William Gholston gets his Big Ten suspension, just in time for Spartans’ big night

Dr. Saturday

Michigan fans had no claim on an actual victory after last Saturday's 28-14 beatdown at Michigan State, but they finally have their moral victory: The Big Ten has officially suspended Spartan defensive end William Gholston for one game as penance for a pair of personal fouls in the second half, when he attempted to realign quarterback Denard Robinson's head at the end of one play and later threw a punch at offensive lineman Taylor Lewan during another. The conference also issued a public reprimand and sent Gholston to his room without dessert.

The suspension is consistent with the Big Ten's usual policy on thuggish play over the last three years — most recently, it suspended Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown for an unabashed knee to the groin of a Northwestern lineman on Oct. 1 — and it comes at a particularly inopportune time for Michigan State: Wisconsin comes steamrolling into East Lansing on Saturday night with the No. 1 scoring offense and the most efficient passer in the nation for what looks like the Big Ten game of the year.

Gholston, the only former five-star recruit on Michigan State's roster, has emerged as a full-time starter as a sophomore, ranking second on the team and eighth in the conference in tackles for loss with seven in six games. If he's not the most productive player on the nation's No. 2 total defense, he may be the best athlete.

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Then again, you don't become the nation's No. 2 defense at this point in the season without a little depth. Seven other Spartans made plays in the Michigan backfield, holding the Wolverines to season lows not only on the scoreboard, but also for rushing yards (83), total yards (251), yards per play (3.7) and third down efficiency (2 of 13). If they're as good as advertised, Gholston's absence against the Badgers won't be any more convincing as an excuse than Michigan State's "dirty play" last week.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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