Monday, January 14, 2013
Best and worst of 2012: Michigan State
By Brian Bennett
Our series examining the best and worst moments of 2012 for each Big Ten team continues now with the Michigan State Spartans ...
Best moment: Bell beats Boise
It says something about Michigan State's 2012 season that the best moment came in Week 1. The year was full of promise for the Spartans, who went into their opener against Boise State ranked No. 13. The Broncos were No. 24 and had a stellar history of winning big nonconference games to start the year. The Friday night game in East Lansing wasn't a thing of beauty, but Le'Veon Bell's performance was. Bell carried the ball 44 times for 210 yards, caught six passes and piled up more total yards than Boise State's entire offense in a 17-13 victory. The junior running back also turned in one of the plays of the year with his leap over a Broncos defender. Since Boise State finished 14th in the USA Today coaches' poll and 18th in the AP poll, Michigan State's victory qualifies as the best non-league win by a Big Ten team all year long.
Worst moment: Home loss to the Hawkeyes
The Spartans went 0-4 at home in Big Ten play, a fact that's still difficult to believe, and lost those four games by a total of 11 points. But the one that remains hardest to digest is the Oct. 13 loss to Iowa. It came on a rainy day that slowed two struggling offenses down even more than normal. Michigan State led 10-0 in the second quarter but completely botched a chance to add a field goal just before the half. Still, the Spartans were up 13-6 late in the fourth quarter against an Iowa offense that hadn't found the end zone all day. Somehow, the Hawkeyes managed a game-tying drive that culminated in Mark Weisman's touchdown with 55 seconds in regulation. Andrew Maxwell threw an interception in the second overtime, and Iowa won 19-16. That left Michigan State, a top-10 team in September, at just 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the league. Though there would be more disappointments later on, this game highlighted the Spartans' inability to finish and eliminated any chance of a special season in 2012.