By JERAMY STOVER, Sports Editor
Not many people pegged it to be a close game and even fewer people picked the home team to win. But when the Michigan Wolverines visited East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans they got what is to be expected in a rivalry game.
Michigan defeated Michigan State 32-23 on Saturday, to continue their undefeated season and conquest for a Big Ten championship.
Michigan State (2-6, 0-5 Big Ten) elected to receive the ball after winning the coin toss and turned it into a smart decision. The Spartans marched 75-yards in just over seven minutes to take an early 7-0 lead. MSU used a three back formation most of the time that caught the Wolverines (8-0, 5-0) off guard.
After the Wolverines tied the game and the first quarter ended at 7-7, Michigan put an impressive drive to take the lead. The five play 62-yard drive was highlighted by a 33-yard run by freshman Eddie McDoom and a 26-yard pass from redshirt sophomore Wilton Speight to senior Jake Butt. Senior De’Veon Smith would find the end zone on a one yard rush.
The two teams would then trade field goals on the next two possessions to make the score 17-10 with Michigan ahead. As the second quarter neared the end the Wolverines found the end zone one more time. On first down from the MSU 11-yard line Speight threw to the end zone looking for sophomore Drake Harris but MSU’s Justin Layne committed a holding penalty that put Michigan on the five yard line. On the next play Smith rushed the five yards left to go to put Michigan up by 14.
As the Wolverines went on offense to start the second half they made their first major mistake of the game. Speight, who hasn’t made many mistakes all season, threw an interception that was returned to the Michigan 33-yard line setting up the Spartans in perfect field position. Michigan State would get all the way down to the two yard line before failing to convert a fourth down attempt and turning the ball over on downs.
Down 30-17 with 27 seconds left, Michigan State drove 75-yards in just 36 seconds to make it a nine point game. The Spartans elected to go for the two point conversion but quarterback Brian Lewerke tried pitching the ball on an option play but the pitch went just short. Sophomore Jabrill Peppers would return the fumble recovery for a touchdown putting the Wolverines up nine.
After the game senior cornerback Jourdan Lewis was happy with the win but admitted it should’ve been a different game.
“The game shouldn’t have been as close as it was. We could’ve done better,” Lewis said.
Peppers after the game said it was a “wake up call” for the defense. Michigan State gained 401 yards against the Wolverines stout defense including 217 rushing yards. The Spartans rushing game averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
Spartans sophomore running back L.J. Scott had his best game of the season rushing for 139 yards on 22 carries and scored a touchdown.
Speight completed 16-of-25 passes for 244 yards. He had the one blemish with his interception but played well enough to lead the Wolverines to victory. His big target on the day was senior Amara Darboh who caught eight passes for 165 yards.
Wolverines Heisman candidate Peppers rushed for 24 yards on five carries with a touchdown and recorded seven tackles, two of which for a loss and one sack on defense.
Michigan will look to continue their success when they host Maryland next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin will be returning to the Big House after leaving Michigan to take the Terrapins head coaching job last off-season.