It's been since 1967 that Michigan State has beaten Michigan back-to-back times and they won three times in a row back then so surely this has been a special win. All week, Mark Dantonio and his players had been talking about how much it meant to them to beat their in-state rivals and on Saturday they got their wish.
RECAP: Michigan Offense vs. MSU Defense
This was honestly one of the worst performances I've seen from Michigan offensively since Nick Sheridan and Steven Threet were sharing the start. Michigan only managed to squeak out 28 yards of rushing after sacks, an obvious season low, and Forcier got most of those in the final quarter of regulation.
Michigan was -5 yards rushing going into the third quarter and every attempt to get the ball moving on the ground had been stymied thus far.
As mentioned in my previous article, "MSU has one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten and they [had] to make Michigan play a one-dimensional game, if they hope[d] to keep them from putting up big numbers in both the rushing and passing game."
They did exactly that. They were able to shut down the running game which allowed them to add pressure to the passing game. Forcier was constantly moving around to try to escape the heavy MSU blitz and was forced to take some sacks and even had an intentional grounding called on him for the second time in as many games.
Michigan State did not look like they fielded the same defense they had in weeks one through four and made some impressive stands against a normally dynamic Michigan offense. They forced Michigan into yet another situation that called for some late-game heroics from Forcier, this time it just wasn't enough.
RECAP: MSU Offense vs. Michigan Defense
MSU really was as good as advertised on the offensive side of the ball, putting up 417 yards of total offense, 220 of that being through the air. While not putting up the best numbers on paper, Cousins was able to pick apart the Michigan secondary with relative ease (15/21 for 152 YDs, 0 TDs and 2 INTs) and MSU's rushing attack finally stepped up and put 197 YDs on the ground.
The most surprising factor on Saturday was Cousins' ability to run the ball after his protection broke down, which he was able to do several times and keep drives alive on 3rd-and-long. Without his ability to sustain MSU's long drives (holding the ball for almost two-thirds of the game), Michigan State would have given Michigan more opportunities to get into a rhythm and get their offense moving down the field.
On a personal note
I have to congratulate sparty on beating Michigan two years in a row. There's a lot of bad blood in the State and I know how much beating Michigan means to MSU, even if it pales in comparison to the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry. My only comment on the matter other than that is this:
Dear Mark Dantonio,
If you wish your program to be taken seriously on a conference and national level, try preparing for more than just the Michigan game every year. Who knows, you might win more than a couple games and not lose to the likes of CMU. Your comments leading up to the game have been childish and inappropriate for a head coach to make on the air.
While I wish your team the best of luck if you play in a bowl game this year, I also wish you would have a little class, especially when it comes to this game.
Your players had three dead ball personal fouls to open up their first (real) drive, accentuating the childish and "little brother-ish" way you view this game. Other than the normal trash-talking that is to be expected against any team, not one personal foul was committed by one Michigan player and not once did you see any inappropriate pushing and shoving after plays other than, again, what is to be expected during any game.
Play and coach with some respect and dignity and keep the childish banter limited private phone calls between you and Rich Rod and I'll guarantee you'll see a different attitude coming into the game next year.
Later this week, I'll be previewing Ohio State's matchup with Wisconsin at "The Shoe" in what promises to be a season-defining game as both teams race toward the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth.