Posts tagged Connor Cook
Posts tagged Connor Cook
Nearly a week later, even in the winter wonderland that is East Lansing with more than 16 inches of snow and subzero temperatures, the magical feeling of winning the 100th Rose Bowl Game still permeates and warms the soul of Spartan fans everywhere. From Pasadena to the Breslin Center, it’s the Green and White party that just won’t quit.
This is a great article. A must read for every Spartan fan.
Bowl season and the Big Ten: It’s a match made in…well, how to put this delicately…how about a match made in purgatory?
Yes, that’s it—after all, fans of schools in the Big Ten annually get their hopes up, only to see their teams lose close game to good competition.
The 2013-14 bowl season was no different, with the Big Ten going 2-5 in the postseason and leaving many fans wondering “what if” once again.
If there was a silver lining, at least both of the Big Ten’s wins came on New Year’s Day in games where Nebraska and Michigan State were underdogs.
Meanwhile, we also are reminded about the debacles that were Michigan and Minnesota.
This year was more of the same for Big Ten fans. That familiar empty feeling of coming close and yet being so far away is getting old.
Bowl season provided plenty of lessons over the course of seven games, so let’s explore what we learned about the B1G from its bowl games.
Infographic on MSU’s Rose Bowl victory
As Mark Dantonio has said, everyone has a story. And for Michigan State team, there is no shortage of compelling tales.
Michigan State’s Connor Cook
Connor Cook was determined to shake things up in the Big Ten title game.
By the end of the night, the sophomore quarterback’s teammates were bouncing up and down right along with him.
No. 10 Michigan State rallied from a seven-point third-quarter deficit by scoring the final 17 points Saturday night to upset No. 2 Ohio State 34-24 and deny the Buckeyes a chance to play in the VIZIO BCS National Championship game.
Cook and the Spartans were more than happy to oblige.
"I think we heard people talk bad about us all year. This wasn’t the first week where we heard people say negative things about us as an offense or as a football team, Cook said after throwing a 9-yard TD pass with 11:41 left to give the Spartans a 27-24 lead. "I think we were underdogs in the majority of the games we played this year. It really didn’t affect us."
But the Spartans’ big win may prove costly in the league’s bigger picture.
A win would have made No. 2 Ohio State (12-1) a virtual lock to play in its fourth BCS title game, and there was speculation the Spartans (12-1) might go to Pasadena anyway for the Rose Bowl, regardless of Saturday night’s result. Instead, the Spartans are still likely to book their first Rose Bowl trip since the 1987 season, while the Buckeyes must wait until Sunday night to find out which bowl they’ll play in — and whether they’ll play in a BCS game.
Michigan State’s victory put Auburn, whom the Buckeyes were rooting for last week against Alabama, in the title game against Florida State.
To the Buckeyes, it was a deflating night.
"You know it’s going to haunt all of us, I imagine, for a little while," Meyer said. "But that’s part of the game."
It was a game that almost defied logic.
Ohio State came into the game with the nation’s longest winning streak (24), had not lost under Meyer in two seasons and had one of the nation’s most productive offenses and underrated defenses.
Michigan State turned the conventional wisdom upside down by scoring the first 17 points. Then the nation’s stingiest defense gave up the next 24 points as Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde & Co. took command.
Cook responded to the challenge by driving the Spartans for a field goal, hooking up with the wide open Josiah Price in the flat of the end zone and then burned 3½ critical minutes on the clinching drive, capped by Jeremy Langford’s sealing 26-yard TD run.
Cook finished 24-of-40 for a career-high 304 yards and three scores. Langford ran 24 times for 128 yards, becoming the first player this season to top 100 yards against the Buckeyes.
For Michigan State, it was a milestone night. It won its 12th game for the first time in school history, completed a perfect conference season and extended its own winning streak to nine — something it had not done since starting 1966 at 9-0.
Most important, the players got to hold the roses for the first time since 1987 and the celebration began even before the final seconds ticked off the clock.
"We’re going to live this one for a while, live it for a month," coach Mark Dantonio said. "But it’s important that we finish what we started and that will end with a bowl game."
Miller did what he could to rally the Buckeyes, finishing 8-of-21 for 101 yards with one touchdown pass. He also ran 21 times for 142 yards and two scores, while Hyde ran 18 times for 118 yards. Both joined the Buckeyes’ 3,000-yard club, becoming the seventh and eighth players of the school’s exclusive group.
Starting right guard Marcus Hall, who Meyer said would not start after last week’s fight at Michigan, did not play. Meyer said he made that decision earlier this week.
But it was the stinging loss that really hurt.
"Things happen in games, don’t really go your way," Miller said. "You’ve got to come back and fix the mistakes."
The Buckeyes did that late in the first half when they closed to 17-10 at halftime. Miller opened the second half with an 8-yard TD run to tie and then gave Ohio State the 24-17 lead with a 6-yard run with 5:36 left in the third.
Michigan State answered with Michael Geiger’s 44-yard field goal, which barely dropped over the crossbar, to make it 24-20 and Cook hooked up with a wide-open Price in the flat to make it 27-24 before Langford sealed it with his TD run with 2:16 left, which prompted Dantonio to lobby for the Spartans to be playing in the title game Jan. 6.
"I can tell you this, we beat the No. 2 team," Dantonio said. "We’re 12-1 so why not us? Why not us? I’ll vote us No. 2."
MY SPARTANS ARE GOING TO THE ROSE BOWL
Ya know, before the Michigan vs OSU game, I would’ve said that Ohio State would win, it’d be close, but the Buckeyes would get the W.
However, after that Michigan game… those Buckeyes are clearly beatable. According to the NCAA, Michigan’s total defense is only ranked 39th, where as Michigan State’s total defense is #1 in the nation (that includes the stats from yesterday’s games). When Michigan State played Michigan, MSU held UM to -48 rushing yards. Granted, Ohio State has one of the best running games in the nation, but Michigan State has the #1 running defenses in the nation and should be able to slow OSU down.
So yes, Michigan State’s defense will be able to contain OSU, but will Michigan State be able to put point on Ohio State? I don’t know. That is my biggest concern. Michigan’s total offense is ranked slightly higher (82nd) than Michigan State (84th). Michigan was able to put point on that Ohio State defense, so why can’t MSU? As long as Michigan State’s wide receivers are able to make the EASY catches, we should be golden. That has been our biggest downfall all season. If the receivers step up and catch the passed they SHOULD catch, then we will be fine.
Basically my thought process is, if Michigan can keep up with Ohio State ALL game and only lose by 1 point, then Michigan State should be able to hold their own and probably win.
I’m sure that Ohio State will be extremely motivated to beat Michigan State. If OSU wins out, they are pretty much guaranteed to play in the BCS National Championship Game now that Alabama is out of that “race” after their loss yesterday to Auburn. However, Michigan State is JUST as motivated because we haven’t won a Big Ten Championship since adding Nebraska and the conference championship game. Also, Michigan State is determined to get to the Rose Bowl. As that is a for sure thing if MSU beats Ohio State. But, with Wisconsin’s loss to Penn State, it’s almost guaranteed that Michigan State will end up in the Rose Bowl, as long as Ohio State goes to the National Championship.
So, for the Big Ten Conference Championship, I’m taking Michigan State. It will be close, but I think my Spartans can do it.
If you look at MSU’s offensive stats over the whole season, it really doesn’t do it justice. One of the major story lines following the Spartans is how much they have improved over the course of the season. If you look at the offensive statistics during conference play, it tells a more accurate story of where they are now.
Stats (adjusted for Big Ten play only)
- Passing offense - 214.1 yds/game (80th)
- Rushing offense - 185.8 yds/game (48th)
- Total offense - 399.9 yds/game (73rd)
- Scoring offense - 29.8 pts/game (60th)
- 3rd Down Conv - 48.8% (15th)
Everyone worries about MSU’s offense — I don’t. They may not light up scoreboards, but they have shown repeatedly that they can score enough points to win. Cook is one of the best in the nation on third down, and the Spartans have a balanced attack.
Ohio State is 9th in the B1G in defending third downs (40% allowed), and 68th in the nation. Even Northwestern and Nebraska are better.
Not adjusted for B1G play, Ohio State is 98th in passing defense. For all the hype the Buckeyes’ secondary got at the beginning of the season with All-American Bradly Roby, they have been gashed this year.
I worry about the defense. If the defense that shows up is the one that played against Nebraska, we are in trouble. Yes we have the No. 1 rush defense and total defense, No. 4 scoring defense (only 0.8 pts/game separates us from 1st place Florida State) and the No. 9 passing defense. However, teams with good running games have gashed the Spartans; Nebraska, Minnesota…Ohio State has the most dangerous offense in the B1G, with the best QB and best RB.
Make no mistake, this is a heavyweight fight between the top defense (MSU) and top offense (OSU) in the conference.
Tyler, I have a love/hate relationship with you. I think we need to both quit school and start a joint blog/news thing. You always put me in my place in a respectful way. LoL
Here’s all you needed to see. Late third quarter, darkness falling, Michigan State’s Connor Cook threw an interception.
“Finally, a break!” Michigan fans screamed. U-M took over inside MSU territory. The traditional drama was about to begin, right?
Uh-uh. Quarterback Devin Gardner tried to run; he was swarmed by Spartans, loss of 5. Gardner tried to pass; he was yanked down by linebacker Denicos Allen, loss of 9. He tried to throw — and was sacked again, by Allen and Ed Davis, loss of 7.
Three plays, minus-21 yards.
So it’s official. Michigan State is where the Michigan offense comes to die. In their past six meetings, the Wolverines have puffed, coughed and gasped for points, 21, 20, 17, 14, 12 and, on Saturday, a measly six. Six points? With that offense? After a bye week?
It was this rivalry’s most snuffing defeat in years, a game in which MSU put Gardner on his butt so many times, you could have called him “Divot.”
“When you look at things statistically, it’s pretty one-sided,” MSU coach Mark Dantonio admitted after the 29-6 beatdown, his fifth victory in his past six tries against the Wolverines. “That’s the way we like ’em.”
Throwdown. Six points allowed? Seven sacks? That wasn’t a victory, it was the Spartans stomping wine from maize-and-blue grapes. How about this number? The Wolverines were averaging 184 yards rushing.
They finished Saturday with minus-48.
That is not a typo. Minus-48! Taylor Lewan said this past week that it was no fun for the Wolverines to be bullied.
Maybe they should stop coming here.
Because Lewan and his offensive linemates were no match for the MSU front seven, and poor Gardner could not release the ball fast enough — or find enough open receivers — to mount any threat. By the end, you felt sorry for him. Fugitives are less hunted.
“I was watching on the Jumbotron,” said Connor Cook, the opposing quarterback, “and pretty much all I saw was (the MSU defense) in the backfield.”
That sums it up. The Spartans’ offense, meanwhile, did more than enough to win. Cook (18-for-33, 252 yards, one TD) did a fine job of directing some long touchdown drives, 68, 75 and 97 yards. This sophomore is growing up nicely. He has decent touch, a good field sense, a resilient nature and a noticeable lack of panic for a new starter who began the year needing a map to find the end zone.
Clearly the team rallies behind him. After his one mistake, the MSU defense pushed the Wolverines back so hard, if there were stairs they’d have tumbled down them. “We can come off a turnover, whatever,” Allen said. “It just gives us more opportunity to show why we’re the No. 1 defense in the nation.”
After that, the game got out of hand, going from 16-6 to 29-6 in a green flash. Jeremy Langford ripped off a 40-yard touchdown run, and all Brady Hoke’s crew could do was start the buses. They couldn’t get on I-96 fast enough.
Throwdown. This was a total Spartans thrashing. Allen claimed it was more dominant than the nasty victory two years ago. “It was a lot worse today,” he said. “And I think they felt it.” The MSU fans were yelling “Little Sister!” all fourth quarter. But U-M has bigger worries than meanies in the stands. The Wolverines, now 6-2 and 2-2 in the Big Ten, couldn’t run all day. They were swallowed coming out of the backfield. For a rushing-proud program, that’s like Sinatra stepping to the microphone and squealing.
The Wolverines have little to play for now but pride. They almost certainly will not win the Legends Division or reach the Big Ten title game, rendering the Ohio State showdown a mere measuring stick. And seeing how the Spartans’ measuring stick just whacked their butts, you almost cringe at the thought.
Meanwhile, the Spartans (8-1, 5-0) have grown so dominant defensively, it’s stunning. No touchdowns allowed in three weeks? No touchdowns allowed to Michigan since 2011? You hate the fact that one avoidable Notre Dame loss keeps them from a perfect record. And you wonder what this defense could do to higher-ranked teams in the country.
Don’t worry. If they keep it up, the Spartans will get a chance to show it in the Big Ten championship game Dec. 7. Who would have thought that Michigan’s best chance of seeing Ohio State go down might be watching Michigan State do it?
What’s green and white and red all over? The Spartans pounding their chests after this bloodbath. That, football fans, was harsh.