Here are five takeaways from Angelique S. Chengelis following Michigan's 14-10 loss to Michigan State on Saturday.
■ Defense regroups: The defense remains No. 1 for a reason, although the players were miffed they gave up 14 first-half points. After allowing a 50-yard run, the defense did its job, and it wasn’t easy with an offense that had five turnovers. Michigan State was 2-of-14 on third down and shut out the Spartans in the second half. Maurice Hurst had a big game with eight tackles and a team-best 2.5 tackles for loss.
■ Rivalry rift: Michigan and Jim Harbaugh can’t shake the rivalry issues. Harbaugh needed that win against Michigan State in a big way. He is now 1-2 against the Spartans but hasn’t been able to beat them in Michigan Stadium. Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that while Ohio State is a huge rivalry, the Spartans have dominated the series in the last decade and it’s time to move past the “it’s another game” thing. It isn’t. They don’t think so, and the Wolverines shouldn’t think so.
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■ Xs and Os jumbled: Play-calling was an issue again. It has been this season, particularly in the red zone. But this, this was hard to understand in a torrential downpour. Red-zone play-calling aside, throwing in the rain seemed like an absurd idea after one interception. More absurd after a second and ridiculous after a third. The offensive line is not proficient in pass protection in dry weather …
■ O-line concerns: Have been saying this all season and will say it again, yes, there are three new starters on the offensive line, but Michigan is now through five games, beyond the first third of the season and, still, the Wolverines are “working” to find the right starting five. There was spring practice and a camp to figure this out. The right side remains a work in progress which means there will be continued issues — Jon Runyan has come in for Michael Onwenu at right guard this season and against MSU Juwann Bushell-Beatty spelled Nolan Ulizio at right tackle. Shifting offensive line personnel doesn’t bode well for an offense, ever.
■ Unity limits: There is no sense of panic among the players. The offensive players are fully aware they’re not carrying the load or helping matters, but the defensive players are not throwing up their arms, nor are they pointing fingers. Across the board the players keep saying they’re close, they’re close to making everything click on every level. The bottom line — the defensive players know they are the glue and must compensate for what’s lacking on offense, and they’re OK with it. But can they sustain it for seven more games??