Michigan State Dominates Bowling Green, But Fumblitis Was In The Air
The Spartans cruised to an easy 35-10 victory over Bowling Green on Saturday.
This could be the Spartans getting back to the dominance we have seen from them in the 2010s. A dominant Michigan State team should expect to handle games like this, and handle it they did. Though let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, a Big Ten team should always handle a MAC team when the two teams had a similar season the year before.
Michigan State endured ball security issues throughout the game. During the opening quarter, in what was almost an ode to the 2016 season, LJ Scott fumbled on the goal line in the opening drive and later on a high shotgun snap gave Bowling Green the ball in Spartan territory. Thanks to some good defensive play though Michigan State held the Falcons to three points on those drives.
LJ Scott is the central focus of the ball security issues as he fumbled twice and lost both of them. Bowling Green returned them for a combined 76 yards and a touchdown in this game. All told the Spartans fumbled the ball four times, losing three of them. And even then there are issues that don't show up in the box score. Some shaky handoffs (including the exchange that gave Madre London a touchdown) are worrying and should be addressed this week in film review.
Brian Lewerke showed a lot of poise in this game. He did not let the early bad snap turnover get to him and even showed resolve on the same drive where he was stripped by a Falcon defender while on the run. Madre London scooped up the fumble for a modest gain on the play. Lewerke's line finished out at 22/33 for 250 yards and three touchdowns. He was also the Spartans leading rusher on the day, carrying the ball eight times for 69 yards.
Lewerke threw two of those touchdown passes to Felton Davis who has emerged as an early favorite target for the quarterback (10 targets in the game). Davis hauled in four of those passes for 35 yards and two scores. Darrell Stewart was the most effective receiver in the game with six catches for 85 yards on seven targets. He was banged up a little bit in the second half but shook off whatever was ailing him to return before the end of the game.
The three headed running back attack took a very interesting turn this week. LJ Scott fumbled twice and was the least efficient runner. He carried the ball 15 times for 42 yards, for an average of 2.6 yards per carry. Madre London had 10 carries for 54 yards (5.4 YPC) and Gerald Holmes had nine carries for 40 yards (4.4 YPC)
The feel good story of the day has to be the pick six scored by Tyson Smith in the third quarter. Smith in November did not know if he would play football again after he suffered a stroke at 19 years old. His score was the last of the game for MSU and came 22 seconds after a Brian Lewerke to Matt Sokol connection on the previous drive.
Michigan State's 35 point explosion across two quarters was good to see and made a good first stride in putting 2016's woes in the rearview mirror and while plenty of questions remain unanswered for the team after week one. A Western Michigan team that has lost nearly all of its main contributors, and head coach, coming in next week should provide Michigan State another control the game environment to iron out their flaws before the Big Ten season.