The Spartans have played in nine games this season in which they have finished within one score of their opponent, they have won three of those games. The Spartans won the game 17-16, marking the ninth time this season that the defense has held the opposing offense to one touchdown or less– quite an impressive stat for a 7-6 team.
In a season that could have been a great one for the Spartans– losing five games by a combined 13 points– head coach Mark Dantonio knows all too well that things could have gone worse:
“This was a season that could have been, but with that being said, it could’ve been a season where guys cashed it in.”
Spartan fans knew all too well what close games feel like and they also knew all too well what it felt like to lose the close ones. With the game on the line and Dan Conroy stepping in to kick a 47-yard field goal, Michigan State fans were nervous.
With just 1:07 left and a sometimes-inconsistent Conroy standing wide-eyed, glaring at the “Good Hands” logo on the net in the middle of the goal posts, the ball was snapped. The kicker took the three most important steps of his college career. He nailed it.
The team lifted the senior kicker up like they had just won the championship, but it was that kind of victory for this team. It wasn’t necessarily a big win because of the bowl game, it was a big win because of how they did it and where they came from.
Just a couple months ago this team was falling apart and there seemed to be no chemistry or leadership. That was all erased as they overcame a 13-0 deficit and a world of adversity and won their second straight bowl game. Starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell faced much of this adversity because of his role on the team.
How well did Maxwell do? Not so well. He threw for less yardage than his backup, redshirt freshman Connor Cook, and even running back Le’Veon Bell and looked timid and nervous for most of the game.
As for Bell, he led the Spartans offensively with 145 yards and a touchdown to go along with a huge trick play that resulted in a 29-yard pass from Bell to fullback TyQuan Hammock. This was a big momentum swing for the Spartans along with the muffed punt by TCU’s Skye Dawson, giving them the ball at the TCU 4-yard line halfway through the final quarter of play.
TCU freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin was not as impressive as many thought he would be after a strong first quarter. Boykin was 13 of 29 for 201 yards and an interception in a shaky passing performance.
Although this didn’t look like a big win for the program, it had much more of an important feel for the coaches and players– and heck, even the fans– involved with Michigan State football.
It wasn’t pretty, but as the old saying goes, a win is a win.