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Michigan coach commends defense for keeping team in game despite numerous turnovers. Angelique S. Chengelis

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Ann Arbor – Michigan’s defense tried to keep the Wolverines in the game.

But how does any defense — including the Wolverines’, ranked No. 1 heading into the game against in-state rival Michigan State – overcome five turnovers?

Does it happen? Perhaps rarely in an alternate football universe, but even a defense that held the Spartans to 2-of-14 on third down just can’t do everything.

Frankly, the Wolverines were disappointed they couldn’t do more in their 14-10 loss to Michigan State at Michigan Stadium on Saturday night. They held the Spartans scoreless in the second half — Michigan has allowed 14 points in the second half through five games and no points in the fourth quarter. The Spartans finished with 94 passing yards and 158 rushing yards.

“We let up 14 points,” said senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, who had eight tackles and 2.5 for loss. “You don’t want to do that. We should have held them to less. I mean their defense held us to less. That’s something we should have done is beat their defense.”

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Wolverines defensive tackle discusses defeat to in-state rival. Angelique S. Chengelis

Michigan State had four sacks of Michigan quarterback John O’Korn, but MSU’s elusive Brian Lewerke faced pressure but was never sacked by a defense that entered the game leading the country in sacks. And if Hurst believes in beating the other defense, well, MSU also had six tackles for loss, one more than Michigan.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” Hurst said. “Any time you play a rivalry game, you really want to win. We had some things we could have done a lot better. I think we have to learn from this and make some corrections as the season goes on.”

After the Wolverines gave up a 50-yard run by Madre London in the second quarter, they did a good job of containing Michigan State’s offense.

“They were getting the stops and even with the five turnovers,” Harbaugh said. “That was outstanding. Kept us in the ballgame.”

Hurst said getting better as the game wears on is a hallmark of this defense so far this season.

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Wolverines defensive tackle on how team intends to rally together after tough loss to the Spartans. Angelique S. Chengelis

“We’re normally a pretty good second-half defense,” Hurst said. “I think we made our corrections after that long play and we did a pretty good job of holding them for the most part in the second half.”

What the defense didn’t do is force a turnover.

“We didn’t generate any turnovers, and I think that was a big part of our game and what we needed to do to change the outcome of this game,” Hurst said. “We hold ourselves responsible. We want to generate those turnovers and make those big plays. I think we had some opportunities to, and we didn’t follow through. That’s part of the game.”

angelique.chengelis@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/chengelis

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