The Spartans and Wolverines both rank highly in some key defensive categories.
Neither Michigan nor Michigan State have played as well as they have hoped this season. Both are falling short of expectations, but there's plenty of silver linings for both squads. Taking a look at the NCAA Stats page, you'll find that both the Spartans and the Wolverines rank near the top in several key defensive categories.
In total defense, Michigan State and Michigan occupy the No. 6 and No.7 spots, respectively. The Spartans allow more total yadage than the Wolverines, but they also have had to stay on the field for much longer and actually allow less yardage by average. This is likely due to the fact that the Wolverines have such a strong offense with a propensity to go on long drives.
Michigan, on the other hand, boasts the top passing defense in the nation, with the lowest amount of pass yaradge allowed. This is immediately above teams like LSU, Nebraska and Florida State. Michigan State isn't doing poorly on this list though, as they come in at No. 13.
The two schools are out of the top ten when it comes to scoring defense, but not by much. Michigan State comes in at No. 11, while the Wolverines come in at No. 13 in this particular ranking.