After a 45-7 victory over Jacksonville State this past weekend, Michigan State and quarterback Connor Cook are ready to build off their strong showing and prove their passing attack can keep up with Oregon's high-powered offense this Saturday when the two square off in Eugene, Oregon.
Despite taking a low hit on his left knee early in the first quarter, Cook finished last week's game going 12-of-13 through the air for 285 yards and three touchdowns.
He did not miss any significant time because of the hit but did tell Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports he thought it was a cheap shot:
Connor Cook on the hit on his knee he took vs Jax St: "It was a cheap shot... I was really pissed off at how late it was & cheap it was."— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) September 2, 2014
With the Jacksonville State game in the rear-view mirror, Cook and the Michigan State offense now have their sights set on keeping pace with Oregon.
While much of the focus will be placed on whether or not the Michigan State defense can slow down Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and an offense that averaged nearly 46 points per game last season, Cook and the Michigan State offense showed in the opener that they have the ability to put points on the board.
Despite attempting fewer than 15 passes against Jacksonville State, Cook finished the game with the highest QBR in the past 10 seasons:
Michigan St QB Connor Cook's 99.98 raw QBR vs Jacksonville St was the highest of any QB with at least 15 action plays the last 10 seasons.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 30, 2014
Cook had some early struggles last season before finishing the final seven games—including the team's Rose Bowl victory over Stanford—with 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
He appears to be more comfortable in the offense, and his defense knows how important the high-powered offense is to the team's success.
"When you have an explosive offense like that clicking, it's dangerous for any team to be playing against," Michigan State safety Kurtis Drummond told The Associated Press. "Seeing them come out there clicking early like that is getting us more confidence and allowing us to play more at ease."
While Jacksonville State has nowhere near the same talent level as Oregon, Cook showed great awareness, accuracy and decision-making on the field last Saturday.
|Drive Start||No. Plays Run||Yards||Result|
|50||6||26||Missed Field Goal|
Michigan State scored on five of its first six drives against Jacksonville State, with the majority of them going for more than 50 yards.
With a dependable target like wide receiver Tony Lippett and an emerging deep threat in junior AJ Troup, Cook has all of the tools in place to keep up with Oregon's high-powered offense.
Oregon’s offense is known for its uptempo style and ability to put points on the board quickly. In its opener against South Dakota last Saturday, the offense scored 62 points. However, after averaging 55.6 points per game in their first eight games last season, the Ducks averaged just 29.2 in their final five contests when matched up against tougher competition.
Cook and Michigan State proved against Jacksonville State last Saturday just how efficient they can be on offense, but they will likely need to score at least 40 points to beat Oregon on Saturday night.
As long as Cook's knee injury from last week does not resurface, do not dismiss the Spartans' chances of keeping with Mariota and the Oregon offense.
All stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.