Michigan AD happy for reunion with friend ‘Paul’
East Lansing — Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel knows plenty about the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry. He played in it while a football player with the Wolverines.
He was not remotely surprised by the Spartans never quitting against No. 2 Michigan on Saturday. The Wolverines won, 32-23, and are 8-0 overall, 5-0 Big Ten.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Manuel said. “It always is, always will be.
“It feels great. It’s great to win every time we win. I’m proud of coach and the team and the success we had. Everybody played hard. From time long gone to long time in the future that will be the way it is.’
He said the locker room scene with the Paul Bunyan Trophy was quite joyous.
“They were very, very happy,” Manuel said. “They sang ‘The Victors’ and celebrated as they should. Paul (Bunyan) was in there. Good to see him.”
Jabrill Peppers picked up the fumbled two-point conversion on Michigan State’s last play and ran — then sprinted — to the end zone for two points.
He made a sprinter’s lean at the end.
“At first I wasn’t trying to run fast, but then I heard somebody behind me,” Peppers said. “I’m like, ‘OK, stop trying to be pretty, just get the ball in the end zone and put it out of reach.’ I slipped at the end and it messed it all up.”
After Wilton Speight took the final kneel to end the game, Peppers did a backflip.
“I just like flipping,” Peppers said. “Something I always did when I was younger. When I get excited, I flip a little bit.”
Kenny Allen, who handles all kicking duties for the Wolverines, made all three field-goal attempts.
“He was flawless today,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “It was the type of ball game guys were tested in all phases. Offense was tested, our kicking game was tested, our defense was tested. Our guys came through.”
Allen said it was a great feeling to have the Paul Bunyan Trophy again.
“It’s been too long,” he said.
Running back Chris Evans and fullback Khalid Hill played Saturday against MSU. Evans suffered a concussion last week against Illinois and Hill left the game with an undisclosed injury.
Receiver Grant Perry, held out of last week’s game for disciplinary reasons, did not make the trip to East Lansing.
“Wasn’t here today,” Harbaugh said, offering little else. “Wasn’t on the travel team.”
Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers on the victory: “It’s a rivalry game. We knew this was going to be a big game for them, try to ruin our season. They felt they if they beat us, even though they lost some games, their season would still be a success. We wanted to take that from them. When you come into another man’s house, and you beat them and you leave with a trophy, that definitely makes you feel good as a man.”