The leaves are off the trees, the sun sits lower on the horizon, and with each day that passes we advance toward a future of a truly bleak nature. The late summer and autumnal dreams have faded leaving us all discomfited and searching for a lone perpetrator whom has caused our woes. The days will soon grow colder and this season will mercifully draw to a close, but we shall find no solace as we will be left with no answers and no clear vision of what next year will bring.
It isn’t as though a victory over Northwestern would have salved our wounds, but it surely may have let some of them close. If the Spartans could’ve managed to win their last two against foes which were less than daunting, and advanced to and won a mediocre bowl game, there may have been small comfort taken in such meager improvement. Left as we are with scant hopes of beating the Gophers and some token bowl berth, I struggle to find any positives to relate. The Wildacts were there for the taking but alas our Spartans did all they could to let another close game slip away. It’s been the theme for the season and they were loathe to oppose it.
We Know You Tried, Man (AP Photo)
Two first half opportunities inside the Northwestern 5 yard line netted the Spartans zero points, save for a safety which ensued after the first failure. MSU was able to move the ball and the plays were even of the aggressive nature at times but regardless of this they managed to trail 6-5 at the half. Despite what were decent offensive numbers on the day(297 passing, 122 rushing yards)the offense also generated four turnovers in a display of generosity which befits the forthcoming holiday season. Andrew Maxwell tossed two interceptions to even up his two touchdowns, while Le’Veon Bell did all he could by lugging the mail 32 times for 133 yards. Maxwell spread the ball to seven different receivers, with Dion Sims(5 rec., 102 yds.) and Keith Mumphery(6 rec., 79 yds.)among the leaders. The touchdown passes went to Lippett and Burbridge. Looking upon the contributions from a diverse group I am reminded of just how costly turnovers really are. The Spartans dominated the game on paper in just about every phase except for that all important one.
The defense wasn’t perfect despite the need for them to be, but it’s certainly difficult to fault a few breakdowns when the offense had so many once again. On the day they only surrendered about 300 yards to a team that averages about 400. This unit played well enough to win in the end, as they have most of the season. Northwestern was 3-14 on third down and averaged 5.7 yards per pass, and 2.1 yards per rush. These are clearly not numbers which scream a defensive let down. It’s tough to be put in difficult positions time and again due to turnovers and maintain focus, but this group did just that. One of Northwestern’s touchdowns came via a pick-six, so sadly they could do nothing to stop that play.
In the end it was a compelling tilt filled with a large amount of frustration and a kicker named Conroy who is probably hiding under his bed right now. Sure, it was another narrow defeat but as much fun as it can be to harangue the kicker we should all remember that it should never have been so close to begin with. You can’t lose the turnover battle by that margin and hope to come away with a victory. The 2012 season is nearly done and it has been one to forget. Onward and upward, people. Go check out the basketball page as it may lighten your spirits.