Final score was ugly, but Mark Dantonio ‘proud’ of Michigan State’s intensity for most of the game

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Eugene, Ore. — To say Saturday’s game was a tale of two halves for Michigan State’s offense would be quite the understatement.

No. 7 Michigan State ended up losing to No. 3 Oregon, 46-27, on Saturday at Autzen Stadium. And as much as the Ducks’ high-flying offense had to do with it, the Spartans’ offense disappeared in the second half.

“We didn’t get it done offensively,” guard Travis Jackson said. “We scored 24 points in the first half and then scored three in the second half. That is unacceptable by our standards. Oregon played a great game. It’s definitely a disappointing loss, but it’s a loss we’ll learn from.”

Not only did Michigan State score 24 points in the first half, it scored all 24 in the second quarter.

It was an impressive run after the Ducks had opened an early 11-0 lead. But the Spartans were just as impressive storming back.

“I’m proud of our football team,” said coach Mark Dantonio, “how we bounced back and came out in the second quarter and the start of the third.”

Even after Jeremy Langford scored on a 16-yard run to get the Spartans on the board and Oregon answered two plays later with a 70-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota to Devon Allen, it didn’t slow Michigan State.

Michael Geiger kicked a 34-yard field goal to make it 18-10 before Connor Cook hit Tony Lippett for a 7-yard touchdown to cut the margin to 18-17. The Spartans then took the lead with 18 seconds left in the first half when Cook hit Josiah Price for a 7-yard score that put Michigan State ahead.

Geiger added a 42-yard field goal in the third quarter to extend the lead to 27-18, proving to be the final points for Michigan State.

“It was still early in the game,” said Lippett, who finished with 11 catches for 133 yards. “There were 25 minutes left on the clock. It’s a long game with ups and downs.”

And from that point, the Spartans’ offense only found the downs.

“We had opportunities on offense, especially me,” Cook said. “The opportunities were there and I needed to grasp them and I didn’t.”

The biggest came in the third quarter with Michigan State still ahead 27-18. Facing a third-and-10 from the MSU 31, Cook came inches from hitting fullback Trevon Pendleton as he scrambled. No defender was near Pendleton and it would have been a big play at the least and potentially a scoring play.

“Horrible play by me,” Cook said. “The pocket collapsed and no one was open downfield and that is on me. I’ve got to make that play. If Trevon makes that catch he is still running right now. It’s totally on me.”

In the end, the numbers will look good for Michigan State. It finished with 466 total yards and Lippett and Cook were solid individually. But when it counted in the second half, the Spartans came up dry.

While Oregon was ripping off 28 straight points, Michigan State went 11 plays with only one gaining any positive yardage – a 1-yard run. Throw in two interceptions and the failure to convert on fourth down in the final minutes, and it was a disappointing night for the Spartans’ offense.

“It was a big game on a big stage,” Lippett said. “But we just have to go back, watch the film and try and figure out what we did wrong.”