Live blog: Michigan takes down MSU in East Lansing
The Spartans fought valiantly to the finish, but in the end, they just didn't have enough offense to make up for Michigan's 27-point first half.
The Wolverines, losers of seven of their last eight to MSU, finally got that monkey off their back with a 32-23 win in East Lansing.
Michigan outgained the Spartans, 438 to 401, but it went conservative in the second half and only put three points on the board.
Wilton Speight got off to a fast start and continued to make impressive throws, especially on third down, but he finished with an underwhelming stat line (16-for-25, 244 yards, INT).
LJ Scott carried the ball 22 times for 139 yards for MSU, but half of those carries came on the opening drive of the game. It was a bit odd that MSU went away from their best weapon for the majority of the rest of the game.
The Spartans played three quarterbacks today, opting to bring in Damion Terry when Tyler O'Connor just wasn't getting it done. Brian Lewerke got the call when Terry went down with an injury, and he led a late touchdown drive to make things interesting, but he ended the day on his backside as Michigan sealed the deal with a sack as MSU got the ball into the red zone.
Amara Darboh made a couple of spectacular plays for Michigan, totaling 165 yards on eight receptions. De'Veon Smith added two touchdown runs, while Jabrill Peppers got one of his own. Kenny Allen had three field goals (23, 23, 45), and that's a good sign for a struggling kicking game going forward.
MSU adds a touchdown with one second left
Michigan went into its prevent defense and that allowed the Spartans to drive down the field and score a meaningless touchdown when Tyler O'Connor found Donnie Corley for a five-yard touchdown with one second on the clock to cut Michigan's lead to 30-23. For some reason, the Spartans went for two, only to have the pitch fumbled and scooped up for two points by Jabrill Peppers to make it 32-23.
Peppers seals the deal with sack
Brian Lewerke scrambled for a big 24-yard gain out to the 39. After a couple of short completions and another run from Lewerke, MSU found itself in business inside the Michigan 20. Facing a fourth and five from the 13, the Wolverine defense came through as Jabrill Peppers sacked Lewerke to seal the deal.
Spartans for a Wolverines punt
The MSU defense was able to force Michigan into a third down situation when it took over at its own 18. With a chance to get the ball back for its offense and really make things interesting, the Spartans left Jehu Chesson wide open near midfield, where Wilton Speight hit his senior receiver for a big first down.
The Spartans were able to force a punt, but now it'll be pinned back at its own 15 with just under four minutes left to play and trailing, 30-17.
Brian Lewerke took over for MSU and made two big throws, one to RJ Shelton on fourth down a 34-yard gain down to the Michigan 20, and one on the very next play, a touchdown strike to Monty Madaris.
The Spartans aren't dead yet. It's 30-17 with 7:31 left to play.
The Wolverines punted...and everything was OK
Michigan went three and out after the missed Spartans field goal and punted the ball to MSU for the first time today. The Spartans will take over at their own 41 with 9:01 left to play.
Geiger misses field goal in questionable move by Dantonio
Well, apparently Mark Dantonio has thrown in the towel on trying to win today. Down 20 in the fourth quarter, Dantonio sent his field goal unit out and Michael Geiger missed a 34-yard kick with 10:43 remaining.
While it would have been a longshot for MSU to score on fourth and goal from 17 yards out, this is the definition of a questionable call.
Damion Terry came in at quarterback for the Spartans to add a different wrinkle to the offense. LJ Scott reeled off a 37-yard run to put him over 100 yards for the day and give MSU possession at the Michigan 23. Terry ran a couple times to get down to the 8, but a mistimed pitch to Scott put the Spartans behind the ball at the 17 on second down. After back-to-back incompletions, Terry took a big hit and was forced from the field on fourth down.
Allen hits 45-yard field goal
Michigan decided to take a chance, and again, it paid off. On fourth and three from the MSU 26, Jim Harbaugh kept his offense on the field, and Darian Hicks was called for pass interference, giving the Wolverines the ball at the MSU 12. After a 15-yard penalty on third down moved the ball back to the 27, Kenny Allen was able to hit a 45-yard field to give the Wolverines a 30-10 lead with 14:42 remaining.
Backed up to its own goal line to start the drive, Wilton Speight went deep to old reliable Amara Darboh, who reeled in another one of his patented one-handed catches, this one coming as he fell to the ground. That one went for 39 yards and gave Darboh 165 on eight receptions today.
MSU stuffed at the goal line
Down 27-10, Mark Dantonio decided to go for it on fourth and goal from the Michigan 2, but LJ Scott got blown up in the backfield by Jourdan Lewis and MSU came away with no points to show for its big interception.
Freshman receiver Donnie Corley got involved on an end around for a 24-yard gain to put the Spartans in business at the Michigan 8. One play after he blew up a run in the backfield, Jabrill Peppers was called for a questionable pass interference in the end zone on third down to give the Spartans a fresh set of downs from the 2.
Hicks picks off Speight
Michigan was rolling into Spartan territory before Darian Hicks intercepted Wilton Speight and returned the ball to the Michigan 33 to give his team a jolt it desperately needed.
Amara Darboh used one hand to reel in a high pass from Speight to convert the first third down of the second half for Michigan. After crossing into MSU territory and being faced with another third down, Speight found Jake Butt and moved the sticks before throwing the interception.
First half stats
Total yards: Michigan 287, MSU 148
Pass yards: Michigan 158, MSU 34
Rush yards: Michigan 129, MSU 114
First downs: Michigan 17, MSU 9
Penalties: Michigan (1 for 15 yards), MSU (6 for 42 yards)
MSU blunder leads to more Michigan points
The Spartans tried to make a play with no timeouts and 33 seconds left in the half, but that proved to be a bad idea as Tyler O'Connor was intercepted by Jourdan Lewis with 27 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Michigan was able to add another field goal to its lead with a second 23-yard Kenny Allen kick.
At the half, it's 27-10.
The Wolverines took over near midfield with two timeouts in their pocket. Wilton Speight completed a pass down to the 40 before hitting Amara Darboh at the 20-yard line with nine seconds left in the half. Michigan used its final timeout before taking a shot to the end zone, drawing a pass interference penalty and setting up the field goal.
Smith's second TD pads Michigan's lead
Facing a fourth and short from the MSU 13, Jim Harbaugh decided to roll the dice with his power running game. That proved to be the right call as the Wolverines lined up three backs in the backfield and Khalid Hill powered forward for a first down. After a holding penalty was called on the Spartans, De'Veon Smith punched it in for his second touchdown of the day to give Michigan a 24-10 lead with 39 seconds left to play in the half.
The Wolverines have scored on all four possessions today and will get the ball to start the second half.
After the Michigan defense force a three-and-out, Jabrill Peppers lined up in the wildcat again and ran it 15 yards down to the Spartan 33. The MSU defense was able to get to third down, but Wilton Speight found Amara Darboh for a first down at the 22.
Allen field goal add to Michigan lead
The Wolverines couldn't convert inside the Spartan 10 and were forced to settle for a 23-yard Kenny Allen field goal that gives Michigan a 17-10 advantage with 6:41 to play in the first half.
To start the drive, Speight stood in the pocket and delivered a first down pass to Amara Darboh while taking a big hit. On the next play, Chris Evans took a handoff for a 10-yard run and Speight followed that up by eluding the rush and finding Darboh 43 yards downfield to the MSU 7.
Geiger hits career long field goal
Michael Geiger drilled a career best 52-yard field goal to pull the Spartans a little closer to Michigan.
It's 14-10 with 9:24 to play in the first half.
After LJ Scott finally got back out on the field for the MSU offense, he was able to take three runs for 47 yards down to the Michigan 28. The Spartans went away from their hot back on the next three plays and a second down sack by Ryan Glasgow put MSU behind the sticks.
Michigan takes the lead
Eddie McDoom took the pitch from Jabrill Peppers on an end around and went 33 yards down to the MSU 28. On the very next play, Wilton Speight found Jake Butt wide open on a play action pass down to the 2. De'Veon Smith punched it in for the score and Michigan now leads, 14-7, with 12:19 to play in the second quarter.
Wolverines defense comes up big
As the second quarter began, Mark Dantonio rolled the dice on a 4th and 1 from the Michigan 38. Gerald Holmes came up short and Michigan takes over with 14:09 to play in the second quarter.
Holmes was in the backfield for the entirety of the drive after LJ Scott gashed the Wolverines to start the game. It's a bit perplexing that Scott wouldn't at least get the call on that fourth down.
An overthrow, a false start penalty and an incompletion is how MSU's second possession started. After a short completion was about to force it to punt back to Michigan, Delano Hill was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that extended the Spartans' drive. Just when it looked like MSU would cross into Michigan territory for the second time today, the Spartans were called for a holding penalty that put them in a second and long situation. After a short completion, Tyler O'Connor found Josiah Price on third down for a big conversion across midfield.
Peppers answers for Michigan
Jabrill Peppers lined up in the wildcat on consecutive plays, handing the ball of to De'Veon Smith once before taking it himself the second time and scoring a touchdown from five yards out to cap an 8-play, 80-yard drive by Michigan.
With 4:30 to play in the first quarter, it's tied, 7-7.
Wilton Speight overthrew Drake Harris on a deep ball on the first play of the drive, but Smith made up for it by reeling off a 20-yard scamper on play number two. After a Ty Isaac run and a Devin Asiasi completion, the Wolverines found themselves in Spartan territory. Eddie McDoom picked up 20 on an end around to put Michigan in the red zone to set up the score.
Scott powers Spartans to opening drive TD
It was the LJ Scott show for the Spartans on the opening drive, giving their sophomore running back 11 touches on 12 plays and capped a 75-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Spartans a 7-0 advantage over their hated rival early on.
Tyler O'Connor got the start for MSU today after missing last week's game at Maryland. LJ Scott carried the ball on the first two plays and netted just two yards, but O'Connor was able to find Scott in the flat to pick up an early and important first down for the Spartans. Scott continued to be the focus, picking up eight yards on first down and smashing into the line for another first down at midfield. After Scott touched the ball on the first six plays from scrimmage, RJ Shelton got down to the Michigan 33 with an end around.
Well, this isn't exactly what we thought we would be getting on the final Saturday in October.
Michigan and Michigan State square off today in East Lansing, and these two team's couldn't be having more polar opposite seasons.
While the Wolverines are ranked second in the nation and looking to build on their 7-0 record, the Spartans come into today's showdown losers of five straight games, hoping a win against their arch rival can somewhat salvage their disappointing season.
Michigan's defense is going to provide an enormous uphill challenge for a sputtering MSU offense. We're still not sure if it will be Tyler O'Connor or Brian Lewerke under center for the Spartans, but it might not matter. The Wolverines come into today's game leading the country in every meaningful defensive category.
While the Spartans defense may be able to slow the Michigan run game, quarterback Wilton Speight still have plenty of weapons to work with on the outside. MSU is going to have to make some plays on defense and special teams to pull off an upset as a 24.5-point underdog.
Kickoff is at noon. Stay right here for live updates from the annual battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy.
HOW TO WATCH: MICHIGAN AT MSU
When: Saturday, noon
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
Radio: WJR 760, WWJ 950, WTKA 1050
Line: Michigan by 24.5
Records: No. 2 Michigan 7-0 (4-0 Big Ten); Michigan State 2-5 (0-4 Big Ten)
Series: Michigan leads 68-35-5
MORE ON THE BIG GAME: