*Note, I strongly support anti-bullying campaigns. The headline is just in reference to Taylor Lewan's comments earlier in the week.
I was at the game, so this recap isn't going to be as thorough as normal.
But I'll add on to some stats I threw out earlier in the week. U-M now 3-11 against MSU teams that win at least eight games since MSU joined the Big Ten in 1953. If U-M wins eight this year, MSU will be 6-2 in the rivalry since 1953 when both win at least eight. MSU is now 13-15-1 against U-M in East Lansing since joining the Big Ten, 7-4 in the last 11. (Of course, this also shows MSU has had many a poor season). Mark Dantonio is 5-2 against U-M.
In a beatdown like that, there's not a whole lot more to add to the play on the field. Remember when I mentioned in June that MSU should bring back green pants? It looks like they were listening, and it looked great.
Looking back at my three keys for each team.
Run the ball effectively - Jeremy Langford finished with 26 carries for 120 yards, though 40 came on one run at the end of the game. He was at 3.2 yards per carry before it, 4.6 after it. He only had -5 yards on negative runs, so, while he wasn't great, he didn't get tackled behind the line much. R. J. Shelton had 38 yards on two carries (one for 35 yards). Not a great performance against a solid U-M run defense.
Wrap up Devin Gardner - Success. I can only think of two or three times he broke a tackle, and he was quickly taken down afterward. Seven sacks for the defense. He had 11 non-sack carries for three total yards. Michigan's -48 rushing yards (sacks included) is the lowest number in school history.
Field position - It felt like MSU was wasting good field position, but the field position just kept coming thanks to Mike Sadler and the defense. MSU had three straight drives start at midfield and got just three points out of it. Michigan had one drive start past its 40-yard line (the interception) and five inside its own 20.
Turnovers - U-M was down 10 when it picked off a bad Connor Cook throw and returned it into MSU territory. But after that play, Gardner rushed for a loss of five and was sacked on consecutive plays. Disaster averted. Then Gardner threw an interception in the red zone trailing by 16, ending any comeback hopes.
Big plays - On the very first play, Gardner looked deep. He didn't see Devin Funchess open deep down the middle with no one within 15 yards of him, instead completing a pass to Jeremy Gallon for 35 yards. That led to a field goal. A 58-yard pass later in the half led to another field goal. Michigan's longest play in the second half was 13 yards
Force MSU into passing downs - MSU faced a number of passing situations on third downs, but Cook was good when he needed to be. MSU went 9-for-18 on third down.
Looking at all sides of the ball for MSU.
This was like Purdue in the sense that Cook was missing so many guys, especially early, but he rebounded to make enough throws. He finished 18-for-33 for 252 yards (7.6 YPA), 1 TD and one INT. Standing in the pocket and delivering a perfect back-foot throw to Bennie Fowler (6 catches, 75 yards) on third down in the fourth quarter led to Cook's rushing TD that all but put the game away.
Starting the game with a cross-field throwback to the fullback for 49 yards was the best thing ever. Josiah Price made up for a bad drop with a catch on a ball that bounced into the air, and Fowler made up for a drop in the end zone (though I hear it was tipped?) with a great TD catch late in the first half. Tony Lippett had five catches for 62 yards, many of the difficult variety, again.
I mentioned the rushing above. MSU generally blocked those first linemen, but U-M linebackers and secondary players did a good job supporting the rush defense.
This offense could actually be quite decent if Cook just hit open guys. It was nice to see Andrew Maxwell take the final kneel.
Also, Travis Jackson is my new favorite player for doing a Daniel Bryan after Cook's touchdown. This is Bryan's "Yes! Yes! Yes!" cheer from the WWE.
These guys are pretty good. Another statement made in the face of questioning its opponents (see: headline). Every aspect of the defense was simply great. Michigan hasn't scored a touchdown against MSU since 2011. MSU hasn't allowed a touchdown in 2013 since Indiana, and the Hoosiers are the only Big Ten team to score in the second half against MSU this season.
Enjoy this as much as you can.
Also, Taylor Lewan did some things that resulted in an ABC highlight package. After all the fuss about Gholston, to do the exact same helmet twist is just.... man. There was a headbutt and a personal foul not included in this GIF (via Guyism)
I mentioned the field position edge above. Mike Sadler averaged 40.8 yards on five punts, with three inside the 20-yard line and another fair caught on the 22-yard line.
Michael Geiger attempted his first-ever game kicks at home and first kicks since the Iowa game, making kicks of 40, 44 and 35 yards. But he did get an extra point blocked on the Cook TD run, keeping it a two-score game in the fourth quarter.
Michigan's point total vs. MSU since 2004: 45, 34, 31, 28, 21, 20, 17, 14, 12, 6. U-M won the first four, and MSU has won five of the last six. This is the first time ever MSU has won three straight against U-M at Spartan Stadium, and they get to go for four next year.
This was a bigger beatdown than the 2011 game, at least from a defensive standpoint. The late TD from Langford resulted in a final score that was indicative of the play on the field. Simply put, MSU looks like the U-M teams of 10-15 years ago that U-M is still trying to get back to, save for the QB.
Now, MSU can enjoy this win, because they have a bye week before playing at Nebraska. The Huskers defeated Northwestern on a hail mary on Saturday. Had that fallen incomplete, MSU would have had a two-game lead on the rest of the division. As it stands, MSU wants Michigan to defeat Nebraska next week, otherwise, the division is up for grabs when MSU travels to Lincoln. Of course, don't count out Minnesota either, I guess.
Paul's back in East Lansing.
(Via MSU football)