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Grading the Game: Michigan State

A+ for the vibes, and pretty much everything else.

NCAA Football: Washington at Michigan State Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

Passing Offense - A

Michael Penix Jr. was his usual phenomenal self, completing 77% of his passes for 473 yards and 4 touchdowns, almost all of which was done in the first half. It was his third straight game this season exceeding 400 passing yards. To put in perspective how great he was, his lowest rated passing grade was verse the blitz and he still went 7/7 for 138 yards and 1 touchdown.

As great as Penix was, the wide receivers put in a highlight reel performance of their own. Ja’Lynn Polk absorbed a big hit while reeling in a deep ball. He even had a catch-and-run touchdown off a deflection, outrunning most of the Michigan State defense. Rome Odunze finished with 180 yards, including hauling in Penix rainbow shot over a defensive back for 50 yards. In total, PFF notes six contested catch opportunities for Washington, and the receivers caught five of them.

I hate to give this anything but an A+, but WR Taeshaun Lyons dropped what would have been a touchdown in the fourth quarter which ended up as an interception for Michigan State, UW’s only turnover of the day.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Washington at Michigan State Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rushing Offense - A-

As usual, the run game is not going to get much attention with all the numbers the pass game is putting up. But, Saturday’s performance - 28 rushes for 178 yards - is probably closer to what people want as a compliment for the pass game. Dillon Johnson started the game off with some strong running, taking advantage of softer defense afraid of downfield passing.

Probably the biggest takeaway was the play of freshman running back Tybo Rogers. It all happened when the game was well out of reach, but his 15 carries for 74 yards showed burst and vision in the hole that made coaches sing his praises all off season. Speaking of young guys playing well - true freshman Landon Hatchett got 20 running snaps on the offensive line and PFF rated him #2 on the team in run blocking. Richard Newton looked strong in limited action (4 rushes, 29 yards) but it seems like Rodgers, Johnson, and Will Nixon are ahead in the pecking order.

Passing Defense - A-

The Washington defense held Michigan State QBs Noah Kim and Katin Houser to under 6 yards per attempt without a passing touchdown, and if you discount the 61 yard pass Houser completed late against the backups, the numbers are abysmal. While the Huskies were only credited with two sacks and seven QB hurries, they did just enough to make Kim feel uncomfortable. He certainly missed some easy throws, but players like CB Jabbar Muhammad continue to play great - he was targeted six times and allowed just one reception. CB Mishael Powell got an interception, and CB Thaddeus Dixon allowed only two catches on his six targets. Considering Washington was down multiple starters in the secondary (S Asa Turner and S Kam Fabiculanan) it was a great performance.

Rushing Defense - A

Michigan State got simply nothing going on the ground, despite RB Nathan Carter looking like a fast and powerful runner through two weeks of the season. Final numbers for running backs were 21 carries for 59 yards and one late touchdown. LBs Edefuan Ulofoshio and Alphonzo Tuputala had four tackles a piece and were clogging running lanes all night. DT Jacob Bandes continues to pop this season and PFF credits him with two “stops” on just 8 pass defense snaps.

Special Teams - A

Another strong outing for the kicking game. On kickoffs, WR Germie Bernard looks like an exciting player and the coverage units are pinning teams deep - Michigan State’s average starting field position was the 22 yard line. K Grady Gross hit both of his field goals and P Jack McCallister’s punting was solid, though with an offense like this is hardly matters.

Coaching - A-

Despite the turmoil the Michigan State program is going through right now, that is still a solid B1G program that Washington dominated on the road. OC Ryan Grubb’s offense continues to dazzle with his ability to scheme guys wide open and constantly keep defenses guessing. Hopefully the coaches work on cleaning up the penalties (11 for 110 yards), though some “holding” calls were just Washington players dominating their opponent. Beating out of conference power 5 teams on the road has been far from a given in recent Husky history and DeBoer has done it in back to back seasons (Texas, and now Michigan State).