MSU football snaps trend of fourth quarter struggles in 56-17 win over Indiana
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- No. 8 MSU had taken a beating from both media and fans during the last two weeks, despite winning both games.
In back-to-back weeks, MSU let double-digit fourth quarter leads dwindle down to one-score games. And there was a sense that it was getting to the players and coaches.
During Tuesday’s press conference, it seemed head coach Mark Dantonio was growing tired of hearing about the fourth quarter struggles that nearly ruined the Spartans’ season the last two weeks. Next Tuesday there surely won’t be as many doubters when addressing MSU’s finishing capability.
After falling behind 17-14 late in the second quarter, MSU (6-1 overall, 3-0 Big Ten) reeled off 42 consecutive points to coast to a 56-17 win over Indiana (3-4 overall, 0-3 Big Ten) on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“We talked about the fourth quarter issue but to me it was more about keeping the edge when things started to turn or when there would be adversity, how would we react,” head coach Mark Dantonio said. “And I thought we reacted extremely well in the second half, at the end of the second quarter.”
MSU held Indiana to only 11 yards in the second half after surrendering 213 in the opening 30 minutes. More importantly for the Spartans was reducing big plays on the defensive side of the ball.
Indiana was able to get scoring drives off a 65-yard run by junior running back Tevin Coleman that resulted in a field goal, and a 75-yard reverse touchdown run by senior wide receiver Shane Wynn.
Junior defensive end Shilique Calhoun said reducing the big plays creates more confidence and motivation in the unit, which ultimately led to the better performance in the second half by the Spartan defense.
“You don’t want them to be able to create big plays so when we are able to do it, it’s just fires our team up, it puts motivation in us,” said Calhoun, who finished with four total tackles including an 11-yard sack. “It just gets us ready for the next drive or the next play.”
On the other side of the ball, junior quarterback Connor Cook and the Spartan offense were able to bounce back from an interception in the second quarter that sparked the Hoosier second quarter lead.
Following the game, senior running back Nick Hill talked about the team keeping a positive mindset after they went down for the first time since playing Oregon on Sept. 6.
“Just keep the emotion going, keep the ethusiasm going, keep the sideline going,” said Hill, who had a career day rushing for 178 yards and one touchdown. “When the sideline is up and the sideline’s jumping around, we feed off that. When the offense is moving the ball, scoring points, defense feeds off that. Same thing when the defense makes a stop, we feed on that as an offense.”
Closing out Indiana with ease and getting the figurative monkey off the Spartans’ back was certainly a feeling something some players talked about after the game.
After struggling to put Purdue away last weekend, senior offensive lineman Connor Kruse said with a smile that the trip home this week will be a lot smoother than a week ago.
“We had a great win, it was an unbelievable win,” Kruse said. “Last week was a good win too but it’s not the same feeling when something like last week happens then (when) something like this week happens.
Great runs at the end of the game, great cutting down the blocks like our offense did, so yeah, it’ll be a lot more fun.”