The Michigan State offense returned nine starters this season, but still slogged through some early season struggles.
Much of that is due to the fact that coach Dantonio took some time to decide on a quarterback this year. He started the season with Andrew Maxwell under center. Then he dropped Maxwell to third string behind Connor Cook and freshman Damion Terry. Up big against Youngstown State in week three, Dantonio played Tyler O’Connor for a big chunk of the second half.
It’s been Cook’s show pretty much since then, and he’s grown into his role somewhat, managing the game enough that he’s only thrown 4 picks compared to his 17 touchdown passes. Plus, he’s completing 58.2 percent of his passes. All that being said, the Spartans are ranked 95th nationally in passing offense.
The roundabout way Michigan State went settling their quarterback situation seems almost straightforward when compared with the detours Jeremy Langford went through before becoming the team’s running back. He went from special teams to defensive back, spent one spring as a wide receiver, and then finally started carrying the rock.
Now he’s had seven straight games where he’s rushed for 100 or more yards, many of those yards coming after contact.
Bennie Fowler is the team’s leading receiver in terms of yards (496) and touchdowns (6), but Tony Lippett and Macgarrett Kings, Jr. have both caught more passes.
The offensive linemen, who average 6’4″ and 297 pounds when you include the tight end, have given up just 12 sacks. That’s fewer than anyone in the Big Ten.
Most of all, this is a hungry bunch. They remember having lost to Ohio State last year 17-16.
However, there’s much more than payback on their minds. “We’re doing to put all the chips on the table and try to go to the Rose Bowl,” said coach Dantonio.
The Big Ten Championship Game is at 8:17 pm Saturday on 97.1 The Fan.