FINAL: MSU football falls to Washington after unprecedented week

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Emily Lance

The Spartan football team enters to “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC on Sept. 16.

EAST LANSING –  A long, tumultuous week was made even longer for the Michigan State football team, courtesy of the Washington Huskies. A 41-7 blowout loss would be the nail in the coffin this week for a team that has had a lot to come to terms with in one week. 

Emily Lance

Former HC Mark Dantanio made his return to the Spartan coaching staff this week after Mel Tucker’s suspension.

There were no real expectations for the MSU squad coming into this game, as the football program had been turned upside-down this past week. Players, coaches, and fans were all reeling in the fact that Mel Tucker has likely coached his last football game, and Harlon Barnett is this team’s new leader. Additionally, former MSU head coach Mark Dantonio returned to East Lansing, but this time in an associate head coaching role. 

While Spartan football players went through an unlikely head coaching change just one week before the most anticipated game yet, there was a sense of hope and determination filling the Michigan State community. 

As the Spartans lined the tunnel, Thunderstruck playing on the stadium speakers, and literal flames billowing into the evening air, the moment felt as though the best was ahead for MSU football.  

While tonight may not have been MSU’s best performance, acting head coach Harlon Barnett promised everyone that this moment was a learning experience for a resilient team.

“Our best football is ahead of us,” said Barnett. “You can always come back from value moments if you choose to believe and trust.”

Washington controlled this contest from start to finish. No matter where you look on the stat sheet or highlight tape, Washington was simply the better team. Heisman candidate quarterback Michael Penix Jr. threw for 473 yards and 4 touchdowns while completing 77% of his passes in just under 3 quarters of play. The Huskies very talented receiving core was highlighted by Rome Odunze, who reeled in 8 passes and went for 180 yards. 

“They (Washington) have a real good understanding of their offense…they trust each other,” said Barnett. “Credit to them.”

The Spartans fell early, going down 14-0 after the first quarter. The deficit only worsened, as MSU was down 35-0 at halftime. The Huskies put up 713 yards on the MSU defense, the most ever allowed in program history. 

Scoring the lone touchdown for Michigan State was backup quarterback Katin Hauser. This was a positive for the Spartans, as it was pleasant to see the redshirt freshman get some in-game reps, and ultimately score his first collegiate touchdown. 

Noah Kim struggled in the contest, completing 39% of his passes for 136 yards. Washington’s defense got to him throughout the game, and many of his throws felt forced. Coach Barnett reinforced the fact that playing a top-ten team is good for everyone and prepares players for big moments, and that is sure to be the case for Kim.

“First time being a head coach in a game, and I’ll remember all of this,” said Barnett. “I promise you I’ll remember every single bit of it.”

Michigan State Football has a lot to process after this week. This is territory that was not in a single Spartan’s head just a mere 8 days ago. A new coach, the return of an old coach, and many different thoughts swirling through players’ minds. Where Michigan State goes from here is to be determined, but through it all, there is one thing that still holds to be true: Spartans Will.

The Maryland Terrapins will visit Spartan Stadium next week. Kickoff is at 3:30 on Peacock.

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