What a win. There will be plenty more to come, but here are my initial thoughts and reactions:
– Kirk Cousins’ two-minute drill was outstanding. He cemented himself in the record book by passing Jeff Smoker for passing yardage, as well as for winning yet another game. But, above it all, he got his bowl win and he fought for it.
– Mark Dantonio’s challenge was brilliant. Somehow that pass from Aaron Murray to Marlon Brown was ruled a catch –baffling, really. Dantonio challenged it, obviously won, and the clock was overturned and it added 13 seconds back to the game clock. Seemingly small, but at the same time, huge. The Spartans scored with 19 seconds remaining to take the lead.
– Anthony Rashad White filled a gap … then some. The defensive tackle position was a point of concern for Michigan State because of injuries, but White stepped in and made plays throughout the game and helped stuff the Georgia run game. Oh, and the blocked field goal was pretty good, too. His performance is a comfort for Spartans fans if Jerel Worthy leaves.
– Will Gholston was the key to a defense that showed Big Ten power all game. He played out of his mind and like a monster all game. He had to play well, and he did. This time next year, the questions will be flying about Gholston leaving early for the pros.
– Chris Norman had arguably his best game as a Spartan. The junior from Detroit forced Murray to fumble on a huge hit after Murray pulled it down and tried to run with it – and Gholston recovered it. He also had a big hit in the backfield at the start of the fourth quarter. Huge game for him.
– Brad Sonntag should get a game ball. Never has a holder been more important multiple times in a game. His holds on extra points and field goals were essential and on the money.
– The Michigan State defense as a whole was stifling. Georgia put up 339 total yards, but when you think of an 80-yard touchdown catch, a 53-yard reception and a 60-yard reception, suddenly…the total seems inflated. Also, 51 yards rushing on 39 attempts is a not too shabby.
– SEC speed? The Spartans had 17 tackles for a loss. Clearly, the speed difference is too much to overcome.
– Dan Roushar is not so smart. Oh, boy. What was he thinking at times? The safety to start the game was an awful call. I could list off many more, but the point already is known by anyone who watched the game. His one good call…
– Brian Linthicum had a career-best performance. His 50-yard screen play was perfectly executed and perfectly called. The lineman were wayyyyy downfield blocking and it set up the score to put MSU ahead. The senior tight end had seven receptions for 115 yards and was key on so many plays.
– Darqueze Dennard played with a chip on his shoulder. Thanks Georgia for not recruiting him. Loved having him on our side today. Two picks, one ran back for a touchdown. The announcers commented how Georgia was trying to beat him early — and did — but man, did he come back with a vengeance and play out of his mind.
– Orson Charles, Georgia’s All-American tight end, had just one catch for 2 yards — Goergia’s quarterback Murray had a reception for minus-3 yards. Close performances.
– Jarvis Jones was contained. Early, Dan France struggled to stop him. We saw some Jard McGaha in there, too, to help. But, Jones did not get a sack on Cousins — I don’t believe. And for the most part, he was blocked well.
– Larry Caper’s tackle on Georgia safety Shawn Williams after Williams intercepted a Cousins pass saved a touchdown. Caper brought Williams down around the 10-yard line. The defense held the Bulldogs to a field goal on the possession and kept it close.
– Mark Dantonio: “Big win against a great football team, against an SEC team, against a team that won their division and that was 10-2 in the regular season. … There’s not a football team that we cannot play with and not win against. We’ve done that. We’ve beaten every football team in the Big Ten in the last four years. The standard has been set by our seniors. … Two 11-win seasons, There’s not too many football teams in the country that are saying that right now. I would think that this, hopefully, helps solidify a Top 10 ranking in this year’s final polls.”
– Keith Nichol: ”I hugged him at the end of the game, I said it’s just been a blessing to go along on this ride with him, to have someone like that on my side, in my corner. I couldn’t ask to be with a better person through a journey like that. And to connect like that … it was a big moment for the team. … It’s something as a man, to go through something for four or five years and say you competed in college football and you made it through the grind of early-morning conditioning, workouts, whatever it is, walking off the field and knowing you gave everything you had – that’s the best feeling I’ve ever had. I mean, that was better than the Hail Mary catch for me. This is a game I will remember. I’ll see that Hail Mary catch for a long time, but I won’t remember that like I remember this right here. Hugging B.J. and Kirk, Foreman, Keshawn. I mean, that’s what makes college football so great. The relationships you have with those kind of guys.”
– Arthur Ray tweeted after the game he will be back next year. This is awesome news for a great guy who has been through so much. Happy to hear this!
– BCS? Yeah, hope those bowls paid attention. 22-5 record in the past two season speaks for itself. Also, playing in arguably the three most exciting games of the season (definitely three of the most exciting) kind of kills that argument that MSU doesn’t have the national brand name — it does now even more. (I will do more on this later.)
– This game, as a whole, was everything it should have been between two very well-matched teams. I was proud well before the third overtime ended with how Michigan State performed. The win makes it that much sweeter, but shoot, that was a heck of a game.