Michigan State Finally Gets Burned
There have been few college teams this year luckier than the Michigan State Spartans.
The soon-to-be-deposed CFP No 7 team wouldn't be where they are today without supernatural help.
Amazing fortune first appeared for Sparty against Rutgers -- a team they should've easily beaten by 20 points -- when the Scarlet Knights' quarterback ended the game by spiking the ball on fourth down:
The fickle finger of fate again intervened the following week, when State pulled a win out of thin air in the Big House.
Really, how does this happen without some animal sacifice ritual -- a wolverine, for sure -- deep in a dank forest somewhere in the Upper Peninsula:
After that, it appeared the Spartans could turn on the cruise control for a couple of weeks.
All they had to do was beat the mediocre teams left and their schedule and then focus on Ohio State. A victory over the Buckeyes followed by a triumph in the Big Ten title game, and their playoff tickets would be punched.
Enter karma, guised as just possibly the unluckiest team in the NCAA, Nebraska's Cornhuskers.
And yet, things were looking good again for Sparty, being up 12 points in the final two minutes. But the Huskers made it to paydirt with 1:47 remaining in the game, cutting the lead to a mere 5 points. And then, the vaunted Blackshirts suddenly remembered who they were, and Michigan State was forced into a three-and-out, punting the ball deep to the Nebraska 9-yard line with less than a minute to play.
After stringing together a series of big yardage plays, Coach Mike Riley's charges found themselves at the Spartans' 30-yard line with 22 seconds to go. Then this happened.
Well, he wasn't pushed out.
Either the officials on the field and in the replay booth staged a show of sympathy for their incompetent brethren in the ACC or wanted to get out of Lincoln alive. Or both.
Awful call or not, the fact remains that Sparty finally got burned. The team that twice played with fire and escaped finally ended up on the wrong side of luck.
Maybe they'll ultimately think of all this as a life lesson. They should.