Column: The Spartans aren't just good, they're exciting to watch
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — As MSU’s season wore on these past few weeks, I’ve been hesitant.
After all, the Spartans have shown positive strides in their game, no doubt about that. Fans can poke fun about defeating two MAC schools, but those were undoubtedly solid wins.
The Notre Dame game was a blowout disaster, but shutting down Iowa was a mature, gritty win.
So as we near the midway point of the season, it’s easy to say now — these Spartans are good.
Or at the very minimum, they’ll be competitive.
That’s a long cry away from the beginning of the season, when head coach Mark Dantonio and his squad was just looking to heal the pains of 3-9. The Spartans were never expected to compete in the Big Ten; skepticism followed their every step.
So after a 2-0 start to conference play — and a win over a top-10 Michigan team — they’re right in the middle of the Big Ten race. They’re still a dark-horse contender to represent the Big Ten East in Indianapolis again.
The victory was never pretty, it was downright horrendous at times amid the monsoon. A classic Big Ten showdown, as I’d see it. By the final quarter, it was just a field position battle.
But damn, nonetheless, that was a thriller.
That was the edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting nature the 2015 MSU team constantly displayed. Those Spartans often won their matchups in terrifying, heart-exploding ways. Look no further than the million Jalen Watts-Jackson replays that have dominated your social media and TV this week.
If your heart wasn’t pumping that entire fourth quarter, college football’s magnificence might be lost on you.
This is an exciting, unpredictable, albeit amusing MSU team. The Spartans will be fun, that much is certain. They’ll have you pacing, waiting for the end of the game.
Chaos consumes college football, it’s what makes the sport so exciting. I wrote before that growing pains was going to make MSU an unknown entity.
That’s no longer the case. Instead, it means the Spartans are good enough to wreck some havoc based on sheer talent alone. To make it clearer: They don’t have to outperform as a team to win, all they have to do it limit stupid mistakes.
This MSU defense is scary, one that’s anchored by the likes of linebackers Joe Bachie and Chris Frey. That core brings stability to MSU, much like the glory days of 2013. The weather and rain played an assist in limiting Michigan, but forcing five turnovers is no small feat.
The most rousing piece of the Spartan puzzle, though, is quarterback Brian Lewerke. He’ll find ways to thrill a crowd. Look no further than his first down run deep in the fourth quarter.
He fumbled the snap, gasping a fan base that was terrified of a repeat of 2015. But instead, he picked the ball up and on the way, the game-changing run to move the chains.
The Phoenix native is going to make mistakes; some of them costly. However, Lewerke's nature of turning plays will fit this team well as it navigates the rest of 2017.
But for at least the foreseeable future, football should be exciting again in East Lansing. A breath of fresh air to rejuvenate a somewhat lacking Spartan Stadium crowd.
So welcome back to chaos, MSU fans. Just take your seat, after past years, there’s a spot already reserved for Dantonio’s teams.