Though the Michigan football team defeated the Michigan State on Saturday, the Wolverines didn’t prove themselves to be as immortal as some fans wished, allowing the Spartans to tack on 13 points in the fourth quarter alone.
Michigan State was able to cut down their 17-point halftime deficit by steadily hacking away at the Wolverines’ defense and holding their offense scoreless in the third quarter.
There was no question which team was more dominant, though, as Michigan collected 436 yards on offense and saw standout performers in both phases of the game.
The Daily broke down the good, the bad and the ugly from the game.
Fifth-year senior wide receiver Amara Darboh caught 39- and 43-yard passes Saturday in addition to six more mid-range receptions. He ended the day with an impressive stat line of eight catches for 165 yards (a career best), while also creating highlight-reel moments. In the third quarter, his one-handed 39-yard catch impressed as he helped move the Wolverines from their own 6-yard line to the 45.
While Darboh helped Michigan move through the air, a combination of freshman wide receiver Eddie McDoom, sophomore running back Karan Higdon and senior running back De’Veon Smith led the Wolverines on the ground, with Smith scoring two of Michigan’s three touchdowns.
Senior kicker Kenny Allen reaffirmed his starting status, going 3-for-3. Two of the kicks were just chip shots, but he impressed with a respectable 45-yard field goal. The Wolverines don’t appear to have a kicking problem anymore, and moving forward into the final four games of the season, they will need his accuracy to stay intact in closer games.
While the defense didn’t have its best game of the season, a few players stood out. Redshirt sophomore Jabrill Peppers had seven tackles and sacked Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke on fourth down late in the game. Redshirt junior linebacker Mike McCray tacked on a sack of his own and also had 2.5 tackles for loss.
Michigan’s rush defense will have to reassess itself after allowing the Spartans to rack up 217 yards on the ground, the second-highest total this season. LJ Scott accounted for more than half of those yards (139) and ran all over the Wolverines in the first quarter. On the opening drive, Scott carried the ball 10 times and rushed five yards for the first touchdown of the game. He made it look easy, and quieted thousands of Michigan fans at Spartan Stadium who were expecting a game in which the Wolverines would never trail.
After playing his best game of the season against Illinois, throwing 16-for-23 for 253 yards and two touchdowns, redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight hiccuped against Michigan State.
On the first drive of the second half, cornerback Darian Hicks picked off Speight at the Spartans’ 25-yard line and returned it all of the way to Michigan’s 33. It was Speight’s third interception of the season, but it was just one blemish on an otherwise successful day in which he finished 16-for-25 for 244 yards.
Michigan’s defense had a near-meltdown in the fourth quarter, allowing Michigan State to come within seven points after leading by 17 at halftime. Lewerke threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Monty Madaris, who was in the right corner of the end zone. Seven minutes later, after Michigan failed to convert on offense, Spartan wide receiver Donnie Corley tacked on another touchdown with just seconds left in the game.
Though there was only one second left on the clock, Michigan fans are no stranger to game-changing, final-second plays. Michigan State decided to attempt a two-point conversion, though, and fumbled the ball. Peppers scooped it up and took it to the house to tack on another two points for the Wolverines instead.