Michigan State suffered a humbling, decisive defeat at the hands of Notre Dame last Saturday night, and in its own house no less! So, which Spartan football team will show up for this week's contest?
Eastern Michigan University travels to Spartan Stadium on Saturday, which shouldn't prove much of a contest for the home team. And yet State has a not-so-distant history of stumbling against MAC Conference opponents--most notably to Central Michigan University, albeit in a different decade and under a different coach.
Mark Dantonio's teams rarely lose focus, especially following defeat. It's fair to say his practices this week will tear down and reconstruct questionable links or reload as much as possible in the midst of a fall campaign. How his team responds, this week and next, will largely define the character of the 2012 team.
As reported by Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News, the Spartans' meager point production in the game was "their lowest point total at home since State lost to Central Michigan University 20-3 in 1991, and the lowest since Dantonio took over the program in 2007."
I expect the Spartans to soar past the Eastern Michigan Eagles. However, given their meager offensive output, inexperienced quarterback, offensive line problems in protection and Notre Dame's masterful exploitation of State's defensive strengths, last week's contest is proof this team possesses a schizophrenic quality, making it vulnerable.
Michigan State's opening win over Boise State was less than dominating—not altogether unexpected of a new quarterback. The following week's win over Central Michigan, by contrast, was a blow-out. Which team will show up against EMU? Against Ohio State the following week?
Mark Dantonio and crew must dig deep and make rapid adjustments, as they try to chart the same course as last year—post-Notre Dame defeat—to post a third 11-win season. Notre Dame went 8-5 last year, whereas Michigan State went 11-2. Does it possess the talent, resolve and raw will to repeat or exceed last year's exploits?
It;s fair to say my optimism for these 2012 Spartans cooled, and Ohio State and Urban Meyer look to prove a better barometer of where this Michigan State team ranks in Big Ten conference play. As Saturday's game illustrated, this is a not ready for prime time-player yet.