Dantonio’s Decision Triggers Another Loss; But It Was The Right Call
Mark Dantonio and company deserve some criticism for the late game decision against Ohio State, but it wasn't whether or not to go for two, it was their play call in the moment.
On the scoring drive that led the Spartans to a 17-16 scoreline with around four minutes left, LJ Scott carried the ball on all eight plays going 56 yards downfield and capping it off with a one yard score. On the conversion play, Tyler O'Connor took the snap and stared down a double covered Josiah Price. The pass was intercepted resulting in a failed conversion.
Never mind not finding a way to get your bellcow the ball after he led the way downfield. There wasn't even as much as a play-action fake to LJ Scott. On plays that run play-action Tyler O'Connor is one of the best passers in the country by passer rating.
Co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner and many other players confirmed that before the offense took the field for the scoring drive the decision was made to go for two.
In a game that Michigan State on paper was considered lucky to be in (22 point spread) and where their defense was bending badly in the game (Ohio State had three drives end in Michigan State territory with no points, including a red zone fumble) it seemed like Michigan State did not want to test their luck in any potential overtime periods.
Considering the state of Michigan State's season with no bowl game to play for, this was a game to take by the horns and play spoiler to the number two team in the country. Offering Ohio State the option to play more football via overtime was not in Michigan State's best interest.
Additionally, Michigan State did get the ball back while down one point meaning the "trust your defense" arguers wanting to kick the extra point still got to see the defense do work to give Michigan State a chance. Unfortunately a Tyler O'Connor interception two plays into a two minute drill drive (with no timeouts) finished off the Spartans.
In short, it was a reasonable decision to go for two late against the number two team in the country. It was completely unreasonable to not involve LJ Scott even in a fake capacity after he got you to that point with a fantastic day (236 yards from scrimmage and both of Michigan State's touchdowns).
Michigan State closes out their season on the road at Penn State. Kickoff time is still to be determined.