Michigan Football: Winners and Losers from Week 8 Game Against Michigan State
Not five straight.
Oh, never that.
The Michigan Wolverines, after four Paul Bunyan-less years, finally reclaimed the title of best college football team in the state with a 12-10 victory Saturday over the Michigan State Spartans—the same Spartans who hadn't lost to Michigan since 2007.
Not one player on Michigan's roster knew what it was like to topple the Spartans, even star Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson.
"Shoelace" was 0-of-2 entering Saturday's dash; he needed a win to complement a magnificent body of work. Beating the Spartans must have been a great feeling for him, especially after enduring harsh criticism following two prior losses.
Wolverines junior Drew Dileo had a breakout performance, with 92 yards coming from four receptions; his biggest catch, though, was a 35-yarder that set up a later field goal.
Dileo went from utility man to instant campus hero because of his role in the win.
Andrew Maxwell played well enough to guide the Spartans to a fifth consecutive upper hand; he was deliberate during most of his shots down the field and spread the ball around to a receiving corps that was advertised as iffy and fragile but played well above that level—a level it's capable of reaching each week but just doesn't.
Plenty of winners from Saturday's Michigan-Michigan State, including Wolverines coach Brady Hoke and Spartans receiver Aaron Burbridge.
Drew Dileo Wins
Drew Dileo wasn't exactly a wanted man following high school.
But, he showed that Michigan has yet another weapon at receiver, and that can be reliable under pressure.
It seems a different receiver stands out each week—that shows just how athletic the group is. While Denard Robinson provides the offense most of the time, guys like Dileo, Roy Roundtree, the Devins (Gardner and Funchess) and Jeremy Gallon round out a possibly overlooked receiving corps.
Dileo's performance should inspire walk-ons everywhere.
Denard Robinson Was Due for a Win over Sparty
Some guys just deserve certain things.
Denard Robinson was due for change during Saturday's 12-10 win against Michigan State; his in-state foe had a 2-0 series advantage, and Michigan dropped four straight since last winning in 2007.
Robinson didn't burn up the stat sheet, but he was effective with 163 passing yards and 96 rushing yards. Michigan State did a good job nixing Robinson from the game. Considering past numbers, Robinson's production was mediocre Saturday.
The Wolverines knew the Spartans would look to take Robinson out of the game; it wasn't a surprise. Quietly guiding a team to a win likely beats a 250/150-effort in a loss in his book.
Robinson will leave Michigan with a 1-2 record against the Spartans. But, he'll have the satisfaction knowing the he went out a winner over "them" as senior and that his team's 900th program win ended a could-have-been record five-year streak for the Spartans.
Andrew Maxwell Helps His Cause
It's not easy replacing one of a program's career-greats, but Andrew Maxwell was thought to be capable of filling the role vacated by Kirk Cousins.
He's a first-year starter, sure.
But, Maxwell is quite familiar with the way the Spartans offense works—that's why this season has been so baffling about his lack of awareness in some games. The redshirt junior played exceptionally well Saturday against Michigan, considering that it was his first huge Big Ten game...and it was at The Big House.
One-hundred ninety two yards from 21-of-34 passing wasn't a bad way to debut against the Wolverines.
Fitz Toussaint Wins After Losing
Fitzgerald Toussaint has been an interesting athlete to follow this fall.
The former 1,000-yard rusher just hasn't hit his stride yet or reached a consistent level of play—but he appeared closer to form than not Saturday with 52 rushing yards from 10 carries.
Now, that wasn't the 2011 version of Toussaint, but averaging 5.2 yards per carry trumps three per tote. Toussaint nearly had a highlight touchdown during a 38-yard haul but was brought down on the right sideline.
Toussaint needed a good week. His effectiveness has come into question, and he had to prove that he's still the guy for No. 1 job—a poor showing against Michigan State would have all but created a stir.
Being Shut Down Wasn't the Ideal Situation for Le'Veon Bell
Le'Veon Bell has a reputation of being a hard-running bruiser, but the Michigan Wolverines made sure he wouldn't bulldoze his way to the end zone Saturday.
Bell was held under 70 yards for the second time in 2012, gaining just 68 on 28 carries and averaging 2.6 yards per run—the same average from a 17-15 loss to Ohio State in which he had 45 yards rushing.
Why Stop the Bold Play-Calling, Michigan State?
The worst-case scenario would have been a 98-yard touchdown drive in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter by the Michigan Wolverines.
Instead, the Spartans opted not to gamble on 4th-and-goal with the game on the line, settling for a Dan Conroy field goal which put them up 10-9.
However, Michigan State could have called upon Le'Veon Bell to punch in a two-yard touchdown and lift it to a 15-9 advantage. The field goal was conservative, yes—probably the right thing to do in Mark Dantonio's eyes since he was on the road.
A one-point lead should have been enough, considering the way the Spartans defense played. But Michigan took advantage of field position and slid Brendan Gibbons close enough to knock down the game-winning 38-yard field goal.
Take into account the fact that Dantonio chose to run punter Mike Sadler on fourth down instead of kicking. That gutsy play call got Michigan State on the saddle and would have been complemented by another had Dantonio summoned Bell at the goal line.