Game Day Observations: Michigan State
Michigan State won 55-16 in East Lansing on Saturday and showed the Nittany Lions why it is the No. 5 team in the country.
The game, which was played in Spartan Stadium, was Penn State’s last of the regular season. The Spartans walked away from the victory as the champions of the Big Ten East with a spot in the championship game vs. Iowa next weekend. Despite the frustrations on the field, it was a relatively good experience off the gridiron. Here are our observations from Saturday’s affair:
Spartan Stadium was underwhelming. Despite the fact a photographer from a fellow student media outlet asked if Sparty’s field was the biggest in the Big Ten, I was thoroughly unimpressed with the setup in East Lansing. It felt noticeably smaller than Beaver Stadium, mostly because it’s not surrounded by seating all the way around the top.
Spartan fans were passionate but forgettable. If you’re going to beat a team by more than three scores, you would think they’d take mercy on fans from the other team, right? Wrong. Unlike our friends in Columbus, the folks in East Lansing weren’t all that friendly. Right off the bat a guy didn’t hold the elevator for us in the parking garage, tailgaters kept to themselves, and people at the media entrance were snooty. In the stadium itself, there was plenty of “Go Green! Go White!” cheering and more green than anyone should ever wear. The student section was full by kickoff (major props) and they had some interesting chants. For example, every time Sparty got a first down they said: “1, 2, 3, first down b!tch.” But they failed to get the wave to go around more than half the stadium and the student section was more than half empty by the end of the game.
Sparty smells. I rode an elevator with the guy and that costume hasn’t been washed in way too long. Those seven floors were painful, let me tell you. And I wasn’t a big fan of Sparty overall. He just walked around waving his arms up and down while doing a sort of half jog, half skip sort of thing. Plus I’m sure he’s given more than one kid nightmares. Just look at him:
Dramatic walk ins are overrated. I’m not sure if this was something they did special for Senior Day, but the Spartan’s walk in with billowing smoke had me rolling my eyes.
James Franklin was holding the play sheet. This was the first game any one on our staff remembers James Franklin holding the actual play sheet. Usually he says run or pass, Donovan calls the play, and then Hackenberg can call an audible at the line. Which aside from being elementary obviously wasn’t getting the job done. Franklin appeared a lot more hands on overall, and you can likely credit the 16 points the Nittany Lions put up against the Spartans to Franklin’s play calling. This post game press conference was the first time Franklin didn’t give his usual “We’re not thinking about that right now.” Instead, when asked if he needed to do some soul searching he answered he’s evaluating his personnel everyday and he would make decisions (which he likely already had at that point) between now and the bowl game.
Here’s a bonus observation from Alex Robinson, who attended the game with family: I had the pleasure of taking in a hockey game at Michigan State’s Munn Ice Arena on Friday night. The arena itself was small; it’s built into the ground so it’s only one story tall. Inside, it reminded me a lot of Pegula Ice Arena. There isn’t a bad seat in the place, and while it doesn’t have the new, shiny feel like Pegula has, the 41-year old arena is packed with history. There are Hobey Baker trophies and All-America tributes displayed on the concourse, and there are multiple mentions of the program’s two national championships. The concourse differed from Pegula in that it was really open though. There were no walls, and you could stand and watch the game while waiting in line for concessions or anything else. It was also really warm in the arena — I was comfortable in just a long sleeved t shirt. We got tickets 11 rows up, right on the goal line in the double-attack zone for just 10 dollars. Overall, Munn is a great combination of a cool experience, good value, and solid college hockey (although with the Spartans’ troubles on the ice recently, you may be better off going to watch the opponent).
The rest of the weekend saw John Donovan relieved of his duties and Saquon Barkley (who rushed for 1,000 yards this season) and Carl Nassib earn Big Ten honors from BTN.com. Penn State will find out its bowl destination on December 6, but until then Penn State football gets a much needed break.