Game 38: Western Michigan Broncos @ Michigan State Spartans
Saturday, September 9, 2017
Western Michigan Broncos: 0-1
Broken record alert…it was another 6am wake up call. This time for a flight to Detroit and a drive to East Lansing. Michigan State Spartans…here comes The Quest! But the travel always begins the night before with packing. I am not a good packer. I can be known to overpack and just hate doing it so I drag it out and create anxiety where none needs to be created. Beth would like to sarcastically note “No Way”. But this trip, it was not on me. My thirteen year old son took my money clip and did not put it back where he found it. Looking for it was 45 minutes of my life gone. Yes, I said he is 13 not 5. But as Beth would later say, it was my fault because I did not tell anyone what I was looking for. Ok, that is a theory, not my theory, but a theory. “But I’m feeling much better now.” Any anyone that gets that reference should know that was one of my all time favorite shows. Answer later.
New York to Detroit is a LaGuardia departure…ugh. But it was a Delta flight (Delta has its own terminal) and was not too bad this morning. There was no line at the TSA security theater, oops I meant TSA checkpoint, at 4:40 am on a Friday. It was all smooth to Detroit, despite a very full flight. As an aside (aren’t most of my trip reports asides?), why are all these people going to Detroit? Or are they just connecting to elsewhere via Detroit?
An airport the size of Detroit should have on site rental car desks, but it was a shuttle ride to get the car. We ended up with a mid sized SUV because as our very friendly rep stated…”Because we are out of, well, everything”. And they were. It was a mid size SUV or nothing. But at least they did the most important part, which is hold the reservation. This is an obvious reference so no points.
Ninety minutes and a boring drive later, we were in East Lansing. For the record, this was one of the first times in recent memory that Jarrett had the drive time distance from the airport correct. Needless to say Al could easily Google the distance before these trips to verify it but 1) that would require work and 2) Alex hasn’t changed the scoring system so Al refuses to use Google.
East Lansing, Michigan
We found parking in a garage on the Michigan State (“MSU”) campus, only to later find out that we were on the complete wrong side of campus from, well, everything. I guess that’s why there were so many spots open. I am very fond of parking meters that take credit cards and that you can top off via text. Isn’t technology grand?
After failing spectacularly at finding a breakfast place, it was Subway and pizza for breakfast. Yummy. Then a trek across campus to the bookstore. The main bookstore is not in the Union, it is at the International Center, which is at the center of campus, where the Union is on the very edge of campus. That’s not too confusing. Well, you all know what comes next…we made the customary donation to the local economy buying our usual stuff at the bookstore.
Then onto our very own self guided tour around campus. It is always nice when all the sports are in the same area. It makes our wandering around aimlessly much less exhausting. We saw Spartan Stadium, which we were unable to get into. We then stumbled into Munn Ice Arena and figure skating practice. Didn’t know that was an NCAA sport. Needless to say, it was worthwhile to have a seat and watch. Enough said. And a very nice hockey arena this was, although I do have a question as to why the benches were on opposite sides. Fight much? Another aside, there were less parents at the ice skating practice than the field hockey practices and games we have been to. Al will note this for future use.
We then further wandered into the baseball/softball/soccer complex. Is it just us or does right field take a decidedly uphill turn?
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate weather that starts out around 40 degrees and then goes up to over 70. It’s very comfortable and easy to pack for.
Al says, “This is an #amazinghashtag #hashtagabuse”.
We then again walked across campus to McDonel to attend class with Zack (Al’s nephew who is a sophomore at MSU). Zack invited us into the class to see what goes on. What he failed to tell us was that it was the first time the class was meeting and thus it was a syllabus review session. No fun in that, and plus, he should be paying attention. Zack, in his infinite wisdom, is taking a Friday once a week class for three hours. Silly Zack, the goal is no Friday classes, not load up on Friday classes. So much to learn. He’s definitely not graduating in 4 years. But why would you want to?
Tired and hungry, a pit stop at Starbucks was called for as Al had gone 20 minutes without his Mega Venti Grande Iced Chai tea with pumpkin spice mochachino. I do not drink Starbucks but the Subway breakfast needed something else on top of it so I was forced into a Starbucks brownie. Not good.
Anyway, we retrieved the car from the wrong side of campus and headed off to meet our campus facilitator. We were fortunate enough that a friend who works at the school, had some time to drive us around on a private tour of the facilities. Lucky, otherwise we would have wandered all day or watched ice skating. We saw all the major facilities, inside and out, even drove into the basketball arena thru the underground loading dock normally saved for when Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey are in town.
Lansing, Michigan (a state capitol)
After our sports tour, we headed off to do what we try to do in every state capitol, a capitol tour. Lansing was a short 10 minutes away. The capitol website said the capitol was open 8 to 5 with tour hours 9 to 4. We arrived at 3:30. The capitol was closed. What the hell? Is this one of those state legislatures that is in session 2 weeks every other year? It’s not, but the capitol was still closed on a Friday at 3:30 despite the website saying differently. Bummer! But at least there were two canons for Al to sit on. Oh wait, he didn’t because there was a “security guard” present. This is certainly not the Al I know, or the Al that would show up tomorrow.
So we wandered around downtown Lansing. Umm, everything is closed. Something strange definitely happened because is it normal for stores and restaurants to be closed on a Friday at 3:45? This was not closed for good. There were plenty of those storefronts, but also plenty of just closed for the day. Weird. The only food open that did not scare the hell out of us was a bakery. Odd.
With only Subway and a Starbucks brownie in my stomach and the resulting headache, it was off to Blaze Pizza for an early dinner. Not exactly local fare, but it was convenient and much needed, so that’s what it was. And I am a fan. Plus, Blaze satisfies Al’s one meal a weekend that he eats gluten free…which makes everything else better.
Dessert was the MSU Dairy Store. Apparently there is a rivalry between Penn State and Michigan State for the best dairy store. We do not see it. The ice cream is good, but nothing exceptional. What are we missing? But have at it. The more ice cream the better, so rivalry on.
After dessert it was onto the AEPi frat house so Zack could give us a tour of “the house”. Zack was downright giddy as the bathrooms were just updated to the 60’s penal colony look. Just kidding. Communal bathrooms do not get more chic than AEPi at MSU. I will say that the house does look exactly like what you expect a frat house to look like. You interpret that how you like. I will further say that Zack mentioned he either got first choice or last choice of room and now as I write this trip report, I can not remember what he said and my thoughts of his room give no indication of whether this was a first or last choice. I will close by saying that I make these comments with a 45 year old brain. If I look at this with a 19 year old brain that has a permanent 1.6 BAC, passed out looking at a ceiling is passed out looking at a ceiling. Just kidding Nancy. Zack was constantly sober and in fact his roommate mentioned that in the year plus that Zack has been at AEPi, he can not remember ever seeing Zack with his judgment compromised, the night at the strip club notwithstanding.
Anyway…off to the hotel. Needless to say that a 3am wakeup, a long time hiking the MSU campus, and being exhausted from a bad headache caught up to me. I think I fell asleep at 7pm. Woke up at 10 and had to weigh eating an actual dinner or going back to sleep. Sleep won.
After a good night of sleep and the Fairfield Inn continental breakfast with banana walnut waffles, it was off to the AEPi pregame tailgate. The car was safely parked in our designated lot, with only minor difficulty in locating the correct garage. Of course there was a stop at Starbucks on the way to AEPi, which was a good thing as we went down the wrong street to the frat house which made for a longer walk than necessary.
This is probably as good as place as any to mention that Zack has a very real problem. One that requires counseling and support. Zack, we just want you to know that we are all here for you and will support you in any way necessary. The delusions and hallucinations will eventually stop. But you must realize that Jimmy John’s is not food. It is not edible. It is not better than anything else you could ingest. Cat food, better than JJ’s. Licking crumbs out of the carpet, better than JJ’s. Even that food that mom makes that not even the dog will eat, better than JJ’s. Until you come to terms with the fact that Jimmy John’s is the most disgusting, vile, and repulsive stuff on the planet, you can not get better. We are here for you. This comes up because Zack lives next to a Jimmy John’s and we pass by it on the way and I throw up in my mouth every time we go past.
We arrive at the AEPi tailgate. Sorry but this entire section has been removed by editorial discretion. You will need to proceed to the password protected part of the site.
The above section has been redacted. If there was ever a section of these trip reports that needed redacting, it is this one. What the censors will permit us to reveal are the following:
Nancy – you need not worry about Zack as Al never did see Zack drink (Al could not see anything). But rest assured, Zack is not coming home, ever. He was asking about being a house father upon graduation in 8 years.
We did in fact make it to the game although this outcome was not entirely a sure thing. Pre game was spent down on the field making our usual stadium observations and taking in the environment of Spartan Stadium. The environment was classic BigTen, but you could sense that it was just a little off. Not sure if this was the 3-9 record from last year or it was an early season game against a non conference opponent, but it was just missing a little electricity. Al evaluated the teams like a degenerate horse gambler waiting for which horse will dump a load on the way to the starting gate and picked Western Michigan. In the end, he just went against the White Out as the working theory is any team on a fill in the blank with a color out will lose. I really wanted to go with Western and tried to talk myself into it, but went with Sparty instead. With the picks in, we headed up to the press box to watch the game.
This is the second time the Quest would be seeing this match up as two years ago we were at Western Michigan when the Broncos gave the Spartans all they could handle. Would this game be the same? PJ Fleck has moved onto Minnesota but coming off an opening loss to USC in which WMU looked very solid, hopes were high that the team would not have much of a fall off. MSU was hoping to continue a rebound from last years very disappointing 3-9 campaign and follow up a solid opening game win against Bowling Green.
WMU took the opening kick off, ran 7 plays, and was intercepted by MSU on the MSU 27 yard line. Both teams then traded punts with MSU taking over on its 21 yard line. A few plays later, MSU QB Brian Lewerke got free on a 61 yard run and we had ourselves the first score of the game in a MSU touchdown. Broncos went three and out. The Spartans did one play better going four and out. WMU topped that going five and out. MSU went four and out. WMU went three and out. Anyone here sensing a pattern. But alas, MSU would take this next possession 51 yards in 9 plays for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead. We now return to regular programming…WMU went three and out. MSU goes seven and out. Five plays later and we are at halftime with a 14-0 MSU lead. WMU had less than 100 yards of total offense in the 1H.
MSU took the 2H kick, three and out. The offensive explosion continues. WMU takes the next possession into MSU territory but is stuffed on a 4th and 1 from the MSU 41. MSU then fumbled on the ensuing possession and it was returned 61 yards for a WMU touchdown. Did we have a ball game at 14-7? No. MSU took the next possession 75 yards in 6 plays for a 21-7 lead. Three punts later, we entered the 4Q.
An LJ Scott led drive gave MSU a 28-7 lead after the Spartans went 76 yards in 9 plays. WMU returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a 28-14 game. The game would end this way, although WMU did have one last drive covering 16 plays but only 53 yards. WMU’s 14 points came on defense and special teams. The offense yielded zero points and a total offensive output of 195 yards as compared to MSU’s 457. This game was not as close as the score might indicate. At the conclusion of this game, the Spartans still have not given up a touchdown on defense. Stat of the day…WMU went 1 for 17 on 3rd and 4th down in this game. Is Sparty back? The defense might be. Time will tell.
But most importantly, I stretch my lead over Al in our Quest long game picking contest.
After the game and the usual post game field photos, Al met up with an old West Hempstead friend, Bari Zipkin Melder. You never know when you will run into people Al knows, but in this case, we can genuinely say these were good people. Al went to many years of school pre 18 years of age with Bari, and hadn’t seen her in ages. Bari, you look the same as you did the last time we saw you in West Hempstead! Also, has anyone found Brother Melder in the Composite?
With four very good night games on the slate, it was off to Champps to catch dinner and more football. I can say with some degree of certainty that this trip was not about getting a sense of the local fare. I did the usual pre trip research and had a good list to work from, but sometimes things go in a different direction. This was a chain food kind of trip. We do not make a habit of it, but sometimes it just works out that way. I know that we will be eating much better at UNLV in a month’s time.
It was a late wake up and the 90 minute drive to the Detroit airport. With the rental car returned and a quick trip through security, we settled in at Gordon Biersch for some NFL games, but more importantly, following our fantasy teams. This was week 1 and my team scored the most points in our league by 59 points. Sorry, I could not resist. But as I write this, I am 2-1 and Al is 3-0. So he has had the last laugh, at least for now. I guess I should say travel home was uneventful and we arrived safely.
#thequest #collegefootballquest #michiganstate #UncleAl
Michigan State would go on to a 9-3 season, tied with Penn State for second place in the BigTen East division. The Spartans beat arch rival Michigan, but lost to Ohio State. This earned a Holiday Bowl bid against Washington State, which MSU won easily 42-17, getting to a 10 win season.
Western Michigan after dropping its first two games, would go on a four game winning streak but finish at 6-6 without a bowl bid.
For our Michigan State photo album, Please click here. You can view as a collage or run as a slideshow. There are comments to explain what is in the photo but most are self explanatory. Thanks to Google, I can no longer embed the slide show with comments.