Michigan State Vs. Michigan: Spartans Beat Wolverines For 4th Straight Time, 28-14

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Michigan State Vs. Michigan Score: Spartans Beat Wolverines For 4th Straight Time, 28-14

After a shaky first half in which neither team looked sharp offensively, Michigan State asserted itself over Michigan in the second 30 minutes of play and emerged with a 28-14 victory on Saturday.

Denard Robinson came nowhere close to putting on a show at Spartan Stadium as the Spartans’ defense persistently pursued him behind the line of scrimmage. There wasn’t room to run and there wasn’t time to throw as Michigan State defensive lineman, along with blitzing linebackers and defensive backs, were constantly in his face.

Robinson put up his worst numbers of the season. On the ground, he rushed 41 yards on 18 carries. But Michigan’s quarterback truly struggled in the passing game, completing only 9-of-24 passes for 135 yards and one interception.

The interception was a backbreaker too, as Michigan had closed the margin to 21-14 following a 34-yard touchdown pass to Roy Roundtree. But with 4:30 to go in the fourth quarter, safety Isaiah Lewis picked Robinson off and returned the ball 39 yards for a touchdown that all but ended the game.

Prior to that, Michigan State was dominating the game with its running game. The Spartans’ offensive line got a good push off the ball on almost every play, opening up big holes for Edwin Baker to run through. The junior tailback had his best game of the season, rushing 26 times for 167 yards and a touchdown. His numbers would’ve looked even better, if not for a third quarter fumble after a 21-yard run that might have gone on for a touchdown.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins also rebounded from a sloppy second half, hurt by windy conditions and drops by his receivers. He threw two touchdown passes to Keshawn Martin in the second half, with Martin taking short passes and running them into the end zone, reaching just around the pylon as he was being pushed out of bounds.

Both scores essentially bookended the third quarter. The first touchdown went for 10 yards, finishing off Michigan State’s first drive. The second score came toward the end, after MSU’s defense forced a three-and-out.

Unfortunately, an impressive defensive effort for the Spartans might be overshadowed by some late hits and personal fouls late in the game. Particularly troublesome was William Gholston’s late hit on Robinson after the whistle had blown. Gholston didn’t come in late with the hit, but after Robinson had already gotten rid of the ball, the MSU defensive end threw him to the ground while also twisting Robinson’s helmet around.

Some Michigan fans will point to that play, along with other late hits by players like Marcus Rush and Jerel Worthy, and call the Spartans dirty. But two or three players shouldn’t obscure what was an excellent defensive showing. It will be interesting to see if the Michigan State defense can control or rattle Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson like they did with Robinson.

Meanwhile, Michigan is left again with concerns about Robinson’s ability as a passer. After showing promise the past two weeks, Robinson has reverted back into poor mechanics and decision-making in the passing game. But perhaps MSU’s defense deserves the majority of credit for that. How he rebounds against lesser competition will be worth watching.

With the victory, Michigan State becomes the lone undefeated team in the Big Ten’s Legends division. The win over Michigan is also the Spartans’ fourth consecutive victory over their in-state rivals. It’s hard to believe in this rivalry that one Spartans class will have never lost to Michigan. But things have obviously changed in the state over the past four years.

Michigan State hosts No. 4 Wisconsin next Saturday at Spartan Stadium in an 8 p.m. ET kickoff. Michigan plays at home for the first time in three weeks, hosting Purdue.

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Michigan State Vs. Michigan Score: Spartans Assert Themselves, Take 21-7 3rd Quarter Lead

Michigan State has flexed its muscle in the third quarter, continuing its dominance with the offensive line and giving Kirk Cousins excellent protection, as the Spartans scored twice to take a 21-7 lead over Michigan.

Cousins and receiver Keshawn Martin hooked up twice on scoring plays, with Martin taking short passes and running them in, reaching just around the pylon as he was being pushed out of bounds. The first touchdown went for 10 yards, finishing off Michigan State’s first drive of the third quarter. The second score essentially ended the quarter, after the Spartans defense forced a three-and-out with relentless pressure on Denard Robinson.

Michigan State may have had yet another touchdown on their second possession of the third quarter, but was thwarted by a turnover. Edwin Baker broke free for a 21-yard run and may have been on his way to a touchdown with only one defender (who was ready to be blocked) in his path. But Baker looked to have dropped the ball and Michigan recovered.

In perhaps the most important development of the third quarter, the Wolverines couldn’t capitalize on Baker’s fumble. The Spartans got excellent pressure on Robinson, giving him no room to run nor time to pass, ultimately forcing Michigan to punt. Not getting at least a field goal when they were given the ball in Spartans territory was a crucial missed opportunity for the Wolverines. Michigan State got the ball back and scored its second touchdown of the quarter.

Perhaps in an attempt to give Michigan State’s defense a different look, Michigan has played Devin Gardner more since falling behind 21-7. However, it’s difficult to imagine the Wolverines generating much offense against a Spartans defense that looks to be getting stronger. Not with Robinson throwing the ball so poorly, anyway.

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Michigan Vs. Michigan State Score: Spartans And Wolverines Deadlocked 7-7 At Halftime

The wind has helped create some sloppy football in East Lansing, as Michigan State and Michigan are tied 7-7 at halftime.

Maybe the crowd at Spartan Stadium could break into singing some Donovan during the halftime break. Can the MSU marching band play “Catch the Wind” for the fans to sing along to?

For me to love you now,
Would be the sweetest thing, ’twould make me sing,
Ah, but I may as well, try and catch the wind.

Spartans and Wolverines fans surely want to love their team’s effort in the first half, but the offenses are not making it easy. (I’m not sure either school’s special shoe company-mandated uniforms are getting much love, either.) Both sides have to hope for some crisper football when play resumes in the second half.

Penalties were a major problem for Michigan State, with the home team committing eight infractions for 67 yards. Two penalties by defensive tackle Jerel Worthy were particularly troubling, each giving Michigan first downs when the Wolverines’ offense looked to be stalling.

Drops have also been an issue for the Spartans’ offense, killing some good offensive drives and preventing quarterback Kirk Cousins from getting into a rhythm. The senior QB has completed 8-of-13 passes for just 62 yards in the first half. If B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin hold onto to a deep or mid-range throw here or there, Cousins’ numbers look a lot better. And Michigan State would probably have some more points on the board.

Can Denard Robinson blame the wind for his terrible passing numbers in the first half? The conditions probably aren’t helping his long passes, but Robinson has looked bad on several of his throws. The Spartans’ pass rush has contributed to that, hurrying him on a few plays. But Robinson has also regressed to some poor throwing mechanics. In the first half, Michigan’s quarterback is 3-of-11 passing for 39 yards.

The Wolverines have been able to move the ball on the ground, with Robinson rushing for 42 yards on seven carries. Vincent Smith has also provided a nice complement from the tailback position with 33 yards on six rushes. But Michigan State has been able to prevent Robinson from breaking off a signature long run. Will Al Borges call more running plays exclusively for Robinson in the second half? He might have to, whether he wants to or not.

The Spartans seem to have the clear advantage with their running game. Michigan State’s offensive line is overpowering Michigan’s front four thus far, pushing them off the ball and opening big holes for Edwin Baker. The junior running back has 71 yards in the first half on 11 carries. If not for MSU trying to put together a more balanced attack, Baker might have even better numbers.

Given the effect the wind has had on the passing game and the offensive line’s dominance on the line of scrimmage, the Spartans might go to the run far more often in the second half.

Michigan State gets the ball to begin the third quarter.

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Michigan State Vs. Michigan Score: Spartans and Wolverines Tied 7-7 After 1st Quarter

Offense was the story in the first quarter between Michigan State and Michigan, with both teams scoring early touchdowns. The Spartans may be beginning to assert themselves defensively, however.

Michigan got on the board first, scoring on a 15-yard scramble by Denard Robinson. Initially, it looked as if the Michigan State pass rush was about to sack him, but Robinson eluded the pressure and ran to the left side. Plenty of blockers were in front of him and he ran just inside the pylon for a touchdown.

The drive was extended by a fake field goal from Michigan on 4th-and-3 from the MSU 22. Drew Dileo got just enough on a 3-yard run, with the measurement giving the Wolverines the first down by the nose of the football.

The Spartans eventually answered on a strong drive, with the offensive line blowing open huge holes for Edwin Baker to run through. Baker carried five times for 49 yards on the drive, scoring on a one-yard touchdown run.

Kirk Cousins has been victimized by a few costly drops. He hit B.J. Cunningham streaking past Troy Woolfolk down the right sideline, but Cunningham dropped the ball steps from the end zone. Keshawn Martin also dropped a sure first down catch on the Spartans’ next drive after their touchdown. For the game, Cousins is 3-of-6 passing for 16 yards.

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