Edson: Where Does MSU Go From Here?
Four years ago, they were in the four-team College Football Playoff and looking to capture a national title.
Now, the Michigan State Spartans football team looks like a shell of its former self after a 44-10 drubbing at the hands of Michigan on Saturday.
There are calls for head coach Mark Dantonio to resign. Social media is abuzz with how the Spartans failed to shake up their coaching staff last off-season. Several MSU players entered the transfer portal during the year.
This once solid and stable program is in turmoil and even the most faithful Spartan fans are shaking their heads.
What we saw on Saturday was complete domination by a Michigan football team that has suddenly come alive in the second half of the season after two earlier losses.
The only bad news the Wolverines received Saturday came after Ohio State romped to a 56-21 victory over Rutgers. It assured that Michigan could not win its division title or play in the Big Ten title game again. But there is still an outside shot at the Rose Bowl if a series of improbable events happened.
For now, coach Jim Harbaugh is beaming. In the off-season, he took a chance and brought in a new offensive coordinator – Josh Gattis – from outside the Wolverine ranks. It took a few games, but now Gattis and his players are hitting on all cylinders.
Meanwhile, Dantonio chose to stay with his current staff and just switch around a few roles. Kudos to Dantonio for his loyalty. But the results have been disastrous.
Nothing illustrates the difference in these two programs more than the play of their quarterbacks. Shea Patterson is finally living up to his hype. He was sensational against Michigan State as the Wolverines produced 467 yards in total offense.
Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke continues to look lost. Part of the problem is the play-calling. The other part is that Lewerke isn’t playing with any confidence.
Yet, if the Spartans win their final two games against Rutgers and Maryland, they can still go to a bowl game.
And Michigan will probably end up in one of the better bowl games – the Outback Bowl or the Holiday Bowl.
The difference is, the Wolverines know their future looks a little brighter these days.
On the flip side, the Spartans aren’t sure what their future holds at all.
Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.