A game for the ages. This had all the billing of a game for the ages. Michigan ranked 6th, Michigan St. ranked 8th. Both teams 7-0. 1st place in the B1G Ten East. A spot in the top 4 of the initial CFB Playoff rankings is even a possibility. How many times have we seen the build up for a game of this magnitude end up a dud? Well, in this case, this game was not a dud. This game WAS one for the ages. It was all of that, and then some. This game will go down in the annuls of one of the greatest, if not the greatest games in Michigan-Michigan St. history.
Michigan St started out with the ball, and moved down into Michigan territory. A pick near the end zone stalled the drive, but to many, was just as good as a punt. Michigan took over inside its own five, but Cade McNamara, who played probably his best game of his career, found a streaking Andrei Anthony down the sidelines for a 93 yard touchdown, and it was quickly 7-0 Maize and Blue. Michigan stopped MSU and got the ball back, and had a dropped pass that could have resulted in a 14-0 quickly. A missed opportunity. That would turn out to be one of the storylines for Michigan this year.
As I write this, Detroit is now losing 38-0 in the third quarter to Philadelphia at home. This has 0-17 written all over it. Ok, I digress.
As the 2nd Quarter started, if you have not heard about Kenneth Walker III, well, you know him now. Electrifying runs, ankle breaking type runs. He shredded that vaunted Michigan defense. 2 second half touchdowns quickly erased that 10-0 defecit and Sparty found themselves up 14-13. Michigan would rebound and went up 20-14. A sack of quarterback Payton Thorne, and apparent touchdown on the fumble recovery had given Michigan a 26-14 lead. But, what will be known now in this rivalry as the shin play, gave MSU a break, on an apparent bad call, reversed the fumble and Michigan would give the ball back and make it 23-14.
Resiliency. That is the mantra of Michigan St. head coach Mel Tucker. They don't quit. That was going to be put to the test. Michigan went down and drove in for a touchdown and went up 30-14. It got awful quiet in Spartan Stadium, but resiliency, it proved prophetic. Kenneth Walker, a one yard TD run. Kenneth Walker a 58 yard TD run. Kenneth Walker, a 23 yard TD run. all sandwiched around a Michigan FG gave Michigan State a 37-33 lead. Resiliency. Have I said that yet?
There was no prevent defense involved in this comeback for Michigan State. They torched Michigan on the ground. The Michigan defensive pass rush harassed Thorne all day. But again, two big 4th down conversions got the best of Michigan. And a costly turnover, after Michigan stopped MSU and had the ball on the 48. Putting back up QB J J McCarthy will be second guessed by every armchair quarterback in Michigan and across the country. But take nothing away from MSU, it was more than that. Red Zone offense was the achilles heel for Michigan. Bend but don't break defense was just enough for MSU. Paul Bunyan is staying home.
So now Michigan St. is 5th in coaching poll, 6th in AP Poll. Michigan is still in top 10, with the loss. Michigan St. has all the makings of a playoff team. They still have Penn St. and Ohio St. on their schedule. After watching those two teams play last night, they look beatable. This is not the greatest Buckeye team we have seen in the last decade. Penn State now has three losses. They are out of any conversation for conference titles or a new years bowl game. The end of the year, they could very well cash it in, and Frankin could have USC on his mind. The table is set for Michigan State. Tucker has his Spartans right where they need to be.
Michigan and Jim Harbaugh, well they need to go back to the drawing board. They are not out of it yet, but they need lots of help. This could be a loss that Harbaugh may not recover from as a head coach of Michigan. He needs a win desperately against Ohio St. If they run the table, a New Years Six game is a certainty, but is that enough.
The scene was electric in East Lansing. The pregame was so much fun. Both fanbases brought it. It was a classy showing for both fan bases. It was a great atmosphere, a great game, and great fun. This is college football at its finest. It's going to be tough to top this game. Congrats to Sparty. This could be special!
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