Win the rushing battle: A
Michigan State did this in resounding form, with a 219-65 advantage on the ground. Michigan had allowed just four rushing touchdowns going into the game, but Jeremy Langford posted three and a career-high 177 yards. It was a dominant performance on the ground.
Do not throw interceptions: A
Not only did Connor Cook take care of the ball, he did not make many throws that were into coverage. His completion percentage leaves something to be desired, but he took care of the ball and put Michigan State in position to win.
Continue to pass block impressively: A-
Michigan had just one sack – the fifth allowed by Michigan State this year. The Wolverines only registered two quarterback hurries as well. It was another strong showing from the offensive line in protecting Cook.
Pressure Devin Gardner: B+
Michigan State was credited with just four quarterback hurries with two sacks, but that does not really do the performance justice. Gardner was under pressure much of the time and generally did not have much time to throw downfield.
Stay on edge: A
Did Michigan State play with intensity? Probably as well as it has for four quarters at any point this year. It was a big performance in a big rivalry game for Michigan State and the intensity was clear from the start.
The rushing attack went over 250 yards for the third straight game, which was key in this one. Langford was at his best and ran for his career high with three touchdowns to boot. Cook had 227 yards on 12 of 22 passing, but he missed some throws – including one to a wide open Aaron Burbridge in the end zone. The offensive line was stellar in both aspects yet again.
It was not as dominant as last year against Michigan, but who really thought it would be? The Spartans still held Michigan under 200 total yards and just 3.3 yards per play. Sacks, tackles for loss and flying around were constants. R.J. Williamson had a big pick-six, playing his best game of the year.
Special Teams: C
Ill-advised decision by MacGarrett Kings to try and field a punt in the third aside, the MSU special teams struggled. Michael Geiger missed a field goal for the fourth straight game. Mike Sadler averaged just 37.5 yards per punt. This unit could have performed better, but the kick and punt coverage teams were good.