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Wolverines have revenge over MSU on their minds

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan running back De'Veon Smith leaps over Illinois defensive back Stanley Green for a second quarter touchdown.

Ann Arbor – No one has forgotten the ending of last year’s Michigan-Michigan State game. Really, how could you?

The Spartans, who have won seven of the last eight in the rivalry, stunned the college football world when, with 10 seconds left in the game, took Michigan’s fumbled punt and scored to win, 27-23.

Third-ranked Michigan (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) faces Michigan State at Spartan Stadium at noon on Saturday.

“Those last few seconds, we all thought the game was wrapped up,” Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight, the backup last season, said after beating Illinois, 41-8, on Saturday. “I was shocked. I remember that night I went home and was with some teammates and we really didn’t know what to say or what to do, because we were all in shock.

Speight, crushing defense lead Michigan over Illinois

“It’s not like we had this (upcoming) game circled. Coach (Jim Harbaugh) does a good job of making sure the next game is the championship game. This next game is Michigan State so it means a little more since it’s the rival, but it’s just the next game up, the championship game.”

Safety Dymonte Thomas, who had an interception against the Illini, was on the field when the punt was fumbled.

“I couldn’t believe what took place,” Thomas said. “And we had that bye week after, and during the whole bye week it was the only thing I thought about. I couldn’t think about anything else. I just couldn’t wait to get revenge, and the next Saturday we got our chance, our opportunity. I’m excited to go out there and play with these guys. I love the way we’re playing together. It’s going to be fun playing next Saturday, especially since it’s a rivalry game.”

Tailback De’Veon Smith, who had a rushing touchdown against Illinois, does not seem to have shaken how he felt in that game last season.

“All I can say is, really, those last couple seconds are still boiling, like we still taste it in our mouths," Smith said. "We’re going to give Michigan State our all this week.”

While receiver Amara Darboh said he has put that game behind him, he said television replays have been a constant reminder. Undoubtedly that final play will be shown multiple times this week.

“It’s hard to see it,” Darboh said. “But it doesn’t really have the effect it did right when it happened.”

He has moved on, and Michigan wants to extend its perfect record. Michigan State is simply the next team, albeit a rival, on the schedule.

“They’re in the way for the things we want to accomplish,” Darboh said.

Michigan hasn’t beaten Michigan State since 2012. Taco Charlton said the game-winning play last season is no longer “relevant.”

“But going up there next week to East Lansing is definitely to be a ball game we’ve been waiting for,” he said.

While that final play might have them boiling, Saturday’s game is about what the Wolverines are trying to accomplish this season.

“The last play stung last year but now it’s more, ‘You’re standing in the way of what we want to achieve,’” Charlton said. “We know it’s going to be a hard-fought game. We’re going to have to earn it. I feel in a way we’re extra motivated for that game.”

Ultimately, it is a rivalry game, a historically hard-hitting one, and having added motivation doesn’t change things for either team.

“This isn’t a game you have to get up for. This is Michigan-Michigan State,” Speight said. “I personally haven’t experienced a win versus those guys, so we’re hungry for that. This is a big game.”