BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Published October 20, 2012
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To open Saturday’s contest between Michigan and Michigan State, the Spartans took the opening kickoff back to their own 43 yard line to start with solid field position. But the Wolverine defense continued its recent strong play and forced a quick three-and-out.
Following the punt, Michigan’s drive started on the 20 yard line, but a late hit by redshirt junior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan pushed the Wolverines back, and Michigan was forced to punt as well.
After Michigan forced another three-and-out, the Wolverines were the first to pick up a first down on a screen pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon. But senior quarterback Denard Robinson didn’t march the offense particularly far down the field, and Michigan was forced to punt again.
Before the quarter was over, the Michigan defense held strong again and forced Michigan State to punt.
In the first minute of the second quarter, Robinson found junior wide receiver Drew Dileo open in the middle of the field for a 22-yard gain, and it finally seemed like the Wolverines were gaining some momentum on the offensive side of the ball.
Four plays later, redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint found a gaping hole on the right side and took it 38 yards inside the Michigan State 10-yard line. The Spartan defensive unit held strong in the red zone, though, and Michigan settled for a field goal for the first points of the game, taking a 3-0 lead.
Michigan State’s offense finally found some legs on its next drive as well. Redshirt junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell launched a 45-yard pass to Bennie Fowler that put the Spartans in Michigan territory. The Wolverines would eventually come up with a stop on third-and-short, and Michigan State also had to settle for a field goal. But Spartan placekicker Dan Conroy missed the 38-yarder wide left, and Michigan retained its lead.
With two minutes left in the first half, Michigan forced another Michigan State punt, and on the first play of the drive, Robinson found Dileo in the middle of the field again, this time good for 35 yards. On the next set of downs, sophomore placekicker Matt Wile delivered a 49-yard field goal, and Michigan took a 6-0 lead before heading to the locker room.
Any momentum that Michigan gained with its halftime lead quickly dissipated once the second half got underway.
After a three-and-out by the offense, the stingy Wolverine defense suddenly became mortal against a Spartan attack that had been punchless all afternoon. Michigan State took to the air, and Maxwell dissected Michigan with ease, quickly moving his offense down the field thanks to several long passes. The quarterback then finished the drive with a flourish, finding a wide-open Paul Lang in the end zone to give the Spartans the 7-6 lead.
Michigan's offense remained inept for most of the rest of the quarter, with Robinson and Toussaint unable to find running room and the former looking hapless through the air. But luckily for the Wolverines, their defense came up big. Fifth-year senior safety Jordan Kovacs picked off a Maxwell overthrow, setting Michigan up with great field position.
The quarter ended with the Wolverines just outside the red zone, threatening to retake the lead.
Fourth Quarter: Robinson opened the final frame by finding freshman tight end Devin Funchess on the right sideline for a first down on the first snap to get inside the 10-yard line.
But the offense stalled there. Four plays later, the Wolverines settled for a 21-yard field goal to take a 9-7 lead.
The Spartans responded poorly and then with razzle-dazzle. They picked up a holding call on the kickoff that resulted in their drive beginning on the Michigan nine-yard line, and after picking up a first down, they went to punt.
Michigan State punter Mike Sadler took the snap and scurried to the right, where he went untouched until he had 26 yards and a first down.
Maxwell and Bell carried the Spartans inside the Michigan red zone with relative ease, thanks in part to a marvelous first-down catch from wide receiver Bennie Fowler.The Spartans earned a first down at the Michigan six-yard line after that catch. Michigan stuffed Bell on a sweep right on third down, forcing the Spartans to kick and take a 10-9 lead with 5:50 remaining in the game.