MSU Plays in the Redbox Bowl

Sep 30, 2017; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans linebacker Joe Bachie (35)

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 30, 2017; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans linebacker Joe Bachie (35)

Colin Koot, Writer

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After a 7-5 season riddled with injuries for Michigan State University football, they look to close out the season with a win against 8-4 Oregon, in the Redbox Bowl.

MSU’s faulty offense resulted in the Spartans losing a lot of close, low scoring games this year. “They have been pretty awful offensively, but the defense is playing at a championship level,” said freshman Eric Rice. The Spartans have mostly run power plays up the middle this year, and a goal of the coaching staff is to get to the outside more often.

The Spartan defense, led by Junior linebacker Joe Bachie, is one of the best units in the country. “Joe Bachie is a great middle linebacker, great tackler, and he can play (in) pass coverage too,” said freshman Alex Bushey. The Spartan linebacker had 94 tackles this year and is also a team captain.

Oregon Junior quarterback Justin Herbert is considered by many football experts as the top quarterback prospect in college. “Scouts love Herbert’s size, athleticism, and arm,” said Kalyn Kahler, a writer for Sports Illustrated. Herbert threw 28 touchdowns and rushed for almost 200 yards and two touchdowns.

Oregon is known for its fast paced, spread offense that wears defenses down, however, the Spartan defense is ranked number ten in the country. “I don’t think that it will make a difference because we have played against good offenses before such as Ohio State and Michigan and we handled them pretty well, so I think we’ll be good on defense.” said Rice. The Spartan defense allows 81.3 rush yards per game, which is the fewest in the FBS.

Michigan State has had its fair share of quarterback issues this year. Junior Brian Lewerke injured his right shoulder in mid October, leading to redshirt Freshman Rocky Lombardi starting for the rest of the season. “I think (wide receiver) Cody White needs to have a big game because our quarterbacks aren’t very accurate right now, so we need a wide receiver to step it up,” said Rice. Cody White averaged 13.6 yards per catch this year and produced 513 yards from scrimmage.

Brian Lewerke looks to play on December 31, but it’s all up to how good his shoulder feels. “I think those are things that he has to answer because I think it’s the type of injury where he has to feel comfortable throwing,” said Mark Dantonio, MSU head football coach. “I do think it’s improved … it’s just a matter of how well is he throwing. That would be my take on it. We’ll make those decisions way later.” Last year, when he was healthy, Lewerke completed 59 percent of his passes, and threw 20 touchdowns.

This is the second straight year that Michigan State has played in California for their bowl game. “I think as a general rule, Michigan State fans travel pretty well and that there are MSU fans all over the country,” said MSU alumna, Megan Stirrat, “I think for some people in the Midwest, where it is snowy and cold, this will be a good opportunity to get out of the cold – or visit a place like California where maybe they’ve never been.” There are many Spartan alumni in California that rarely have the opportunity to watch MSU football.