Spartans would drive inside the Maryland 10-yard line, only to be turned away after an unsuccessful run on 4th-and-1. The failure to convert on 4th-and-1 was an unsettling sight for Michigan State fans after the Spartans failed to convert on a pair of 4th-and-short opportunities against Rutgers last week.
The Spartan defense responded with a forced fumble and fumble recovery inside the Maryland 20-yard line only to see the offense squander another opportunity as Lewerke’s pass on the first play of the ensuing drive was underthrown and picked off by Maryland’s Marcus Lewis in the end zone.
Lewerke would throw another interception on his next pass after the defense forced a Maryland 3-and-out as the offense continued to look out of sorts.
The Terrapins would take full advantage of Michigan State’s second straight miscue as Josh Jackson connected with Dontay Demus Jr. for a 44-yard strike, giving Maryland a 7-3 lead with under a minute left in the first quarter.
Michigan State would answer on its next possession with a 10-play, 57-yard drive, highlighted by a 27-yard pass from Lewerke to Cody White to move the ball down inside Maryland’s 20-yard line, but the drive stalled out as the Spartans settled for a 36-yard field goal by Coghlin, cutting Maryland’s lead to 7-6 with 11:45 left in the second quarter.
The Spartans would then regain the lead with a methodical 12-play drive that went 73 yards in just under five minutes as three catches by Tre Mosley helped Michigan State move inside Maryland territory and a 24-yard pass to White moved the Spartans into the red zone, helping set up a 1-yard run by Lewerke to give Michigan State a 13-7 lead with 3:08 left before halftime.
Lewerke finished Saturday’s affair completing 30 of his 40 pas attempts for 342 yards, but threw two interceptions. White led the way for Michigan State receivers with four grabs for 84 yards, while true freshmen Tre Mosley (eight catches, 73 yards), Anthony Williams Jr. (five catches, 63 yards) and Julian Barnett (three catches, 43 yards) made big impacts in the passing game as well.
In the third quarter, the Spartan offense again disappeared, while the Maryland offense showed signs of life as the Terrapins took the lead back after scoring on their first two possessions of the second half.
After a Joseph Petrino 33-yard field goal cut Michigan State’s lead to 13-10, Maryland would find the end zone on the first play of its next drive as a 66-yard touchdown run from Anthony McFarland Jr. gave the Terrapins a 16-13 lead with 11:10 left in the third quarter following a missed extra point.
In the fourth quarter, the Michigan State defense would come away with a third takeaway, recovering a fumble in its own end and the offense finally managed to capitalize, driving into Maryland territory, but again came away with just a field goal, tying the game up at 16-16 with under 10 minutes left to play.
The Spartans would take their first lead since the early stages of the second half with just 2:14 left to play as Coghlin booted his fourth field goal, this time from 33 yards out to give Michigan State a 19-16 lead.
In total, Michigan State made seven trips into the red zone but came away with measly 19 points on the day, which the latest example of the team’s offensive struggles in 2019.
Maryland’s final drive would start near midfield, as the Terrapins looked to tie the game or take a late lead, but the Spartan defense forced a turnover on downs, sealing Michigan State’s sixth win and a bowl berth.
Michigan State will now wait to find out where they will play in their bowl game when the pairings are released next weekend.
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