On Saturday afternoon the Michigan Wolverines suffered their fourth loss to rival Michigan State in four seasons. The Wolverines entered the game 6-0 and ranked 11th in the nation, but they left the game disappointed and sure to be dropping in the rankings.
There were so many aspects of this game that stood out and showed the flaws of this Michigan Wolverines team. The Wolverines got absolutely dominated on defense, and their offensive line couldn't seem to stop the pass rush.
Despite a late-game push, the Wolverines fell short in this one, 28-14, and their senior class went 0-4 against Michigan State for the first time in history.
Michigan struggled greatly with the yards after catch in this game. On more than one occasion, the Wolverines secondary failed to make the first tackle and limit the yards gained on receptions throughout the game.
Even though Michigan State quarterback threw for just 120 yards, the State receivers made something out of nothing on several plays. Two plays that stand out are both of Keshawn Martin's touchdowns in which he received the ball short made a man miss and forced his way past the pylon. The Wolverines must improve their tackling if they expect to continue winning this season.
The Michigan Wolverines entered the game 52nd in the nation in rush defense allowing 134 yards a game on the ground. They had hoped to avenge a loss from a year ago that saw the Wolverines allow Edwin Baker to run for 147 yards leading the Spartans to victory.
Well they better work on the rush defense again this season. Baker returned to face the Wolverines on Saturday and put up 163 yards on the ground this afternoon. His big day included three rushes for over 20 yards exposing all sorts of holes up the middle of the Michigan defense.
The Wolverines failed to stop what they knew was coming in a big rushing game from Edwin Baker and the Spartans.
It is very clear now that Denard Robinson is the Michigan Wolverines offense. Michigan State contained Robinson on Saturday afternoon and even knocked him out of the game not once, but twice. Without an effecting Robinson, the Wolverines put up a dismal 14 points, well below their season average of 28.
Robinson has been averaging 188 yards through the air and 120 yards on the ground per game this season, but was limited to just 120 yards passing and 43 yards running against the Spartans. Without Robinson performing at his highest level, the Wolverines weren't able to make any big plays until their urgency had them throwing down field at the end of the game.
The Michigan Wolverines without an effective Denard Robinson are not a top 15 team.
The Michigan State Spartans could have lost this game on penalties alone. They are lucky that the Wolverines failed to convert on their costly penalties throughout the game. The Spartans had 13 penalties for a total of 124 yards this afternoon.
Some of these penalties allowed the Wolverines to extend offensive drives and gave them fantastic field position, but their failure to capitalize on the Spartans mistakes could have cost themselves the game. The lack of offensive turnaround following these penalties was a big reason why the Wolverines were only able to put 14 points on the board.
Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner took a beating in their date with Michigan State on Saturday. In the second half alone, the Michigan quarterbacks were sacked a combined six times. Coming into the game the Wolverines had allowed just two sacks all season, good enough for first overall. This was just embarrassing for the Wolverines offensive line. The likes of seniors David Molk and Mark Huyge had some of their worst career outings getting beat off the snap several times allowing for open licks to be laid upon Robinson and Gardner.
The lack of protection the offensive line provided their quarterbacks resulted in Denard Robinson getting knocked out of the game not once, but twice with injury and now reports are saying Robinson suffered a torso and head injury in the game, but was removed from the game for precautionary reasons. Precautionary or not, Robinson is hurt and we don't know what he will be like when he returns. The offensive line needs to improve its play before they take on Purdue and they need to protect Robinson if they want to continue winning this season.