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Michigan State falls to Michigan, 29-7

Michigan State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Michigan State couldn’t do anything right in the second half as it fell by a final score of 29-7 to archrival Michigan on Saturday night under the lights in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines were able to break a two-game losing streak to the Spartans, and won back the Paul Bunyan Trophy.

This was a lopsided affair by the time the final buzzer sounded, with Michigan out-gaining Michigan State 443 yards to 252. The Spartans did total 215 passing yards to the Wolverines’ 167, but UM rushed for 276 yards to MSU’s 37. Michigan State also totaled seven penalties for 75 yards.

The first half for Michigan State was mostly a what could have been. The Spartans received the ball to start the first half and pieced together the start of a promising drive. Jalen Berger started it off with a seven-yard run, followed by Jayden Reed picking up 17 yards on a reverse. Then, two-straight penalties (including an unsportsmanlike conduct call on left tackle Jarrett Horst) pushed MSU back to second-and-25, which was followed by Payton Thorne being sacked for a four-yard loss. Reed picked up 10 yards to give Bryce Baringer better field position for the punt from MSU’s 40, but then a delay of game penalty pushed it back again.

Michigan took over on its own 30-yard line off Baringer’s punt out of bounds. The Wolverines pieced together a promising drive at first, going 33 yards over seven plays before Michigan State’s Xavier Henderson forced Michigan’s Cornelius Johnson to fumble. The ball was recovered by Dashaun Mallory. Michigan State took over on its own 37-yard line.

However, the Spartans gave the handoff to Elijah Collins on third-and-3 and it seemed like he might have picked up the first down. Instead, the officials marked him a yard short and refused to review the questionable spot. MSU went for it on fourth-and-1 with a confusing play call from the shotgun formation that handed the ball off to Collins again. The officials oddly marked Collins past the marker and the sticks had the ball just barely crossing for the first down. However, this time the officials reviewed the play and determined he only gained half-a-yard and was short of the first down.

Michigan took over on downs at the MSU 46-yard line and worked its way into the red zone. Michigan State’s defense held firm and forced a field goal as Michigan scored first to take a 3-0 lead with just 2:20 left in the first quarter.

Michigan State finally struck home on its next drive. Running a hurry up offense, the Spartans drove 75 yards in six plays and took just 1:57 off the clock for the touchdown. Thorne kicked off the drive with a keeper for 12 yards and later hit Keon Coleman twice, first for 29 yards and then again for the 26-yard touchdown catch. Ben Patton made the PAT and it was 7-3 Michigan State.

Michigan responded in kind on its next drive, marching 80 yards over eight plays and eating 3:25 off the clock. The drive was capped off by a touchdown from J.J. McCarthy to Blake Corum. Though UM started off the drive by committing offsides on the kickoff, a penalty rarely seen.

Michigan State had its own long drive to answer Michigan’s touchdown with, but confusingly bad play-calling at the end of it once again left fans scratching their heads at a lost opportunity. After driving it down to Michigan’s 14-yard line, Collins was given the ball on first down for a three-yard gain. Then Berger was given the ball for three-straight plays. This included a clock-burning handoff on fourth-and-1 from Michigan’s 5-yard line, coming out of a long timeout, that saw Berger tackled for a two-yard loss instead of a field goal attempt, or literally any handful of plays that might have stood a chance at gaining a single yard.

Michigan took over on downs and marched it 86 yards over 15 plays and 6:23, but had to settle for a field goal. Jake Moody hit it from 25-yards out to make it 13-7 with Michigan in the lead. The Spartans had just 1:01 left in the half and essentially just ate the clock on a five play, two-yard drive to head into the locker room.

The third quarter saw Michigan absolutely dominate Michigan State. Michigan opened the half with an 11-play, 57-yard drive for a field goal to extend its lead 16-7. Michigan State responded with a three-and-out that gained just four yards. Michigan marched it 54 yards over nine plays for another field goal to make it 19-7. MSU again responded with a three-and-out that gained just four yards again.

Michigan closed out the third quarter with the ball and finished off the seven-play, 27-yard drive in the opening moments of the fourth quarter with another field goal to extend the lead out to 22-7.

Michigan State had yet another three-and-out and brought out the punting squad to kick it away from its own 29-yard line. However, a high snap went over Baringer’s head. He managed to snag it and prevent a scoop and score, but Michigan tackled him at the MSU 8-yard line. Corum promptly ran it in for a touchdown to extend the lead to 29-7.

On the ensuing offensive possession for Michigan State, the Spartans finally managed a single first down. However, the offense promptly stalled out and got the punt off all right this time.

For the first time in the game (and the only), the Michigan State defense forced the Michigan offense to punt on its next possession. MSU put together a promising drive that actually targeted Coleman again on one play, picking up 51-yards. However, Thorne threw an interception from the Michigan 31-yard line to end the drive. Michigan marched it down 32 yards to kneel it out for the finish and a 29-7 victory.