MSU football: Spartans complete so many circles in Rose Bowl win

LOS ANGELES – My flight back to Detroit and … well, don’t tell me what I’m coming back to weather-wise … leaves in a few hours. Yet more than 24 hours after Michigan State’s Rose Bowl victory over Stanford on Wednesday, I can’t help but thinking about one word.

Symmetry. Because when you complete a circle, there are infinite symmetrical lines.

In this Rose Bowl, the storylines of completion are equally as infinite.

Just about everything that happened in that 24-20 victory, with the night air in Pasadena holding just a little crispness to it like a fall Saturday in East Lansing, came together in fitting fashion. In fact, there are so many ways that the Spartans achieved one of Dantonio’s favorite phrases of finishing their circles.

* Foremost, The Stop. Max Bullough gets suspended seven days earlier.  His replacements at middle linebacker, senior Kyler Elsworth and sophomore Darien Harris, combine to make the play that allowed MSU to run out the clock. Elsworth closes the tumultuous week by being named Rose Bowl Defensive MVP.

* Back in late August and September, it was the Spartan defense that won games while the offense struggled. On this night, with Connor Cook throwing a pick-6 interception and Jeremy Langford fumbling deep in Stanford territory, it again became primetime for MSU to dig its heels in and make a game-saving stand. And, for one last time, the nation’s No. 1 defense did it again.

* For Cook, who felt slighted during the fall camp quarterback competition and again after getting benched late against Notre Dame. He ascended to the starting job and changed perception from being an unproven liability to a thick-skinned Big Ten Championship Game and Rose Bowl Offensive MVP in just three months.

* For Andrew Maxwell to take both the first and last snaps of his the season, getting to watch the clock run out on the Spartans’ Rose Bowl win and continuing to answer questions after the game both humbly and honestly. It might not have been how the former starter planned on it, but he still exited his senior season as a Big Ten and Rose Bowl champion.

* It was fitting that Tony Lippett and Bennie Fowler again continued to make the important plays, combining for 191 yards on seven catches. Fowler’s out-of-the-shadows 60-yarder set up MSU’s game-tying field goal in the third quarter, then Lippett’s outstretched, 25-yard grab-and-dive touchdown early in the fourth provided the eventual winning points. A year ago, and even during the offensive struggles in this season’s first month, they couldn’t make those catches.

* Another game for MSU’s offensive line, virtually healthy all year (save for senior Dan France not playing in the Rose Bowl), to wear down an opposing defense. The heavy run-left repetition behind senior captain Blake Treadwell looked almost identical to how the Spartans put away Michigan and Ohio State. And for Fou Fonoti, the only Californian on MSU’s roster, to finish his college career so close to home and in front of so many loving family members who lived his Rose Bowl dream week by his side.

* And for Mark Dantonio, who preached to his players all year about the importance of the number 7. In his seventh season, the quest he most wanted to complete finally came to fruition. That 26-year Rose Bowl drought is over.

* These are only a few of the many stories. As Dantonio says, everyone has one. But let’s not leave out the tens of thousands of fans who turned Pasadena into East Lansing West. They finally got to experience MSU winning another Rose Bowl. The unexpectedness of it, from August angst to January joy, made the sensation of victory all the more heightened.

So it’s now also time for me to also complete my journey, though there is more postgame video to upload soon. It’s been a busy ride, but I’m ready to abandon the 70-and-sunny baseline and get back home to whatever craziness Michigan has in store. The weather is a circle, too, and spring and summer are the next and best parts of it.

This entry was posted in Big Ten Conference, Bowl Games, Football, Mark Dantonio, Michigan State, Rose Bowl, Sports. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to MSU football: Spartans complete so many circles in Rose Bowl win

  1. avatar Diane Lewis says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading your columns during this crazy ride. Thanks, Chris

  2. avatar Jmac says:

    The MSU football program has solidified itself in the B1G. A younger member of the conference, it wins it’s share. In 7 decades of B1G football participation, 8 Conference Titles, 4 Rose Bowl Championships, 13 win season, and National Championships. Much to be proud of here.

  3. avatar JD says:

    I, like many completed a circle that was 26 years in the making. While watching the 1988 Rose Bowl with my bride of 3 months, I vowed to take her the next time MSU went. We watched every Rose Bowl and I restated my vow during every game, that the next time, MSU made it we would go. It became a running joke. When Nebraska joined the league and they realigned the conference and MSU would have to win the division, plus the conference title game I openly questioned when the chance would come. And then it happened with this great football team. With help to get two tickets, we attended the game. And it was everything it was supposed to be and more. My Rose Bowl circle took 26 years to complete, but it is now done.

    • avatar jerseyjohn says:

      ditto. my wife has always said her mom talked about the rose parade. i’ve been saying for 26 years that when the spartans make the rose bowl we’ll see the game and the parade. it became a running joke. we are now back home after a cancelled flight out of orange county, a drive to LAX and 2 more cancelled flights. i can’t wait to watch the game on TV.

  4. avatar dmbtierney says:

    It’s funny you mentioned the weather. I was supposed to fly from LAX to Midway on the third. Flight cancelled. Rebooked and flight cancelled. Rebooked and flight cancelled. They finally flew us to Oakland where we then caught a flight to Midway–the only one to land that night, everything else in and out was cancelled. Took half an hour to dig out two cars in blizzard-like conditions, then a five-hour drive home in the same conditions. Now I know how Steve Martin and John Candy felt in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”!

    I know there were hundreds of Spartan fans unable to get home yesterday–I saw and talked to them camped out at LAX. Staying an extra day to soak up the sun came with consequences.

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      Lucky I live in Minny just west of the delays received a special call from one of the four names enshrined in Spartan Stadium while waiting in LAX

  5. avatar MSU Oski says:

    As an MSU and Cal Bears alum, it was great to see the Spartans win this one. I had made plans to travel from Northern California to Disneyland for NYE in January 2013, and the trip ended up with me being in TWO of the Happiest Places on Earth: it was awesome to see all the Spartan green at Disneyland on Monday and Tuesday.

    One additional thought: in six years, the Mighty Nick Saban won only 34 games in East Lansing and no bowl games/titles, etc. In seven seasons now, Dantonio has won 64 (!) games, three bowls, two Big Ten titles and the Rose Bowl.

    Nick who??

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      Enjoyed meeting you Chris at the rally, was joking they should have put up a picture of Saban with the sound clip I took that program as far as it could go

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