On the first drive of the game, Michigan State marched right down the field against the Bears, then the first of many mistakes that would occur all night began to take place.
On the Spartans first drive, Javon Ringer was involved in five of the first six plays. MSU continued their offensive trend from last year by handing the ball off and throwing to Ringer. The Bears did not seem to have an answer for the Spartans opening drive until MSU decided to give them a hand.
A Spartan offensive lineman was called for a chop block after the Spartans had reached the Bears' 28. On the next play, MSU was called for offensive pass interference on what was a long touchdown pass to B.J. Cunningham. The Spartans chance for putting points on the board ended abruptly facing a first down and forty yards to go from their own 42.
On the next drive, a false start was called against the Spartans and on the next play; Brian Hoyer was pressured by the Bear's defense and threw an incomplete pass. The Spartans were forced to punt the ball away, but the punt was blocked and Bryant Nnabuife picked the ball up and ran it in for the score.
In the first quarter, MSU took their team out of field goal position then allowed Cal to score a touchdown without their offense taking the field.
In the second quarter, Hoyer completed a 22-yard pass to Mark Dell deep into Cal territory. The Spartans reached the nine-yard line on the drive only to be backed up again after being called for a holding penalty on first and goal to go. MSU proceeded to miss a 39-yard field goal wide left after being stuffed by the Bears' defense.
On their next possession, Hoyer threw a pass behind the line of scrimmage that went out of bounds. It put the team into a position where they had to convert second down and 17. At the end of the first half, MSU was running a two-minute drill and once again driving on the Cal defense. This time Hoyer was pressured into a bad decision. He threw a poorly thrown ball near the sideline, where Cal defensive back Syd'Quan Thompson picked it off inside the Bears' five-yard line.
The theme of the first half was MSU gets into scoring position then forces its way out of scoring position. With all the errors and mental mistakes, MSU was lucky to be down just 10 at the half, 17-7.
When a team is on the road, it is impossible to make that many mistakes and expect to win the game. MSU Head Coach Mark Dantonio summed up the Spartan performance best after the Spartans 38-31 loss, when he said, "We cannot beat ourselves."
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