Spartans Lose, But Fight Until the End! They Show the Spartan Nation That They Are Headed In the Right Direction!

Hondo S. Carpenter

October 20, 2007

Columbus, OH

Ohio Stadium

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It was a tale of two halves. The first half was marred by missed tackles, a special teams mistake and a key turnover. Mistakes were the nemesis of the Spartans, not the Ohio State Buckeyes.Â

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The Spartans never really got a chance to see how they measured up against the Buckeyes in the first half. They gave the number one team in the nation multiple opportunities to bury them. Some may say that the Spartans did show steps of measurement. Maybe they did. The first half was so one sided that even the Buckeye faithful felt bad for Mark Dantonio's team.

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The Buckeyes started their first two drives inside their own 10 yard line. Both drives culminated in TD’s that happened because of shoddy tackling. The Buckeyes came into the game the number one team in the nation. They gave every indication that they were deserving of their lofty ranking in the first half. In fact, MSU probably played their worst half of the season and they made it appear as if Ohio State is in a stratosphere that the Spartans don’t even belong.

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How bad were the first half stats? The score was 17-0 but the Buckeyes had 241 yards in offense compared to an anemic 74 for MSU. MSU could muster nothing on offense and it appeared as if this game was over. It was the first half and the first half of the third quarter that spotted the number one team in the nation a 24-0 lead.

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Well there is an old saying that goes something like this, “That is why they play the game.” In the second half of the third quarter, our Spartans came out and still struggled against the great OSU defense, but the Spartans found a little defense of their own. The Spartans gave up one TD in the third quarter, but they were able to score two defensive touchdowns. It was the defense that struggled in MSU’s previous two losses, but today it was the offense. The Buckeyes have the number one defense in college football; it was Pat Narduzzi’s guys that got the Spartans back in the game.

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In the end the Spartans kept fighting. In the end they never quit. They certainly demonstrated to everyone that watched this contest that Mark Dantonio is turning this program around. MSU lost, but they fought and they made Spartans everywhere proud.

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Walking out of the stadium some fans yelled at me; I told them that in year one of a rebuilding effort, the Spartans came in and lost by seven to the number one team in the land. Yeah, I wanted this one bad. Certainly the Spartans have to be encouraged and more importantly see that every remaining game on their schedule is winnable. You saw the model to follow in Ohio State. This is where the Spartans are headed. MSU is building a "Tressel-like" program under Dantonio; this is a good thing.

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I said in my pre-game scouting report that if these teams played ten times, the Buckeyes would win seven of them. Today was one of those seven.

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When you review a game, before you can call out a coaching staff, you have to look and see if the right formations were called. Today it was evident that that Spartans have the right staff. One day MSU will become what they have determined as their role model. OSU, never outschemed Michigan State. MSU just does not have the horses. Today gives the Spartan Nation hope. We have a staff that can game plan for a number one team. Two more positive plays could have changed the day.

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As I look out over the empty Ohio Stadium, I am disappointed with our loss, but I am not discouraged. This team showed heart and this team showed purpose. They have leadership; they have direction. This was a game that any Spartan who was honest with themselves at the season's beginning marked MSU down for a loss. It wasn’t a blow out. It was a measuring stick. We have to maintain reasonable expectations. You have to like where we are eight games into a rebuilding project.

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Look at your schedule. At the start of the season many people wrote off the last five games. With four to go I am not predicting we win all four, but I challenge you to point to one that is an automatic loss. You can’t. In year one of a major rebuilding project I can live with that.

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As I prepare to leave for home, I can’t help but think back two years to the last time MSU was here, and the infamous, “Coaches are screwing it up line,” from JLS. I also can’t help but reflect upon last season’s embarrassment in East Lansing. I never will, nor do I ever want to leave a game happy with a loss. I am not with the loss, but I am happy with the effort. More importantly, I am proud to be a member of the Spartan Nation and the direction we are headed under MD. My only regret is that we aren’t getting into the Hondo Vega and driving to Iowa City to play the Hawkeyes tomorrow. Truth be told, I am sure that all of you feel the same way.

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Rest easy Spartan Nation. We are making progress. The future is bright. My Dad always reminded me growing up that it isn't the size of the dog in the fight, but the it is the size of the fight in the dog. Dantonio calls his players Spartan Dawgs. They may not be the mot talented team in the nation, but I love the fight in them there dawgs...yes I know that I spelt "them there" the way it is!

THANKS FOR READING SPARTAN NATION
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