Monday, October 26, 2009

Actually, This Is Just MSU Finding Its Level

There are two ways of looking at Michigan State's season thus far.
One is that the Spartans are just the width of a hair away from being atop the Big Ten, and ranked among the Top 25 teams in the country.
Another is the Spartans are still quite a bit away from becoming a bonafide, year-after-year force in college football.
Like most such questions involving conflicting results, the answer lies somewhere in-between.
It is encouraging to MSU's faithful that the Spartans are in most games, that they play tough, fundamental football and have beaten Michigan two straight years.
It's also, true, however the sign of a top program is the ability to close. There were no excuses for what happened in the Central Michigan game. The Spartans let it get away. Very simple.
They made a nice comeback at Notre Dame, but didn't make the clinching play. The overthrow in the end zone did happen. So did the untimely interception. Iowa did go the length of the field when MSU had the game in hand at home Saturday night. Bottom line.
And even State's biggest triumph this season - the victory over the Wolverines - only came after the Spartans could hold a significant lead and were forced to overtime.
State is a 4-4 team. It is a team that is destined for the middle of the pack in the conference standings this season and probably a secondary bowl game. It's not an overly talented team. It's still a young team. The Spartans play hard and are generally well-coached - although what tends to happen late in games does send up some red flags. State also had trouble closing during Mark Dantonio's first season in 2007, as well.
The Spartans are making progress to a brighter future. The close-but-no-cigar losses are likely part of the growing pains. It would be naive, however, to believe the Spartans just missed hitting their mark this soon because of several close losses this season.
It's been more like water finding its level.

Random Thoughts

- All the pressure is on the Yankees in the World Series. If they lose, all the euphoria of Sunday night will quickly be gone. A-Rod will be a A-Roid again and sales of Kate Hudson's DVDs will nose dive. The Phillies won it last year. The Yankees haven't won the World Series in nearly a decade. They will deemed as chokers if they don't come through.

- The Rams won't be the pushover for the Lions a lot of people think. Steven Jackson is still capable of controling the running game. His talents are wasted on that team.

- Hey, did you know Brett Favre is playing at Lambeau Field Sunday? Are we going to get hammered over the head with that story this week or what? If the Packers win that game, though, the NFC North is going to get very interesting. All of a sudden, the Packers and Vikings would be even in the loss column

My column in Monday's Oakland Press about where the Lions stand at the bye week:



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