Just like “January. February. Izzo” should not be a thing anymore, it may be time to retire the Michigan State “No Fly Zone” as well. It’s more like deregulated, laissez-faire airspace these days, as Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson threw three TD passes (tying a career high he’s set nine times before) to lead the Wildcats to a massive 29-19 upset victory over the #20 Michigan State Spartans.
Thorson ruined Homecoming for the favored by double digits hosts, as he nearly finished with career highs in attempts at 47 (he’s had 52 twice), completions at 31 (he’s had 33 twice) and yards (finishing with 373, ten shy of his career single game best).
He did at least surpass one personal record, as his career longest pass of 66 was eclipsed when he connected with Kyric McGowan for a 77 yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Now that the Michigan State No Fly Zone has been deregulated and the air space privatized (MSU came into this one 103rd nationally in pass defense, and today’s gashing through the air will only make that ranking even worse), the Spartans can instead take pride in being #1 nationally against the run; and by a very wide margin too.
MSU came into this one with more than 20 yards less allowed per average than any other team in the nation.
They held NU to only eight yards rushing today on 20 carries, for an average per rush that is well below 1.0 I guess you could call it the MSU run defense the Restricted Access Road.
However, Northwestern wanted to do just enough, or at least try to do enough on the ground, to keep the Spartans D honest.
“We’ve seen other teams abandon it,” said Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald after the game. “We didn’t want to abandon it completely.”
Fitz also had a lot of praise for Clayton Thorson: “I think he’s a warrior, everything that’s he’s overcome just to play in the opener. I think he’s finally getting himself closer to 100% and that gives him a lot of confidence. He’s a winner and terrific as a leader.”
For the 72,850 in attendance, they witnessed what could be the end of the Spartans league title hopes this year.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, is currently a regular contributor to SB Nation, WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.