Sorry about the delay in getting this up, everyone. Suffice it to say I'm wearing sunglasses indoors, with the lights off, right now. I'll get to the big-picture implications for the conference in a moment, but before I do I would just like to say:
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO GREEN GO WHITE GOIN BACK BACK TO CALI CALI BITCHESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!
Ahem. Thank you. Sorry about that, it's been building for a while now.
Anyway. That was quite an excellent game, wasn't it? Even ESPN couldn't help but acknowledge that this was likely to be the most competitive and interesting game of the season's penultimate weekend, as College Gameday was on hand in Indianapolis.
And competitive it was. At first, it looked like MSU might subject OSU to the same boa-constrictor treatment that was used to great effect throughout the later stages of the conference season- move at a glacially methodical pace on offense, force short opposing drives with the defense, and then get right back to taking 6, 7, 10 minutes to move the ball down the field. MSU scored the game's first 17 points largely by staying committed to a run game that was totally ineffective in the early going, because that commitment opened the deep pass plays to Keith Mumphrey and Tony Lippett that put the first two touchdowns on the board.
The difference, of course, between OSU and the rest of the conference is the Buckeyes are too talented, both on the field and on the sidelines, to roll over and die. As many of us suspected, OSU found some success on the ground against MSU's defense, and proceeded to rattle off the next 24 points even though the deep passing game they've used so effectively was completely nullified by the No Fly Zone.
Past Spartan teams would have collectively folded like a cheap suit under those circumstances. But, like I tried to say in my pick prediction, this team is just different. The defense adjusted, as it so often does, to grind the Buckeyes to a halt, and Connor Cook continued playing the best game of his career to date, now with a reinvigorated running game to back him up. OSU's continued inability to properly cover a throwback stung them again as Cook found Josiah Price sipping some Gatorade in the endzone, nobody within 20 yards of him, Michael Geiger later added a 40-yard field goal, and Jeremy Langford continued his 4th quarter clutchness with the icing touchdown run.
So that was the game. Let's talk consequences.
For Mark Dantonio and Michigan State, it's the long-awaited vindication of a ton of hard work and patience. He said, when he got here, that what he was trying to build would take time, and that that was the price for constructing something stable and enduring. He was close- painfully close- to seeing it come to fruition two years ago. Last year's debacle was a serious test of faith, but Dantonio never wavered, and showed himself to be willing to bend enough to keep the ship on course.
If we didn't get to the Rose this year, I had serious anxiety that it wouldn't happen in the near future. OSU, despite this defeat, probably hasn't reached their peak under Meyer. Michigan is perhaps less of a concern than they should be at this point, but you have to think at some point they start to realize their immense potential as well. And those are just the obstacles to Indy, nevermind whoever comes out of the West.
Seizing the program's ultimate objective is an enormous relief, for a lot of reasons. Obviously, there's the legion of fans, myself included, who have literally never seen this team in the Rose Bowl in our lifetimes. But more importantly, beating Meyer on a primetime national stage feels (and of course you all probably disagree because it's a fun meme for you) like a haymaker to the Sparty No! construct. After last year's disappointments and this year's cushy schedule, it was really important to demonstrate that this team can and will compete in a more challenging conference alignment going forward, and get the job done in the biggest moments.
In sum, today (yesterday) was a good day.
For Urban Meyer and OSU, the defeat is obviously a disappointment, but it's not the end of the world. I honestly believe, given how many big plays they yielded to MSU's average offense, that a game with Florida State would have gotten ugly in a hurry. Of course, OSU's other potential BCS matchups are not easy meat, and you always want the chance to bring home the big prize if you can. But, depending on what Shazier and Miller decide to do regarding leaving early and how well the offensive line can be replenished after 4 graduations, OSU could be contending for a spot in the new playoff as early as next year. Last night was a letdown, but Meyer is still 24-1 at OSU, and the future still looks pretty damn bright from the outside. I'll leave it at that, and perhaps the Buckeye fans out there can add more about how you're feeling now.
For the conference overall, it's tough to consider this a good situation. OSU's stumble will mean that once again, the B1G is without a title game competitor, and perhaps ever worse, it clears the way for Auburn to continue the SEC's run of crystal football hoistings. Again, if you watched what was passing for "defense" in the SEC CCG yesterday, I feel like Winston and FSU are going to boatrace the Tigers. But we'll see.
Either way, the B1G is once again on the outside looking in for a national title. The bowl scenarios could still augur for a very good New Year, but winning the big prize is probably the best way to start undoing The Narrative, and it ain't happening this year.
A final counterpoint to that, though: WHO CARES BECAUSE MSU IS GOING TO THE ROSE BOWL SO HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM HONEYCRISPS, THE CONSPIRACY IS VANQUISHED