The Spartans went into their game against Minnesota with a major chip on their shoulders.
Michigan State defeated the Gophers a year ago in the Metrodome. That game came a week after a historic collapse against Michigan and the Gophers characterized that defeat as a fluke and a letdown. That explanation rankled the Spartans, who felt they did not get enough respect from their opponents.
As a result, Michigan State came out fired-up for the rematch. The Spartans did not show any sympathy for their guests, who were once again coming off a loss to Michigan. MSU rolled to a 51-17 victory.
Much of the offensive success was due to the outstanding play of QB Drew Stanton, who continues to show improvement each week. Stanton completed 20-of-31 passes for 308 yards with three touchdowns. He also torched the Gophers on the ground with 102 yards on 13 carries.
The Spartans offense was virtually unstoppable with 636 yards. The Michigan State offensive line, led by 315-pound right guard William Whitticker, punished the Minnesota defense for 60 minutes. Whitticker explained that the line and the offensive unit wanted to leave an indelible impression on the Gophers.
"Everyone of us was recruited to play in the Big Ten," Whitticker said. "To say 'we were flat' is going to be an insult to everyone of us."
With the Spartan offense playing more efficiently than it has all season, the defense was equally effective. The high-powered Gophers were held to a season-low 313 yards, and their vaunted running attack was held to 102 yards.
"Big pride issue," defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson told the Detroit Free Press.
"A team coming in rushing for over 300 yards and you have to prove yourself. Everything on campus and in the newspaper was about Minnesota and this was our homecoming. We were playing them on our field, so it was a big pride issue to get everything going."
The Spartans appear to have turned things around and sit in second place in the Big Ten with a 3-1 record. With a week off before facing the Wolverines, head coach John L. Smith can only hope his surging team can pick up where it left off.
GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Drew Stanton — Had a sensational game, with 410 yards of total offense. Stanton threw for three touchdowns and ran for 102 yards. Stanton's 25-yard TD pass to Eric Knott midway through the first quarter gave the Spartans a 14-0 lead and gave them control of a game in which they would not be challenged.
KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Jehuu Caulcrick — His 18-yard TD run early in the first quarter put the Spartans on the board. The 230-pound freshman ran for 94 yards and complemented Stanton and fellow RB DeAndra Cobb.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "These six guys are why we're having success. We're only going to continue to get better and it all starts with these guys." — QB Drew Stanton on the Spartans offensive line. Michigan State had 636 yards of total offense in a 51-17 win over Minnesota.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: Just about everything. The offensive line blocked with ferocity, the running backs ran with speed and power and the passing game was especially effective. When Michigan State was on defense, the front seven made it a point to punish Minnesota's much-respected offense. Can the Spartans sustain their success after an off week?
STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: Even with a sensational offensive showing, the Spartans played a little bit fast and loose. Drew Stanton threw two interceptions and Michigan State also lost one fumble. Three turnovers in their next game at Michigan could be disastrous.
ROSTER REPORT: TE Eric Knott caught two passes for 61 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota a week after not playing one snap against Illinois.
Spartans Insulted By Gophers' Comments
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