Tom's Take: 3 things I learned from Michigan State's opening win

B1G HIGHLIGHT - Connor Cook takes huge hit to left knee on TD pass to Tony Lippett.

Michigan State took care of business in impressive fashion coming off a magical 13-1 season that included a Big Ten and Rose Bowl championship. The Spartans’ 45-7 victory over Jacksonville State sent a strong message that it’s business as usual in East Lansing. Yes, JSU was overmatched. Still, the Spartans did what they should do: crush ‘em. This was a classic clear-the-bench blowout and an opening salvo announcing that MSU is the team to beat in the Big Ten. Bring on Oregon!


Get our latest Week 1 coverage:

Here is what I learned.

1. The retooled defense is just fine. This unit replaced six starters and was dominant vs. a Jacksonville State offense that typically is strong and explosive. The unit helped Michigan State build a 38-0 halftime edge and allowed 244 total yards, including just 22 yards rushing on 25 carries.

B1G HIGHLIGHT - Shilique Calhoun doesn't give up, gets sack for minus-24 yards.

2. The offense looked to be in midseason form. The Spartans notched 393 yards by halftime and 565 overall. No shock there. This should be one of the better offenses in the Big Ten led by Connor Cook, who hit 12-of-13 passes for 285 yards with three TDs in a half of work. The offense was outscored by the defense two touchdowns to four through two games last year. MSU had 297 yards vs. Western Michigan and 265 vs. USF, scoring a combined 47 points and 562 yards in the opening games of 2013.

B1G HIGHLIGHT - It's still the first quarter, but here's Connor Cook's third TD pass.

3. Michigan State will take lots of mojo to its big game at Oregon next week. Bumps and bruises to key contributors aside, things couldn’t have gone much better for the Spartans in what essentially was an exhibition game. The offense may have to score a lot of points to beat the Ducks. Yes, the Spartan defense looks good. But it will face one of the nation’s top attacks next week and figures to get gashed a few times.

B1G HIGHLIGHT - Kurtis Drummond comes up with the big-time hit to force fourth down.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (7 Comments)
Bloop on 8/30/2014 @ 12:09am EDT Said:

Jacksonville State!? This proves absolutely nothing about MSU this year, except they can beat a team far inferior in talent and resources. Let me know when they beat a real team, a team actually in the FBS would be a start.

Charlie Damron on 8/30/2014 @ 8:03am EDT Said:

It was Jacksonville State! I had never even heard of them until yesterday. Next week…

JRF on 8/30/2014 @ 8:08am EDT Said:

My concern is MSU’s pass defense. I am sure Oregon noted the quick passes that were completed for big gains against the defense. And did that not look like “Oregon-minor” last night? I am sure adjustments will be made, but, I think it is a worry. And please be noted … this time of the year, I am a B1G fan.

bigtengrad on 8/30/2014 @ 9:59am EDT Said:

I am not an MSU fan, but thought they looked decent enough. However, this was just one more game that illustrated the need to stay away from scheduling the FCS teams. Everybody does it, but hopefully the SOS looked at by the playoff committee will discourage this in the future. MSU looked good, but even they have no clue after that game how good they may or may not be. Oregon should provide that answer.

BigRedAvenger on 8/30/2014 @ 10:06am EDT Said:

I think someone is laying it on a little too thick. 45-7 against a FCS team? That should be a minimum. I have a feeling we will see some bigger wins in the B1G today, some against FBS teams.

Ben on 8/30/2014 @ 11:01am EDT Said:

To all of the people commenting above, do you not realize we took our starters out and didn’t play the first team O or D for the whole second half?

MSU#1-Rose Bowl Win, B1G Champs! 13-1! 42 wins in 4 years! on 8/30/2014 @ 12:42pm EDT Said:

Unless you’re a Wisconsin or a Rutgers fan this week you should criticize your own teams first game! lol