To Win Rose Bowl, Spartans Will Have To Overcome Loss of Bullough

Michigan State College Football Max Bullough

To Win Rose Bowl, Spartans Will Have To Overcome Loss of Bullough

The Michigan State Spartans have a tough task at hand for the Rose Bowl, as they will be without middle linebacker Max Bullough. Bullough was suspended for the remainder of the season on December 26th for a violation of team rules. Michigan State hasn’t released any more information about  what led to the suspension.

Not having Bullough is a huge blow for the Michigan State defense.  Bullough was a three-year starter at middle linebacker and a team captain.  He was the heart and sole of the defense that has been one of the best in the country this season. The Spartans ranked 5th in passing yards allowed, 4th in first downs allowed and scoring defense, 2nd in third down conversion percentage defense, team passing efficiency defense and rushing defense, and 1st in total defense.

What the Spartans will miss the most is Bullough’s mental ability.  Bullough is a very smart football player and calls the plays on the field for the Spartans.  He is known for making audibles at the line of scrimmage and always seems to be in the right spot at the right time. 

That’s not saying that Bullough’s physical stats will be easy to replace, because they won’t be.  Bullough is third on the team with 76 tackles and 9.5 tackles for a loss.  He also is tied for second on the team with 10 quarterback hits, a testament to his ability to diagnose a play and put himself in the right position at the right time. A game against Stanford is the type of game a team would want Max Bullough on their side for.  Stanford is a power running offense and the game depends a lot on who wins at the line of scrimmage.  Bullough would provide a physical presence at the linebacker spot to stop the rushing attack to go along with the defensive smarts to read the play and make changes at the line of scrimmage.

Replacing Bullough will either be senior Kyler Ellsworth or sophomore Darien Harris.  Both have seen time this season, but not much of it as they have 10 and 7 tackles respectively.  Neither player has the experience of calling plays or making the adjustments at the line of scrimmage.  Michigan State will likely rely on multiple players for that task.

Without Bullough, Denicos Allen will become the leader of the linebacker unit.  Allen leads the team with 91 tackles and 15.5 tackles for a loss and is second on the team with 5.5 sacks. The Spartans will need everybody to pick up their game in Bullough’s absence, as there is no one player on the roster that can replace the lost production.