I spent almost an hour a few weeks ago reading a LONG article in Sports Illustrated about how Urban Meyer's family assented to letting him return to coaching college football only after he signed a pledge to them promising he would change his ways: that he would be more mellow; that he would possess (and display) a more developed sense of perspective and priority. I was happy for him. The article quoted him as saying that his behavior at Florida was such that it both adversely affected his health and damaged his family. So I thought, "good on him". And I mentally wished him he best. And I in so doing I was duped. Anybody who saw Urbie on the Spartan Stadium sideline Saturday now knows that the entire SI article about The New Urban Meyer, every word of it, was utter bullshit. There he was, completely out-of-control, (making fucking Woody Hayes seem mellow for Christ's sake), going 20 yards out onto the field to argue a penalty and only by some miracle NOT being flagged for a fifteen-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. I'll tell you what, I was sure he was going to assault himself a zebra right then and there. Not that there is anything in particular wrong with that. That's just how coaches, by and large, are. Just don't go telling a national publication and by extension me, how you are a changed man, 'kay? And now we learn that Meyer sent Michigan State an incomplete game film the week before the game, a tape edited so the Spartan coaching staff wouldn't be able to see the shifts and formation changes the Buckeyes were making prior to snapping the ball. It wasn't a huge deal, it was just a crappy, unsportsmanlike, unprofessional bush league thing to do. So, now we know the truth about Urban Meyer. He's the same jagoff asshole he's always been. So fuck him.
Tim Staudt, one of the best sportscasters in America but a guy you probably have never heard of if you don't live in the Lansing area (he's been on the air here since I was an MSU student and I was an MSU student a long, long time ago) coined a phrase in advance of last week's Massachusetts at Michigan game. With UM favored by fifty-something, he called it not a football game, but rather a "football demonstration."
That's what we have here this afternoon with MSU giving 33 against an Eastern Michigan team which has never, ever defeated a Big Ten opponent (0-30), and which is 0-8 all-time against the Spartans.
The nub of it is this: no matter what they do here at Spartan Stadium this afternoon, MSU can't win. If they blow 'em out by 50 everybody will say, "Big deal, it's Eastern. They've given up 37 at Ball State, 31 to Illinois State (not Illinois, Illinois State), and 54 to Purdue. That's 122 points in 3 games!" If State doesn't win by 50, it will feel like a loss.
What happened last week in that 20-3 loss to Notre Dame on a Saturday night which began with MSU ranked 10th in the nation; with both expectations and the Goodyear Blimp sky high; with a National TV audience tuned in? The explanation is, as is so often the case, oh-so simple: MSU got beat at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. Notre Dame--rushing four against the Spartans five for most of the night--kept the pressure on MSU quarterback Andrew Maxwell while holding Le'Veon Bell to 77 yards on 19 carries. (Although it seemed odd to most of us that in a game in which MSU was down only 11 for most of the second half, they gave the ball to Bell only four (4!) times after halftime.) The defensive line allowed ND to rush for more than twice as many yards as MSU (122-50) and rarely got pressure on Irish quarterback Everett Golson. Additionally, Spartan receivers dropped way too many balls and the harried Maxwell made a few poor decisions.
The result is a humbled Spartan team falling to #20 with plenty to work on here this afternoon.
The more interesting game, and the more interesting question is how will Notre Dame do against Michigan tonight in South Bend (7:30 Eastern on NBC). Michigan has beaten ND three straight, scoring the winning touchdown in the final thirty seconds in each of those games, including last year's Game for the Ages when ND scored the go-ahead TD with :30 left on the clock, only to see UM win it with a TD with :02 left. It was one of the best college games ever played. Here's a nice stat. We mentioned the Wolverines have won those 3 in a row against the Irish. The last time Michigan beat Notre Dame four in a row was in 1908.
We'll probably get home from East Lansing in time for the second half.
The Spartan Band takes the field at we're about fifteen away from kickoff. We'll keep you posted....
(Oh, Central just hit a walk-off field goal after recovering an on-side kick and they beat Iowa 32-31. The Press Box erupted. Fans here in East Lansing know exactly how this feels since that is exactly what the Chips did right here in this Stadium, what, three years ago?)
State gets the ball to start the game and converts a third and one before going and three and out on the next set of down and punting. On 3rd and ten, Maxwell made a poor decision and tucked it under way to early. Eastern was only rushing three, and Maxwell had time to look for an open man but he didn't take it. The Eagles pick up a first and they move into MSU territory the first time they have the ball today.
The Eagles for for it on 4th and one at the MSU 36 but are denied, so, after a TV timeout (the game is on the Big Ten Network which sort of counts as TV) the Spartans will commence their second possession of the afternoon. It was, by the way, 58 degrees at kickoff under mostly cloudy skies and the wind was blowing out of the northwest at either 8 or 13 miles per hour, depending on which source one chooses to believe. Right now, wind does not appear to be a factor down on the field.
Maxwell is driving me nuts. After Bell ran for 22 and 15 yards on consecutive carries, Maxwell threw underneath and incomplete to Aaron Burbridge. Even had the ball been caught, Burbidge--the freshman from Farmington Hills Harrison (I called Harrison's 27-20 loss to Southfield last night, a game Harrison led 17-0 at the half after holding the Bluejays to 2 yards of offense in the first half)--would never had made the line to make. We saw the same thing numerous times last Saturday night, Maxwell failing to throw to a receiver who had made it to the first down marker on a third down passing attempt. He has to improve in that regard. Oh, and then Dan Conroy missed from 39 (his 3rd FG miss this season) and it remains scoreless here with now under 5 to play in the first.
Bell, 62y in 8 rushes, gains 16 on first down but Maxwell misses badly on a pair of third-and-12 throws and that is that. The Spartans punt again. Still no score. Not a sellout here today, by the way. It appears a lot of the students have elected to spend the afternoon in their dorm rooms.
Did we mention Purdue scored 54 on these guys last week? MSU fails to score in the first quarter here today, gaining 84 yards of total offense, 76 of those by Bell on ten carries. After One: EMU 0, MSU 0.
Bell gets to 100 yards on his 13th carry with a little over 12 minutes left in the second but the drive stalls so Conroy comes on to hit a 35y field goal with 10:06 left in the first half. Points are on the board at long last and MSU leads EMU 3-0.
Uh, Michigan State, giving 33, is trailing Eastern Michigan at halftime here 7-3. Picking up where they left off against Notre Dame when they were 1/8 in second half third-down conversions, MSU goes 1/8 on third down in the first half today. Maxwell is 9/19 for 31 yards. The only bright spot--and I mean the only bright spot, is Le'Veon Bell: 117y on 17 rushes. An MSU fumble gave the Eagles the ball at the Spartan 23 and Eastern got a TD toss on the first snap after the turn. HALFTIME: EASTERN MICHIGAN 7, MICHIGAN STATE 3.
Bell carries on each of the first 5 plays run by MSU in the second half, so he has more touches in the second half today (5) than he did in the entire second half last Saturday night (4). Maxwell thrown underneath again on third down so MSU comes up short and Conroys hits a 45y FG with 9:25 left in 3rd. MSU pulls to within one, trails 7-6.
Here's the good news. I don't think EMU can move the ball on MSU. The Eagles have 84y of offense and only 4 first downs. So, if the Spartans donn't turn it over again, they should be able to come back and win this thing.
EMU turns it over at their 41 and MSU gains a grand total of 3y, punts. Frustrating.
Maxwell finally hits a couple downfield--finding TE Dion Sims for 16 and then 17 on consecutive plays. Holding (naturally) stalls the drive and Conroy's 3rd field goal of the day is a 35-yarder that gives MSU a 9-7 lead with 1:11 left in the third.
Touchdown, MSU. Been a while. Maxwell hits Sims (4 2nd-half catches) with a ten-yard scoring strike as MSU goes 89 in 12 to move ahead 16-7. 7:19 left, so it looks like they will get out of here with a win. I have to leave for the post-game interviews in a couple of minutes which is a shame because I've been watching the A's-Yankees game out of the corner of my eye and what a show in the Bronx. Oakland hit three homes and scored 4 in the top of the 13th for a 9-5 lead, NY has just scored 4 to tie in their half of the 13th.
Back from the interviews and I think Mark Dantonio was, well, upset. We'd ask and he'd answer, "Yes, next question." I'm pretty sure you'll see it in SportsCenter. MSU scored late while we were down on the field and they win 23-7. They will, most certainly, have to play better one week from today here to beat Ohio State. The Tigers beat the Twins 8-0, Chicago is at LA at nine. We'll be at Comerica tomorrow, we'll talk to you then.
Michigan State is in trouble here at Spartan Stadium. Their defense, which had not surrendered a touchdown in the first two games, has given up two in the first twenty minutes and the Spartans are down 14-0 with a little over 9 minutes left in the second quarter. State's offense isn't exactly lighting it up. That MSU has had 9 third down snaps already (converting 5) is telling. State is having some trouble moving the ball. Their long game is a 19-yard pass.
I think the thing to do is to remember not last years game against the Irish (a 31-13 ND win in South Bend), but rather last year's Wisconsin game here where MSU trailed 14-0 as they do tonight.
State down 14-3 at the half. Their long drive so far is 49 yards. They have been out-gained 189-121 in spite of having run 6 more plays than the Irish. They are 4 of 9 on third downs and have had ten third down snaps tonight, but one doesn't count as a play as ND was called for a penalty. Andrew Maxwell is 10/18 for 74, Notre Dame's Everett Golson is 7/19 for 126 and a TD. MSU gets the ball to start the second half...
MSU finally got a little drive going as they moved from own 11 to near midfield but a holding call and a dropped third down pass put an end to that. MSU now 4/12 on 3rd down, and they are still down 14-3 to the Irish as we move under 6 to play in third.
MSU makes first big mistake in this game--a roughing the kicker call gives ND a 1st down and keeps drive alive under 4 to go in 3rd.
Total y about even & ND has no drive longer than 51y-but have scored on both their 51y drives. MSU long drive 49y. In 4th now 14-3 ND
If ND weren't 1/10 in 3rd down coveresions, I'll tell you what, this game would probably be over. 3rd down #14 coming up for MSU now and they fail and are 4-14 after a complete pass is short of the line to make.
As I settle in for the afternoons activity here at Ford Field, here's what's on my mind prior to the Lions season opener: HOW CAN THE TIGERS BE A .448 TEAM ON THE ROAD AND A .606 TEAM AT HOME? HOW? I'm going to read the Game Notes now and maybe take a Xanex and will report back soon on football-related matters.
So, just the past Monday I happened to be outside Gaylord Family Stadium, home of the Oklahoma Sooners, and I saw Sam Bradford's statue. I didn't even know he had a statue. But he does. So too do former Lions Billy Sims and Steve Owens. So there is that. Truth be told, I don't know what to make of any of this, except that here in person this afternoon I'll see Bradford in real life as he QB's the St. Louis Rams.
Stafford smartly drives Lions down field on first drive of 2012, 77 in 13, 6 Firsts. He's 7/9 on the drive for 53. Only problem is that on first and goal from the 3....he throws a pick and the Lions get no points on a drive that took 6:06.
Pretty clear that St. Louis can't stop Detroit as Lions--on their second posses--drive into the Red Zone again. Trailing 3-0, but that is about to change...
Sorry, no updates for a while there. The Lions should be killing these guys (they've outgained 'em 231-91) but they aren't. 3 Matthew Stafford intercepts have led to all the points the Rams have scored here as they somehow lead the Lions 13-10 as the second half begins. St. Louis simply can't stop the Lions. The problem in the first half was that the Lions were stopping themselves. Stafford threw two Red Zone picks and the other was returned for a TD. On to the second half...
Richard Kincaide is an American author, broadcaster and storyteller. His latest title, "Legends of the Detroit Red WIngs" is in stores now. He is also the author of "The Gods of Olympia Stadium". Kincaide covers the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Lions on a regular basis. He is the play-by-play voice of the Detroit Waza Flo of the Professional Arena Soccer League. He is the Immediate Past President of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association.