Michigan 32, Michigan State 23 Comment Count

Ace October 29th, 2016 at 4:57 PM

[Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

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.

[Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]

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.



October 29th, 2016 at 5:50 PM ^

With all due respekt, and fully acknowledging that a win is better than that thing that happened last year, I think that folks who are not at least a little concerned about the performance today are being a little Pollyanna-ish. Kind of like when Hoke struggled against one of the worst tOSU teams of the 2000s -- a win did not prove that the rivalry had turned, and there was still a long way to go. Harbaugh is decidedly not Hoke, but I don't think it's unreasonable to be concerned about what today's performance means for Iowa and tOSU this year, and for Moo U in the near future. A throttling would have been a palate cleanser; we didn't get it, and I remain cautious about going full "Return to Glory."

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October 29th, 2016 at 5:56 PM ^

This was a 3 score game until well into the 4 quarter. Had MSU not gotten a completely meaningless TD as time expired, they would have lost by 13. This was UM beating up MSU, a team that played it's best game of the year, at home, with nothing else mattering except beating UM. This isn't close to that game under Hoke, and worrying about a game a year away is silly.


October 29th, 2016 at 6:01 PM ^

Game location is important to keep in mind.  In contrast to 2011 OSU, this was a road game, and games in Spartan Stadium have historically been tough even when MSU has been bad.  We were a second away from walking out with a 2-TD victory.  As it is, it's our largest margin of victory there since 1997.  




October 30th, 2016 at 11:51 AM ^

I think the issue is that we all know we are good . . . but we are greedy this year.  This is a year where we have once-a-decade opportunities.

We are not measurung ourselves against MSU and Colorado.  We freaked out a little over those games - which we won pretty cleanly - because we were thinking to ourselves "We won't beat OSU and Alabama playing like this."

 So our evaluation of every game we play is not based on who we are actually playing . . . it's based on an imaginary OSU or Alabama opponent.

If DJ Durkin calls a successful trick play on us, Urban Meyer just called a successful trick play on us.  If C.J. Beathard runs for a TD on us, Jalen Hurts just ran for a TD on us.

That's just the mindset we are in.  Nobody is really complaining about beating MSU by 2 scores, they are complaining because they are afraid that it means that OSU will beat us by 2 scores.


October 30th, 2016 at 2:07 PM ^

NEVER say "it will be fine."

DON'T compare osu vs Indiana or Northwestern to how they'll play against us!

TRUST ME, that's what they were saying about us throughout the Cooper era.

Complacency is a killer!!!!!!!

I don't worry about Harbaugh getting complacent, I worry about the gut punch we'll feel and the rending that will follow here if we somehow lose to a team we should beat, as they did to us so many times!

That I could not stand!


October 30th, 2016 at 12:39 PM ^

I like how you put this. To further dig my grave, though, I'm also a little concerned that MSU scored those "garbage" points on our starters. It wasn't Lavert Hill getting called for PI, it was Jourdan Lewis. Bad officiating, conservative play calling, I get all that, but still, it leaves a little concern for later in the year, for the reasons you eloquently stated.

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October 30th, 2016 at 2:13 PM ^

To follow up on the point I made just above your most recent comment -

You SHOULD always feel there're things to improve, or areas of vulnerability, until the day we see scarlet tears flowing in that Toilet Bowl down south.

You SHOULD always feel concerned, until they hand that glass football to JH.

That gnawing feeling that it's NOT all fine and done yet is the right feeling!!!!!

Do you think JH or Don Brown woke up this morning and patted each other on the back, feeling there's nothing more we can do to improve?



October 29th, 2016 at 6:12 PM ^

With all due respekt, the people who thought that since Sparty has been struggling this season we were just going to waltz into our first road game against a real opponent, an arch-rival who is putting its entire season into this basket, and win 49-7 were just being Pollyannas this week.

Yeah, I wish Michigan hadn't given up a couple of TDs late. It is troubling that they were able to run on our D. 

But the negative nancys that are infecting the boards right now are acting like we just narrowly escaped Akron or something, instead of enjoying our first road win against MSU in nine years. Ok, there is some stuff to work on.

But get it together, guys. We just beat State.


October 29th, 2016 at 7:16 PM ^

MSU's only wins this season have been against ND and Furman.  Michigan got way closer than it should've to joining the ranks of Furman.

Harbaugh taking the foot off the gas was bizarre.  Anyone who's watched this rivalry long enough can tell you that no lead Michigan held in this game was safe.  Harbaugh gambled with huge games from Peppers and Darboh by letting Sparty hang around -- especially after what happened last year!  Everyone was screaming all month that Sparty would play out of their minds, and if not for Dantonio channeling his inner James Franklin we could've been looking at another last-second debacle finish.  No, you can't advance on an onside kick.  But you can fumble a kickoff return and anyone who even watched last year should be nervous about hearing that!

Thing is, for everyone pooh-poohing the negativity, Sparty's effort was predicted for months yet the conservative playcalling and sloppy play are quantifiable, and preventable.  Peppers keepers, Morris sweep -- this is stuff that had been on tape for weeks.  They also threw a damn screen at Peppers, which Sparty promptly blew up by going at him hell for leather.  What was the upside on that playcall; a Peppers injury?  Meanwhile, the defense got gashed by a one-dimensional offense due to very sloppy tackling.

I'm with others that this win doesn't feel like a monkey off our back so much as foreboding.  Michigan squeaked out a win against a 2-5 team just because the latter were motivated.  Gee, that's all it took?  Imagine what OSU's gonna do, then.


October 29th, 2016 at 7:40 PM ^

Man, and I thought OSU fans were spoiled whining about their team last season when they went 12-1. Michigan fans like you are whining about the team and it's 8-0 for the first time since 2006. We haven't seen a team play this well since 1997, and before that you basically have to go back to the Bo years to see teams this good, and you're acting like we're about to lose three times in November.

Are there some issues? Sure. I wasn't thrilled with the late TDs either. There are some things that bode poorly for future games, but then OSU just lost to a Penn State team we slaughtered and eeked out a win AT HOME against a Northwestern team that has an FCS loss on its record. 

And that's not unique. Every title contender in the country has been pushed like this, and except for maaaaybe Alabama's squeaker against Ole Miss (whose lengthy presence in the top 25 has been a subject of significant mockery on this board) and perhaps Washington each of those pushes has come against a team that had no business being in the game. Lousiville just needed a last-minute comeback to beat lowly Virginia, and we all remember Clemson's narrow escape at home against NC State. OSU has looked mortal two weeks in a row, while the only undefeated team left in the Big 12 has been struggling with... Texas.

If you have completely changed your position on the capability of the coaches and the team, that is a failure of your own expectations. If you have not and you are just griping, then you ought to throttle down the disappointment a bit and accept that while it wasn't a glorious blowout, it was a win and the sky is not falling.


October 29th, 2016 at 7:55 PM ^


I'm with others that this win doesn't feel like a monkey off our back so much as foreboding. Michigan squeaked out a win against a 2-5 team just because the latter were motivated. Gee, that's all it took? Imagine what OSU's gonna do, then.


My post is basically a direct response to this, plus the general sky-is-falling tone of your posts in this thread. I even used the word "bodes," which relates to your use of the word "foreboding," connecting the thoughts there.

BTW we can just scratch the Big 12 from the playoff race at this point. 

You Only Live Twice

October 29th, 2016 at 8:43 PM ^

Why this bothers you, Dragon.   I felt the same way at times.  We fans have to get over our PTSD from previous years and accept that Harbaugh is an excellent game manager.  We fans wanted him to win by 70, he wanted the win and he got it.   He may choose to go conservative and I trust that it's not because he's being dominated.  He played Dantonio like a fisherman playing a fish on the line.  The fish might take off with the bait but it's hooked and eventually will be reeled in.

We got out of EL with no injuries, and we won in a very satisfying manner capped off by a Peppers back flip (I have to find that clip and watch it over and over).  



October 30th, 2016 at 12:40 AM ^

that the sloppy play and poor playcalling in the second half was preventable.  It was uncharacteristic.  That's exactly why this isn't a worrisome game. You can be sure they'll be shelving the Shane Morris package, which like, wtf was that (or knowing Harbaugh, pulling out the greatest counter ever against OSU)? The tackling couldn't get much worse at times, and the defensive playcalling couldn't have been much more vanilla.  

This wasn't foreboding, it was an anomaly in the last 9 minutes of a game in which we were in total control of.  State gained more yards in those nine minutes than they did in the previous 51 and none of them mattered one bit and we played like it.  Forgive the team for losing focus momentarily at a time when they could. 

MGoBlue Eeyore

October 30th, 2016 at 7:07 AM ^

I do think this game feels very different to fans with a final score of 30-17, and that last State touchdown rattled us in a way to bring back memories of last year. I can still remember the Michigan sideline right before that muffed punt, and the celebration that was beginning to ensue. It may not be rational to fear a miraculous State upset yesterday, but it was understandable. Ultimately, Harbaugh has put Michigan in a place to win in this series for two years now, and I'm glad that we got things done in EL yesterday. Here's hoping to a second win over Dantonio next year. Now on to MD.


October 29th, 2016 at 7:50 PM ^

It wasn't a vintage performance.  But to say we "squeaked it out" is silly when we were up 13-20 points the entire second half until literally the last second.  

Also, not to put too much lipstick on the MSU pig, but they are a year removed from the playoff and were a preseason top 10 team.  Now obviously that ranking was way off-target, but this MSU team shouldn't be 2-6.  They're still a somewhat talented team that is seriously underperforming.  They may have circled the wagons for one last stand today, as U-M is traditionally their Super Bowl.  

I Want To Believe

October 30th, 2016 at 3:30 AM ^

We let a team that CAN NOT throw at all run for over 200 yards rushing and almost that much passing. We beat our rival, and that's fantastic. We had a nice lead, but we were much too conservative in the second half, and we got too relaxed at the end and the game became much closer than I wanted it to be.

The one thing I am happy about is the fact that we didn't play our best game of the year in any of the 3 phases. Had we played our best game in all 3 phases we would've blown them out.

I get frustrated bc early they were absolutely the better team and that should've never happened. Also we kept them in the game with dumb mistakes like the Hill personal foul on 3rd and long, and the poor play calling in the red zone.

At the end of the game we made that Lewerke kid look like Aaron Rodgers. Little worried about next year he seems far and away their best QB, and he made some big throws against our secondary. Hopefully his success was mostly in part due to some sort of prevent defense, but his TD pass was thrown as well as you can throw one. I would've expected us to shut that kid down.

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October 30th, 2016 at 12:12 PM ^

We lost 7 out of 8 games to MSU and now the standard is that no Michigan-MSU game should even be competitive?

Michigan State is not going to suddenly become Purdue.  Penn State and Maryland are getting better too.  

Just because we've gotten a lot better does not mean that everyone else is suddenly going to get a lot worse.  There are scholarship limitations that keep that from happening.

The Big Ten East has become fiercely competitive.  It is one of the top Divisions in all of CFB.  Even the top of the Big Ten West looks pretty strong.

The salient point is that we, Michigan, are much better equipped to handle it now than we have been this century . . . not that every other team is going to just melt before our magnificent presence.



October 31st, 2016 at 9:25 AM ^

The game doesn't have me worried about future contests, but I expected a lot easier win then it ended up being. I don't share the same enthusiasum about our defense Saturday as some others do. I thought for the #1 defense we gave up too many yards and points against a team that has struggled against some crappy teams.  We should've been able to get off the field quicker throughout the day and given the offense more chances to score more points.

MSU was able to sustain too many drives and shorten the game and I thought we missed way too many tackles. What doesn't concern me though is we have top flight coaches. I think they will work on what went wrong and clean it up for future games and we will be fine. But the results from Saturday will need to improve to beat OSU in the shoe.

Trader Jack

October 29th, 2016 at 5:03 PM ^

Great work, Ace. Paul Bunyan is back home and MSU fans get to cling to a 9 point loss at home as the highlight of their season. I'll take it. The whole 'you guys won but not as bad as you thought you would!' mentality is why 'Little Brother' was born.

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October 29th, 2016 at 5:04 PM ^

Agree that it wasn't as close as the final score indicated. Disappointed they seemed to do the prevent thing at times, but there are no such things as bad rivalry road wins.

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