The Michigan State Spartans struggled mightily in their 2012 season opener, turning the ball over four times and getting called for numerous bone-headed penalties. But they still managed to win, 17-13 against the tough Boise State Broncos.
Junior running back Le'Veon Bell had an incredible night, bulldozing, twisting and stutter-stepping his way to two touchdowns, 210 yards rushing, plus 55 receiving yards. The Spartan defense did not give up a touchdown; Boise State scored its only TD on a returned interception.
Boise State, renowned for its blue field, has been a giant-killer in recent years, defeating heavy hitters Oregon, Georgia and Virginia Tech. This year's team isn't as potent as the 2010 and 2011 squads since the Broncos lost several high profile players to the NFL draft, including quarterback Kellen Moore, who is on the Detroit Lions' roster.
Spartan junior Quarterback Andrew Maxwell, getting his first start, threw four interceptions, but in fairness a couple of them were in and out of the hands of Spartan receivers. At times Maxwell has a tendency to drill the ball into the receiver's hands when a softer touch would suffice.
Bell probably saved the Spartans from having to punt from their own endzone in the third quarter when they were backed up on their own 5-yard line, third down and 16. He took a handoff, ran right and appeared to be stopped for a loss, but squirmed out of the tackle and away from the defense to run 35 yards to mid-field. It was one of Bell's most impressive long runs.
Bell is big, strong and fast -- a lethal combination. His agility and ability to spin out of tackles or juke defenders is remarkable for such a mammoth running back. How this guy ever stayed under the radar during college recruiting is beyond me.
It was a long, tough week at work for me, and I even took a nap before the game. But it was well worth watching, and makes me even more enthusiastic about the Spartans' prospects this season. Only one drawback: It was a hot day in East Lansing today, with a high of about 95, and the temperature at game time was probably in the mid 80s. Way too hot for football, but we'll take it.
CLINT MADE MY DAY — Kudos to Clint Eastwood for his unorthodox ad-lib "speech" (really more of a standup routine) during the Republican National Convention. The Obama empty chair spoof has earned mixed reviews, with many of the dinosaur network hacks sounding cries of alarm about how it might backfire for the GOP and didn't send the right message. (As if they care!) Not a bad idea to have a legendary actor endorse your candidate and provide comic relief from the tightly scripted convention.