Tyree Kinnel celebrates during Michigan's win over Michigan State

Remember the third quarter?


Michigan State scored off a trick play, after a turnover, tying a game in which it had been outplayed and it was like every iteration of this rivalry amalgamated into a five-minute span. It felt like you knew exactly how the rest of this thing was going to go, because we had seen this movie before.


When Michigan went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, Khari Willis dropping a surefire interception, it seemed like a prelude. Instead, it was another break in a game full of them, ending in a narrative-changing 21-7 victory.


If some of those breaks go a little differently — if the Spartans come down with a first quarter tipped ball instead of Nico Collins, if they do the same in the third quarter instead of Zach Gentry, if Willis doesn’t drop that pick — this might be a column about how the Wolverines still can’t get over the hump. Those plays have gone Michigan State’s way of late in this rivalry. And being able to win that weird, intangible element — clearing the “everything always goes against us” hurdle — might say more about Michigan than anything else it has done.


“Our team never blinked the entire time,” Jim Harbaugh told reporters. “They played hard, they played smart. From the pregame shenanigans, there was no backing down today by our guys. From then on.”


[After THE JUMP: A column]

Jim Harbaugh is into this rivalry

Things Discussed

  • The pregame incident
  • The trash talking, general chippiness
  • Shea Patterson's touchdown throw to Donovan Peoples-Jones
  • The running game's effectiveness
  • How Michigan turned it around after the third quarter

[After THE JUMP: These two teams don't like each other]

Shea Patterson shushes Michigan State crowd
Good bye, not-since-2006 stat [Bryan Fuller]

On the surface, this game had the calling cards of an all-too-familiar script: missed opportunities, bad weather, field-flipping penalties, drive-killing turnovers, and another honest-to-goodness trash tornado. At some point any Michigan fan watching had to have seen a flag thrown or a ball popped into the air or a hot dog wrapper violently whipped back and forth against a sky that matches the concrete ring around the Spartan Stadium field and felt their stomach drop. And yet the goal posts in East Lansing are still standing, which means they’re going to be shifted for the next year in living rooms and bars and dining room tables across the state.

There is one unassailable fact, one thing completely immune to the shifting of said goal posts, and it’s that Michigan’s defense is really damn good. There has been a great deal of talk this week about ghosts around these parts—that talk carried into the game until about the three-minute mark in the third quarter—but the one who was apparently seeing them today was Brian Lewerke. Michigan State’s offensive line had trouble keeping Michigan’s defensive tackles from pushing through the middle, but the near-constant pressure came from the edges. Chase Winovich, Josh Uche, and Kwity Paye ate the lunch of Michigan State’s tackles; late in the third quarter, Cole Chewins decided to cut block Chase Winovich on 2nd and 10. Winovich was credited with three QB hurries on the day, Paye with one, and Uche with two sacks. My notes show about three times as many instances of QB pressure as the official stats; the presence of near constant mortal danger makes it less surprising that Lewerke was throwing seemingly everything that was targeted moderate or long out of bounds.

[Hit THE JUMP for incredible photos that I tried to put some words with]

busted they ass

Shea Patterson and Jim Harbaugh


Michigan State football

The better team usually wins.

Will Lockwood vs Western Michigan

Power play to the rescue