Avoid playing to the level of the competition: C-
At times, Michigan State looked like the dominant team on the field, which it was. Other times, Purdue looked like the better team. It again was a fourth-quarter issue, as Michigan State went in with a substantial lead, which it gave up and had to hang on late to win.
Do better on third down: B-
Michigan State did not convert on any third-down opportunities in the fourth quarter – or in the third after Aaron Burbridge’s touchdown catch. They finished just 5 of 11 on third downs after converting 5 of 7 through Burbridge’s catch.
Focus in on Akeem Hunt: B-
For the most part, Michigan State held Hunt in check, but he had three touchdowns – including a 52-yard run. He was key in the late comeback for the Boilermakers and had 92 yards on just 12 attempts, good for 8.0 yards per carry.
Get Connor Cook clicking again: B-
Cook narrowly avoided having a completion percentage below 50 for the second straight week as he hit on 19 of 37 passing. He did have 238 yards and three touchdowns, but lived dangerously. A couple throws probably should have been intercepted, while his touchdown pass to Josiah Price went through the fingers of a Purdue defender.
Clean up the little errors: B+
Michigan State had four penalties. Two were pass interference calls. One was on Darian Hicks and was needless in the end zone. The other was on R.J. Williamson on a borderline call, in my opinion. It appeared Williamson got his head turned around in enough time. Josiah Price was called for offensive pass interference for a pick as well. All in all, the senseless after the play penalties were not an issue this week.
Michigan State did have 532 yards of offense and did a lot of good things moving the ball. Perhaps the biggest bright spot was the fact three running backs all had solid showings as Jeremy Langford, Nick Hill and Delton Williams all averaged more than 8.0 yards per carry. Cook was good, but not great. More consistency is needed, but it was the best run blocking game for the Spartans up front. Oh and Tony Lippett ... he is playing at an amazing level week to week.
The first half was not pretty much of the time, as Purdue came out with a bubble screen attack that did some good things. The Spartans adjusted and only allowed 11 yards in the third quarter. It again had to survive late and make a big stand that was capped by an interception, but it was not a bad showing.
Special Teams: C-
Michael Geiger missed a 44-yard field goal and barely knocked through a 42-yarder that cleared the crossbar by about a foot or so. The punt return game was non-existent spare a 15-yard return by Kings, but he had more room to run on that, but instead chose to try and cut for a big play. Mike Sadler had a big punt late, putting Purdue at its 5-yard line. But that fake punt ... that hurt.