That is what you have to call this game. In the fourth quarter we proved that we have not learned anything as a program. We were content to play prevent defense and conservative offense, not doing anything to preserve the victory. To be fair, two of Michigan State's 4th quarter drives were 20 yards or less because of turnovers, but you have to do SOMETHING! For the second straight year we had a bowl bid on the line with a double digit 4th quarter lead against the Spartans. For the second straight year, we choked.
There is no reason we should be outscored in the fourth quarter 22-3 by anyone. The only reason we even got three was from a great return by T.J. Barbarette. It has to be the coaching that loses these games. The players on the field did not change at the start of the fourth quarter. We had our share of mistake and bad breaks. I still need to see the near interception that would have sealed it, but when Purdue got the ball with 12:42 left and up 28-13, it should have been over.
There is no reason whatsoever for Henry to throw it at that point. You have rushed for nearly 200 yards on the day. You have a quarterback that is both mobile and big. He can make yards after contact. RUN THE BALL AND THE CLOCK!!!!!
What do we do? We call two straight passes on first down. The first was a catch by Gary Bush that was called back via a hold. The second was an interception by Chris L. Rucker. If you're going to get conservative, then get conservative and move the clock by grinding it. The ground game was clearly there all day. the game was lost on that play. We just did not know it yet.
So Barbarette bails us out and we get the long figgie by Carson Wiggs. We only need one stop and it is over, as we're still up 31-20. At least after the Barbarette return we were finally doing the right thing and running it. Instead, MSU picks us apart in our prevent (from winning) defense. B.J. Cunningham gets his number called on three straight plays before Mark Dell scores and gets the deuce. Now we're only up three.
You know the rest. Bullet-riddled shoes, J.B. Gibboney's special teams has yet another breakdown, and MSU has it at the two after a blocked punt. The game was over there, even before Rob Henry's game-sealing interception.
Clearly, this is not a loss on the players. Ricardo Allen is a freaking stud. Rob Henry matured greatly today and for three quarters he was an excellent quarterback and leader. Antavian Edison, Keith Carlos, Cortez Smith, and Al-Terek McBurse all made great plays today. Ryan Kerrigan is an all-World talent. This is on the coaches.
J.B. Gibboney needs to be fired: immediately. He is as useless as an asshole on my elbow. Danny Hope needs to play NCAA Football '11 or Madden '11 in order to learn how to use timeouts. Someone needs to tell this program that games are not over at the end of the third quarter, because our absolutely infuriating tendency to let up on the gas has been there since 1999.
I just have no more words right now. Maybe I'll have more later. It is a damn shame to see an effort like this wasted. We had it today. We were the better team on the field, and we collapsed in a way that is bad even for us.