Michigan State made a statement early in a nice and easy Holiday Bowl win over Washington State. Here are five things that matter.
2017 Holiday Bowl: Michigan State 42, Washington State 17
5. Uhhhhhh, Pac-12?
Oregon losing to Boise State like that … not okay.
UCLA losing to Kansas State like that … with no Rosen or a head coach, okay.
Arizona losing to Purdue, not okay, and Washington State losing like this to Michigan State, really not okay.
The Pac-12 is struggling this bowl season, and now the pressure is on. Wazzu might have fought back a bit late, but it just got its clock cleaned in another bowl clunker for the conference. 1-5, the lone Pac-12 win was Utah’s victory over West Virginia, because the Mountaineers didn’t have their quarterback. And …
4. Not having Luke Falk mattered
It’s about the system and the offense, and Tyler Hilinski was fine after the game got out of hand 0 finishing with 272 yards – but the Cougars needed their veteran quarterback. Out with a wrist injury, Luke Falk could only stand on the sidelines and offer his support for the struggling offense.
With a month to prepare, Washington State is supposed to be better than this.
It’s supposed to have some semblance of a ground game at times, instead of coming up with an embarrassing 24 yards on eight carries.
It’s supposed to be able to plug-and-play at quarterback – at least to a certain extent. But no, not having Falk was a problem early on, and Michigan State took full advantage.
3. Welcome back, Spartans
With a ten-win season, Michigan State proved that 2016 was simply a blip.
This was a good Washington State defense the Spartans just ripped through, with Brian Lewerke hitting 13-of-21 passes for 213 yards and three scores – and 73 rushing yards – to go along with 110 yards and two scores from LJ Scott.
The MSU defense took full advantage of the Wazzu offense without its big toe, the offense marched at will in the second quarter to take over, and outside of one interception, this was a razor-sharp performance.
Loaded with returning talent, the expectations will be on MSU going into next year.
2. Mike Leach
It would’ve been interesting to have seen what he could’ve done at Tennessee.
He’s never had a loaded recruiting base to work with, and he’s never had the facilities or the mega-program positives at his disposal. But at Washington State, this just isn’t working at a high level.
Oh sure, once in a while there’s a good win over a USC here, or a tough victory over a Boise State there, but there’s no consistency. The offense is good enough to put up a slew of shiny numbers, but when it bogs down and doesn’t work, it really doesn’t work.
So now, Leach will continue to be quirky, and do his act, and his teams will win enough games to keep going bowling, but this was supposed to be the season when everything came together. And now, Leach has just one bowl win since the 2007 Gator when he was at Texas Tech.
Yeah, Michigan State is good, but to be under 300 yards of total offense with a month to prepare is never, ever okay for this coach and this team.
1. Mark Dantonio
Michigan State got blown out by Alabama in the College Football Playoff a few years ago. Outside of that, now Mark Dantonio is on a 5-1 run in bowl games after starting out 0-4.
With this win, Michigan State has its sixth double-digit win season in the last eight years with wins in the Outback, the Buffalo Wild Wings, the Rose, the Cotton, and now the Holiday.
And another win over Michigan, too.
He continues to be one of the elite head coaches in college football. He continues to be one of the most underappreaciated head coaches in college football.
Maybe if he said goofy things or blew on his coffee too hard, he’d get more attention.