The Paul Bunyan Trophy is headed back to East Lansing.

Under the bright lights, through a rain storm, in ridiculous wind, Michigan State (4-1, 2-0 BigTen) outlasted No. 7 Michigan (4-1, 1-1 BigTen) 14-10 at the Big House. The Spartans have their defense and special teams to thank as Michigan State forced five turnovers, and punter Jake Hartbarger averaged just under 40 yards per punt on 11 total kicks.

Michigan took the opening kickoff on a 16-play almost seven-minute journey that ended with a field goal. After forcing the first of many 3-and-outs, Michigan running back Ty Issac coughed up the ball (thanks to Spartan linebacker Joe Bachie) to MSU’s Chris Frey at the Michigan 46 yard-line. A couple of runs from running back Gerald Holmes and quarterback Brian Lewerke (11-for-22, 94 yards, 1 touchdown, 15 carries, 61 yards, 1 touchdown) led to a Lewerke run on 2nd-and-13 that ended with a dive into the endzone, 7-3 Michigan State.

After trading punts on the next three possessions, the Spartans began at their own 17 and and used a balanced offense of run and pass to march 83 yards in nine plays, ending with a delayed screen pass to Madre London, who rumbled 16 yards for a 14-3 Michigan State lead.

The defenses stood tall on both sides as the teams traded punts on their next four possessions before Michigan quarterback John O’Korn (16-for-35, 198 yards 3 interceptions) began a Michigan march at their own 37 with 1:20 left in the half. Three plays later he connected with wide receiver Sean McKeon for 36 yards, before Michigan State safety Justin Layne punched the ball free and the Spartans fall on it. 14-3 MSU at the half.

Horrible field position on the Spartans first two possessions of the first half led to punts from their own endzone, the second of which gave Michigan the ball at the MSU 33 yard-line. And after almost 40 minutes of gametime, Michigan finally found the endzone after a pair of 18 and 17 yard pass plays led to a first-and-goal from the half-yardline, 14-10 Michigan State.

And then the rain fell, and it fell hard, and both offenses did absolutely nothing for the final 23 minutes of this ballgame. O’Korn threw three interceptions in three consecutive offensive series, Michigan State could not get a first down. The teams traded defensive stands until Michigan State had a chance to run the clock out thanks to a ridiculous run on a broke play by Lewerke.

Michigan did receive the ball back with 40 second to play, but with no timeouts, they were forced to eventually attempt a Hail Mary which was batted down by Spartan linebacker Joe Bachie with zeroes on the clock.

Michigan State wins 14-10, completing the upset.

In the end, neither offense has much to brag about, Michigan State gained 94 yards in the air, and 158 on the ground, while Michigan passed for 198 but three turnovers, and 102 on the ground. Both defenses should feel very proud of their efforts tonight. Despite losing the turnover battle so badly, this was still a one-score game thanks to Michigan’s top-ranked defense.

However, Michigan State’s defense (ranked #5 coming into the game) had themselves a night. Additionally, head coach Mark Dantonio demonstrated he can still coach with the best of them as his record against Michigan improves to 8-3, and 2-1 against Jim Harbaugh.

With the loss, Michigan will undoubtably drop in the top-25, while Michigan State could crack the top-25.

 

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