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Posts Tagged ‘Michigan State’

Notre Dame Pushes Back Against M.S.U.

Earlier this summer, I wrote of Notre Dame’s ability to “push back” against more physical opponents – in the widescreen view, I wrote of Notre Dame’s quest for a tougher mentality, a sort of rediscovery of the bullying, confident mindset that propelled the program for generations. I thought that the Irish were close; I thought that under the surface, behind the negativity, the program had made clear and steady progress in nearly every facet of the game. No one game can possibly encapsulate this idea more so than Notre Dame’s dominating victory over Michigan State.

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    Pick 10, F.B.S. Notebook: Week 3 (Sept. 15)

    Do you remember the last time Notre Dame took a trip to East Lansing? You might not remember the game’s first 60 minutes and change, but that’s fine: things didn’t get wild until overtime, when Michigan State answered a Notre Dame field goal with the most audacious coaching decision of the 2010 season. Now you remember, right? Dan Conroy is lined up for the potentially game-tying 46-yard field goal; Aaron Bates, the punter and team captain, was the holder; tight end Charlie Gantt was lined up one spot inside from the edge to Conroy’s right. The call: “Little Giants.” The snap went to Bates, as expected – and then came the unexpected. You’ll see the rest of the play later tonight, when the Irish and Spartans meet in one of the day’s marquee games. Let’s run down the entire weekend’s action.

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      P.S.R. 1-124: Week 3 Re-Ranking

      With the weekend in the books, here’s a look at how the country ranks — using the original rankings as the starting point, with the season’s results as rationale for any movement. The top 25 teams land a one-sentence breakdown. The rest? Not so much. Part of the perks of being one of the best. Think your team is too low? Feel another team deserves more credit, less credit? Let’s hear it below. It’s a delicate ranking process, particularly with only two weeks in the books, so you may see one team ranked below a team it just beat — see Louisiana-Monroe and Arkansas, for example. Don’t be alarmed. Everything will become clearer by the end of the month.

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        Wisconsin, Nebraska Leave the Picture

        Well, when your marquee win comes against Vanderbilt, as highly as we all think of the Commodores, you haven’t had a good day. It was a terrible day for the Big Ten, actually – one of the conference’s worst non-conference weekends in recent memory, trumping last weekend, which was defined by only one bad loss, not multiple losses. It was one weak game after another, beginning at noon, gaining steam around midday and then culminating, at nearly midnight, by an unforgivably bad performance from a program once defined by the pride it took in getting stops on the defensive side of the ball. From this entire group, a clutch of sour showings tinged with feel-good victories, two losses stand out above the rest.

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          P.S.R. 1-124: Week 2 Re-Ranking

          With the weekend in the books, here’s a look at how the country ranks — using the original rankings as the starting point, with the season’s results as rationale for any movement. The top 25 teams land a one-sentence breakdown. The rest? Not so much. Part of the perks of being one of the best. Think your team is too low? Feel another team deserves more credit, less credit? Let’s hear it below. It’s a delicate ranking process, particularly with only one week in the books, so you may see one team ranked below a team it just beat — see Texas State and Houston, for example. Don’t be alarmed. Everything will become clearer by the end of the month.

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            No. 7: Michigan State

            Last fall, Michigan State beat Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan in the same season for only the second time in program history; the first, in 1987, came during the Spartans’ last outright Big Ten title. Rare? Beating all three of those conference rivals in one year is as rare as 11-win seasons, of which the Spartans have two in as many years. But none before 2010, a point that the rest of the Big Ten pointed out with glee prior to Michigan State’s current resurgence under Mark Dantonio. Now, after 22 wins over two years, those same rivals have only questions: How have the Spartans done it? How can we copy it? The simple answer: Take a system, add a serious heaping of patience and throw in a helpful dash of senior leadership. Add more patience. Wait, and don’t watch: it’ll never boil, or something to that end. And now that the Spartans have lost last year’s senior leaders — along with a number of other key contributors — the program has a question of its own: Can we maintain this sort of pace without our stars? Again, it’s time to have faith in the system.

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              The Best Saturday Ever! (Until Nov. 10)

              It’s official: Alabama’s trip to L.S.U. on Nov. 3 will be in prime time. Surprise, surprise. All that’s left is to find a seat and cancel any and all previous engagements — and now might be a good time to start laying the groundwork for a cold, if you’re one of the unlucky few due to make an appearance at a wedding on the first Saturday of November.

              That’s not all that’s cooking on Nov. 3. There’s another date between Oregon and U.S.C., this time in the Coliseum, which should likewise be under consideration for an 8 p.m. start on the East Coast. There’s Missouri at Florida. Nebraska at Michigan State. Oklahoma State at Kansas State. Among others. It’s the best weekend of the college football season.

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                Smith Is Ready for a One-Year “Fight”

                For starters, John L. Smith’s introductory press conference — his reintroduction, actually — had the assembled media presence looking forward to this summer’s media days. You can add Smith to the list of SEC coaches who, when given the opportunity, create must-see TV: Miles, Dooley, Spurrier and all have a new partner, and the league becomes even more interesting from Sunday through Friday. But what’s left to be asked? Smith hit on all the main points during his press conference, candidly answering questions on how he reconnected with Arkansas, how he views his short-term task, what he’ll change, if anything, and whether this will be his last go-round in major college football.

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.