By GEOFF MEHL, Staff Reporter
The Michigan Wolverines (3-5) were embarrassed on Saturday afternoon, 35-11, by their instate rival the Michigan State Spartans (7-1) in East Lansing.
Midway through the third quarter, Michigan State gave the final blow to put the game out of reach for the Wolverines. After a punt by Michigan, Michigan State started with the ball on its own 30-yard line. On first and 10, MIchigan State quarterback Connor Cook hit wide receiver Tony Lippett on a streak for 70-yards and the easy touchdown. Michigan State took the 28-3 lead and never looked back.
Michigan finished the game with 186 yards of offense. Quarterback, Devin Gardner, led the team in passing with 121 yards and two interceptions. Running back De’Veon Smith led the team rushing with 11 carries for 39 yards and a touchdown.
For the Spartans, Cook did most of the heavy lifting with 227 passing yards and one touchdown. Running back Jeremy Langford also had a big day with 2 carries for 1-yard and two touchdowns. As a team they totaled 446 yards of offense and 22 first downs.
“We’re very disappointed and should be,” said coach Brady Hoke. “It’s a rivalry game and it’s a big ten game…but the other message is, we’re going back to work.”
On the first series of the game Michigan State came out on all cylinders. They drove down the field making it look easy on eight plays for 75-yards in just 3:08. The drive was capped off by a 2-yard touchdown run by Langford. Michigan State takes the lead 7-0 early.
After a lull in the action, the second quarter opened up more scoring. After a fumble by Michigan State tight end Josiah Price, Michigan was set up with great field position at the Michigan State 31-yard line. After four plays of stalling offense for Michigan, kicker Matt Wile hit a 48-yard field goal to narrow the gap, 7-3 Michigan State.
Then on the following drive, Michigan State strengthened their lead going into the half. Like a mirror image of their first drive of the game, the Spartans drove nine plays for 73-yards in just 3:09 for a Langford 1-yard touchdown run. Michigan State entered halftime with a 14-3 lead.
The Wolverines were inept on offense in the first half, totaling just 37 yards and gaining only three first downs. They were also unable to rush the ball with any effectiveness totaling -5 yards at half. Michigan State on the other hand totaled 256-yards of offense and 14 first downs.
In the third quarter, it continued to be all Michigan State. On Michigan’s second drive of the of the half, Gardner threw an interception to Spartan strong safety RJ Williamson that was returned 29-yards for a touchdown. Michigan State pads the lead 21-3.
On the next Spartan drive they got in the end zone again. Cook hit Lippett for a 70-yard touchdown; Spartans extend the lead to 28-3 at the end of the third quarter.
After a slow fourth quarter, Michigan finally got in the end zone for the first time in 13 quarters against the Spartans. The Wolverines capitalized off a Michigan State fumble in their own territory. The Wolverines went 36-yards on six plays when Smith rushed in from 1-yard out. Gardner converted to tight end Jake Butt for the 2-point conversion, Michigan State leads 28-11.
After an unsuccessful onside kick by Michigan, Michigan State took advantage once again. With 28 seconds left, Langford banged in a 5-yard touchdown after a seven play and 48-yard drive. Michigan State would go on to win 35-11.
Hoke was asked about Michigan State scoring a touchdown with under a minute left when the game was already decided.
“We have 11 guys out there and they have 11 guys out there. We’re trying to compete and they’re trying to compete,” Hoke said. “That’s what athletics is and that’s what competition is.”
Next week the Wolverines will host the Indiana Hoosiers for their homecoming game. The game will at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.