Spartan Stadium was more yellow than usual, and perhaps a little less energized, but on the field, Michigan State was close to the same team it has been since Mark Dantonio arrived in 2007. The Spartans ignored the downplayed expectations of their 2-5 start going into their game against No. 2 Michigan, and they came out firing.
The difference was, Michigan answered.
Using a methodical first drive that saw LJ Scott run the ball 10 times against the Wolverines’ vaunted defense, the Spartans took a 7-0 lead and put a dollop of doubt into the East Lansing air.
It was enough to make an impression, but not enough to give them a lead at the break. After 30 minutes of football, Michigan leads Michigan State, 27-10.
The Wolverines’ offense came out in hostile territory and played up to the task. Responding to Michigan State’s touchdown drive, redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight led an equally impressive one. He helped take Michigan 80 yards in eight plays, culminating with a red-zone package quarterbacked by Jabrill Peppers.
That drive was a preview of things to come. Peppers continued to cycle into the offense throughout the half, finishing with 21 rushing yards and setting up perhaps Michigan’s most spectacular play. In the second quarter, Peppers served as a decoy at quarterback, setting up a long end-around for freshman receiver Eddie McDoom. McDoom broke loose, scrambling for 33 yards to the Michigan State 28-yard line.
After a long pass to senior tight end Jake Butt out of the train formation, senior running back De’Veon Smith punched it in two plays later to put Michigan up, 14-7.
The teams traded field goals on their next two drives — including a 52-yarder from Michigan State kicker Michael Geiger — before Michigan stopped the Spartans to set up its final touchdown drive of the half.
Starting with great field position at the Michigan State 48-yard line, Michigan got into the end zone after 10 plays — including a converted fourth down — behind another Smith touchdown. He finished the half with 35 yards and two scores.
As impenetrable as Michigan’s defense has looked at times this year, the Spartans didn’t get shy. Out of 33 offensive plays, the Spartans ran the ball 23 times —14 of those from Scott — and racked up 114 yards on the ground. They finished the half with 148 total yards.
The only major mistake they made — aside from not giving Scott the ball even more — was an interception with less than a minute to play. Speight used a couple of intermediate passes to work Michigan into field goal range, where Allen tacked on another to make it 27-10.