Five Takeaways: Michigan edition

The Spartans dominated defensively, but what else was there to learn from this game? Plenty of it centers on coaching and player development.

1. Defense is for real

Michigan State had some doubters about the strength of its defense going into this game, which were based on the teams it had played.

Any doubts were answered soundly against Michigan. The Spartans had 11 tackles for loss, seven sacks and held Michigan to 168 yards of offense – well below its 468 average. It also help the Wolverines to six points – well below its 42 points per game average. Also, negative 48 yards rushing.

It was not just the numbers, but with the convincing fashion in which MSU shut down U-M.

2. Spartans are in the driver's seat to Indy

MSU has a bye week heading into Nebraska in two weeks. If the Spartans win that one, it is almost unforeseeable that they won't play in the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis. Right now, MSU is sitting pretty and in control if it keeps winning. Nebraska won Saturday, but MSU still is undefeated in conference play so it maintains the lead on the Huskers.

3. The offense can survive mistakes

It looked like the MSU offense was doing enough throughout the game Saturday to win, but Connor Cook threw a bad interception into double coverage and it set up Michigan at the MSU 40. The defense responded and forced a punt after making Michigan lose 21 yards on three plays.

It also got almost ugly when Josiah Price dropped a pass from Cook over the middle and it was almost intercepted deep in MSU territory. Despite the sloppiness, the offense remained reserved – or to insert the buzzword around Cook, "resilient" – and put together the drives necessary to win.

4. Talent development is as key as recruiting

Some people were enjoying asking questions about the difference in what MSU does with player development this week compared to U-M's impressive recruiting. What MSU showed on Saturday is that having players who buy into a system and learn it and apply it is just as valuable as recruiting. Now, Max Bullough and Isaiah Lewis were top recruits and are key to the MSU defense, but most of the rest have been guys MSU has brought in with talent and coached well.

5. MSU's coaches outcoached Michigan's coaches

Michigan had a bye week going into this game and you would have thought MSU did based on the game plan and the execution. The Spartans simply dominated the game. Michigan didn't execute offensively – even with knowing the MSU defensive scheme, which doesn't change much. Pat Narduzzi won the matchup with Al Borges and you could say that Greg Mattison and Dave Warner played to a draw – but make a case for Warner winning the matchup there, too.

BONUS: Trevon Pendleton had a key role. His two catches were instrumental in getting Michigan State drives going. Secondly, the game should not have been as close as it was. Michigan State fails to take advantage of great field position time and time again, but did enough to win. That said, there were a lot of scoring drives that should have happen that didn't.


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