The better team usually wins.
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]