A lot of people on both sides of this one were thinking it was going to be an upset but two key red zone chances for Michigan State that ended with nothing on the scoreboard ended up being the difference in this 109th meeting of Michigan and Michigan State as the Paul Bunyan Trophy heads back to Ann Arbor with a 32-23 Michigan win.
The game started with Michigan State marching down the field with a heavy rushing attack from LJ Scott as he accounted for 61 of the drives 75 yards, including a 5 yard touchdown run to cap off the drive. Michigan however responded in kind and marched down the field in 8 plays, covering 80 yards in just 3:28. After MSU went for it on 4th and 1 and failed to convert, Michigan didn’t waste any time and drove 62 yards in 5 plays to take the score to 14-7 in the second. Michael Geiger helped cap off the next drive with a season long 52 yard field goal to which Michigan matched after their next drive was stalled out on the MSU 5 yard line.
The momentum really shifted at this point as MSU was forced to punt from their own endzone and Michigan marched down to score what many thought would be the last score of the half to make it 24-10 UM. After Tyler O’Connor forced the ball up and was picked off, Michigan was able to get into field goal range and put in a kick with no time left in the half.
UM received the ball for the second half and was marching down the field when MSU’s Darien Hicks was able to pick off the pass and return it 42 yards to the Michigan 33 yard line, but MSU failed to convert on the goal line, with LJ Scott being stopped 4 times in a row. This proved to be a costly miss for the Spartans. While Michigan was unable to score any more touchdowns they were able to put up another field goal and a late 2 pt conversion return to hold of Michigan Stat and win 32-23.
LJ Scott ended the game with 22 carries for 139 yards and one TD, all three quarterbacks played for MSU, but only combined for 184 total yards. Adding 2 scores and 1 interception.
The story of this game will undoubtedly be the missed opportunities for the Spartans. Twice they turned the ball over on downs in the redzone as well as a missed FG from Gieger. This was slated to be a blow out from UM but Michigan State was able to keep things close while ultimately failing to convert in big down situations.
Michigan moves to 8-0 on the year and faces Maryland next week while MSU drops to 2-6 and will need to win it’s final 4 games of the year (including hosting OSU on 11/19) in order to make a bowl game.
EDIT: We initially had Michigan State losing 30-17, it has been updated to reflect the actual final score.