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MSU Potluck: Struggling Like Stroh’s

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NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Michigan State vs Alabama
Here, Alabama Linebacker Unit #2004306787 sacks Connor Cook.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday

Stroh’s Brewery Company had a long, proud history as a leading Midwestern brewery from its inception in Detroit in 1850. Starting as a door-to-door operation, Stroh’s gradually expanded its recruiting/distribution footprint, and got some recognition as a viable national brand. Stroh’s endured through Prohibition and the Great Depression, always able to adapt well enough to endure market shifts.

The end did come, however, when the emergence of microbreweries in the 1990s shrank market share for domestic powers. Stroh’s wasn’t quick enough to adjust, and the ancient concern found itself in the crosshairs of juggernauts Miller and Pabst, which acquired Stroh’s in 1999.

OK, I suppose it can’t be ignored completely: the Playoff appearance. Not great, Bob. On the same field where they pulled off a thrilling comeback over Baylor the year before, MSU withstood Alabama for a while, but eventually got dragged under by the relentless Tide, unable, like Stroh’s, to counter revolutionary talents like Reggie Ragland and Cyrus Jones.

Talk about that game when a lot of hope and expectation ran headlong into the iceberg of reality and your team just didn’t show up. What happened? With the benefit of hindsight, could things have gone better for your squad if one little thing had changed (say, for example, you don’t throw a horrendous interception near the goal line shortly before halftime)?

Candystripes: So many choices here. Depending on when you want to consider us crashing into the iceberg, in 2015 alone you could pick the OSU game, the MSU game, the bowl game against Duke, and also probably the Iowa and/or Michigan games. Basically, “that game” pretty much applies to most Indiana seasons. There’s a couple of “one little thing being changed” moments too, including but not limited to: the last play against Ohio State; the one series monsoon against MSU that started when we got the ball and ended right as we punted the ball away; any number of plays versus UM, including the last play of regulation; and the Beathard dive for the endzone against Iowa.

Creighton: Iowa @ Minnesota in 2010 has stuck with me for a few years. 2010 was, in general, a gigantic letdown of a season. Iowa was coming in hot off a win in the Orange Bowl with Ricky Stanzi, Adrian Clayborn, Tyler Sash, Brett Greenwood, Marvin McNutt and DJK all returning from the Orange Bowl team. Iowa started the season off 7-2 (4-1) before losing back-to-back games against Northwestern and Ohio State. Iowa looked to rebound and finish the season on a high note when they traveled to Minneapolis to face a horrendous 2-9 Golden Gophers squad. Minnesota led most of the game until Marvin McNutt hauled in a touchdown in the 4th quarter. The teams exchanged punts before Adam Weber of all people led a drive straight down Iowa’s throat for the go-ahead TD. Iowa got the ball back with almost 5 minutes left, and Marcus Coker immediately lost a fumble on the first play of the drive. With all 3 timeouts and 4:30 remaining on the clock, Iowa was completely unable to get the Gophers off the field. Goldy wins. Iowa finished the regular season 7-5 (4-4) after starting the season ranked #9.

Brian: It’s been awhile since Michigan played for something really special. The last game I can remember in which that was the case was the 2006 Ohio State game - the number one versus number two match-up at the ‘Shoe. Michigan definitely showed up, well the offense did at least, but found itself on the short end of a 42-39 score, ending the Wolverines' undefeated season and championship dreams. Ohio State, led by Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, was the better team that night, but Wolverine fans are still left wondering if the outcome might have been different had the defense not allowed those two 50+ yard, back-breaking, touchdown runs.

Al NamiasIV: Like Creighton, the year is 2010, but for me the game was Iowa v Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes began the year with national championship hopes that were likely dashed when they lost at Arizona, but the B1G was still in play, a good season was still in play. That ended when Wisco ran that fake punt. There was 6:30 left in the game and the Badgers were facing 4th and 4 at their own 26. Because the Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema was one of our own, we knew there was no way he was punting the ball. Everyone in the stands knew it, everybody at home knew it. Somehow Kirk Ferentz didn’t. But the punt unit came on, the fake went down, and the Badgers marched down the field, scored with 1:06 left. Iowa still had a chance, but Kirk Ferentz and his inability to manage the clock ended with a timeout, but only one play called after the timeout. Anyway, Wisconsin won 31-30, Iowa caved for the season shortly thereafter and it ended with the dud that Creighton wrote about.

Yeah, if Ferentz could have gotten his special teams together instead of getting complacent, that mess of a season probably has a different outcome.

MNW: 2013 Ohio State. Kain Colter totally got that first down. Get fucked, Urban Meyer. Get fucked, Ohio State. That was supposed to be The Year. Fucking damnit fuck.

...sorry, what were we talking about?

Oh no wait, we are dredging up the memory of that game. Ugh.

Anyways, there’s a great book out there waiting to be written on brewing in the Midwest. If I were an historian-in-training with any talent or ability, I would write the hell out of that book. It’s crazy how many of those local breweries got run out or bought out because they couldn’t compete with the big boys—in Milwaukee alone there were greats like Gettelman and Independent Milwaukee, in Minneapolis-Saint Paul you had Hamm’s and Schmidt... Such good stuff. And while I love the craft brewing culture that’s popped up in such a strong way across the Midwest (8 new ones opened in Milwaukee this summer!), there’s nothing like a nice, cold Grain Belt on a hot day.

Speth: I give you not one, but two plays from 2011 aka The Year Wisconsin Should’ve Lost to Bama in the National Championship Game. From which, we now have the Dezmen Southward Hopelessly Lost in Coverage Award, which I will be awarding weekly to some poor B1G player who gets so comically burned in coverage that even Wily E. Coyote wouldn’t come back from it. The first is the infamous “Rocket” play. Fuck you Kirk Cousins. The second came a week later, and while not technically a Hail Mary, that throw from Braxton Miller was a duck that required an act of God to turn into a touchdown. Also Dez Southward not being within 30 yards of an OSU player helped. Can we point and laugh at the Falcons drafting him in the 3rd round, and then having the audacity to think they could turn him into a corner? I mean sometimes NFL scouts really are morons.

WSR: Every single wisconsin game since 2003.

Aaron Yorke: Early in the 2006 season, Penn State headed to South Bend for a highly anticipated matchup with No. 4 Notre Dame. With the Lions coming off of an Orange Bowl win the year before and Anthony Morelli finally taking over as starting quarterback, this was sure to be a battle of the ages. That illusion didn’t last for very long.

The Irish scored the first 27 points of the game and ended up leading 41-3 before two garbage-time touchdowns made the result slightly less embarrassing for Penn State. Brady Quinn carved up the blue and white defense for 287 and three touchdowns to make it clear that Joe Paterno’s squad was not going to return to the BCS circuit that year.

When Penn State did return to a BCS game in 2008, it ran into yet another iceberg at the Rose Bowl. This time it was Mark Sanchez and the USC Trojans putting on an air show that the Lions could not slow down until it was too late. Southern California led 31-7 at the the break and Sanchez ended up with four touchdown passes and 413 yards while completing a whopping 80 percent of his throws. At least we know the brutal loss at Kinnick that year didn’t cost Penn State a shot at a national title.

Stew: 2009 Iowa/OSU in the Horseshoe. Stanzi was out hurt (fuckin’ potatoes), and James Vandenberg was filling in admirably. The Hawkeye defense holds OSU and forces a punt with about a minute left in the game, tied 24 all. It’s a pretty poor punt, and Iowa gets the ball at their own 33 with 52 seconds left. Plenty of time to go attempt a game winning FG, right? Ferentz runs the ball into the middle of the line, and then takes a knee to take his chances in OT. This is one of the most boneheaded decisions I’ve ever witnessed. Needless to say Iowa lost in OT.