Talk about how the running game got you guys established early. Couple big runs on that first drive.
“Yeah, De’Veon was running really hard. All our backs were going. Both teams had success with the run early. That got us going. Set up quite a few things in the play action game and the passing game, and then our guys made plays.
“Really felt—[turns to SID] who’d you have in here? Saw Wilton. Who else was in here?”
SID: Wilton and Amara.
“Amara! Amara Darboh. [laughs uproariously] Heck of a game. That’s maybe one of his best. Talk about guys making plays, Amara Darboh was really making plays today. And Wilton, another tremendous game by him. You know, the throw he made before the half to Amara on the deep in route, I thought that was especially good after taking a hit, getting knocked down, taking a pretty hard hit and then coming back and throwing that one right on the money.
“Defensively, we made plays. Guys made plays. Three out of four fourth-down were huge in the ballgame. Jabrill getting the—got a fourth down stop and also picking up that conversion at the end, scoring a touchdown. Guys made plays. That’s the way I feel right now. Got the W.”
Jim, you talked about Amara going into the season as being your best receiver, and I think we’re seeing what you saw. Talk about what he’s done in the season to take it up even another level and what you’re getting from him right now.
“Well, his game is at a very high level. Some of the highest I’ve seen of a college receiver. I think he’s well established as a great playmaker and also disciplined in every route that he runs, he blocks, great teammate—he does it all and does it the best he could possibly do. He’s got a lot of god-given talent and great work ethic, et cetera. It was a premier game for him today.”
[After THE JUMP: “A lot of joy. It’s the great thrill of victory. The wonderful, wonderful feeling of winning. Jim McKay, right? ‘The thrill of victory’? Yeah. Good feeling.”]
You reap what you sow.
Facing a fourth-and-goal down 20 points in the fourth quarter, Mark Dantonio went the James Franklin route and called for a field goal. The football gods did not look kindly upon this act of cowardice; Michael Geiger missed the 34-yard attempt.
Dantonio almost certainly regretted that decision when the Spartans cut it to a two-score game midway through the fourth. Instead of having a shot at a miracle, they ran out of time—a Donnie Corley touchdown catch with a second remaining on the clock only brought the deficit to seven. To keep up appearances, or something like that, Dantonio called for a two-point conversion.
This also backfired, and in spectacular fashion. Jabrill Peppers capped a game worthy of a Heisman contender by returning an MSU fumble 98 yards for two points. The subsequent onside kick that didn't matter bounced harmlessly out of bounds, and Peppers got one final opportunity to display his athleticism when, perhaps as an homage to Braylon Edwards, he backflipped following the victory-formation kneeldown.
While it wasn't the blowout most expected, it wasn't as close as the final score indicates, either. Michigan absorbed MSU's best shot on the opening drive, a 12-play, 75-yard march featuring 11 LJ Scott touches capped by a five-yard TD run. The Wolverines hit back by going 80 yards in eight plays with Eddie McDoom's 20-yard jet sweep setting up a three-yard Jabrill Peppers keeper to even the score. They gained the upper hand on the ensuing possession when Maurice Hurst slashed into the backfield to force Gerald Holmes into the unforgiving grasp of Peppers on a fourth-and-one.
From that point forward, Michigan was in command. Two De'Veon Smith touchdowns—one featuring a delighful smashing of Riley Bullough at the goal line—and a Kenny Allen field goal were the result of the next three Wolverine possessions, and MSU could only muster a field goal in the interim; Smith's second score gave M a 24-10 lead with 33 seconds left in the half, and it seemed safe to assume that would be the halftime score.
Tyler O'Connor had other plans, which quickly went awry. Instead of running out the clock, O'Connor heaved a pass towards RJ Shelton while under heavy duress from Taco Charlton, and Jourdan Lewis got his hands under it for the pick. Michigan got off four plays in 27 seconds; Amara Darboh, who had a career-high 165 yards in his best game as a Wolverine, drew a pass interference in the end zone to set up a chip shot Allen field goal as the half came to a close. Suddenly, it was a three-score game.
The 27-10 halftime margin would hold for the entire third quarter due to the goal-line heroics of the defense. In an otherwise stellar game, Wilton Speight made a significant error to open the second half, failing to see MSU corner Darian Hicks while targeting Karan Higdon on a wheel route. Hicks cut off the throw for an interception, and within two plays the Spartans had a first-and-goal.
Michigan State ran seven plays inside Michigan's ten-yard line on that possession, getting second life when Peppers was hit with a pass interference flag on third down. On play seven, Lewis crashed down on a fourth-down pitch to Scott and upended him in the backfield, ending the drive with authority.
After Kenny Allen struck a 45-yarder true to begin the fourth quarter, MSU went into desperation mode, inserting Damion Terry at quarterback on the ill-fated field goal drive, then switching to Brian Lewerke after a Michigan punt. The offense couldn't quite put the Spartans away, however, and Lewerke had a chance to make it a one-score game on fourth down with a little under two minutes on the clock.
The defensive line got serious heat on Lewerke, however, and Peppers cleaned up with a crushing sack. Michigan wore down some clock before MSU's desultory final drive while Jon Falk brought the Paul Bunyan trophy back to its rightful place in the Wolverine locker room.
Michigan State has lost six in a row. Michigan is 8-0 with one rival in the clear and three games to get through before a potential Big Ten East title game. While it took one year longer than any of us wanted, the in-state rivalry is, at long last, as it should be.
It was a blowout until it wasn't, and Mark Dantonio couldn't decide whether he was trying to win this game. Pick a lane, Mark, or get run over. Nevertheless, Paul Bunyan's ugly mug returns to Ann Arbor for the first time in a while.
And of course, you can't have one without the other.
New features this week: Bobby spent some time fixing bugs you won’t notice unless they got ya before.
If you are watching on delay, see the settings button next to your three little men? Go there, and change that to however many seconds you need.
The yellow/ orange bar is your mana.
Sending messages costs mana.
Messages cost more, the more active chat is.
The red dudes on the side bar are lives remaining.
If you break the Board Rules, you lose a life. Lose three lives and you have to insert a quarter into your monitor. No no keep trying it, it’ll go in. As always, the Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post is The Law.
Enter the liveblog here: http://kibitz.io/#/michiganstate
(will open in new window. Sorry no embed yet. Tuesday.)
And maybe one day again [the Moms]
By Bryan MacKenzie
Life comes at you fast. Two years ago, Michigan State fans spent the week before the Michigan game humming gleefully in anticipation of the inevitable trouncing. Michigan State was a top-10 with a 6-1 record. Michigan was 3-4 with blowout losses to Notre Dame, Minnesota, and Utah, as well as a loss to Rutgers. Sparty entered as a 17 point favorite, and that felt low. Michigan State ended up winning 35-11, and Michigan fans were somewhat relieved that it hadn't been as DIRECTLY IN THE FACE as we had feared.
Two years later, things have changed more than a little bit. Michigan enters as a 24.5 point favorite in Vegas and an even heavier favorite to the advanced analytics people. In twenty-two months, Jim Harbaugh and Don Brown have built a relentless, remorseless monster. They are outscoring opponents 341-70. They are outgaining opponents 6.37 yards per play to 3.67 yards per play. Meanwhile, Michigan State has spent the last month losing to Indiana, BYU, Northwestern and Maryland.
But let's go back a couple of years for a moment to that 2014 game. During pregame warmups, something thoroughly unimportant happened. Joe Bolden made a one-square-inch hole in the sideline of a football field.
Pictured: blasphemy against the realm
Now, one would think that a gesture so minor (and ultimately foolish and futile) would be quickly forgotten. The key takeaway was that Michigan State was a better football team, top to bottom. They didn't need trickery or shoulder chips or #disrespekt, which is ultimately a stronger message. Man on man, State lined up and thrashed "big brother." Nevertheless, Michigan felt the need to apologize profusely, and Mark Dantonio felt the need to use it as an excuse to run in a late touchdown. This was what Dantonio said afterwards:
You might as well come out and say what you’re really feeling at some point in time, because I can only be diplomatic for so long, The ‘little brother stuff,’ all the disrespect…it didn’t have to go in that direction. We tried to handle ourselves with composure, and that doesn’t come from the coach, it comes from the program.
You know, throwing the stake down in our back yard out here, coming out here like they’re all that it got shoved up their…up their…shoved up…it got shoved the last minute and a half, and we’re not going to pull off of that.
That was the reason. That's what affected his decision-making in a football game: a tent peg. In the field. Before the game.
[These guys went long so hit THE JUMP]