In the State of Michigan, it’s the Big Game. Michigan vs Michigan State the annual intrastate rivalry for bragging rights, the Paul Bunyon Trophy and alumni pride. The 111th meeting of these two schools kicks off at Noon on October 20, 2018. The all-time series record is 69-36-5 in favor of Michigan. But, since Michigan State joined the Big 10 Conference the series record is much closer. The Wolverines lead 36-30-2.
Much to the delight of Spartan Fans, Michigan State has dominated the rivalry in recent years. Winning 8 of the last 10 match-ups since 2008. There are 50 Michigan natives on the Wolverines squad. There are 50 Michigan natives on the Spartans roster. Michigan is ranked 6th in the country with a 6-1 record. Their only loss to 4th ranked Notre Dame. Michigan State defeated 7th ranked Penn State last week to claw their way back into the rankings with a 4-2 record in the 24th spot.
Throw out the records, disregard the statistics, forget about the point spread. It’s Michigan traveling to East Lansing to take on Michigan State. Anything can happen, and it usually does.
Michigan State kicked off and the game settled into a defensive struggle as neither team could sustain a drive. The only noteworthy play, a 10-yard completion from Brian Lewerke to Connor Heyward at mid-field. The catch would make any teams highlight reel.
Weather in the area turned threatening midway through the quarter. A nearby lightning strike sent both teams to the locker room with 5:15 to play in the 1st. An hour and 20-minute delay followed as Michigan State security personnel emptied the stadium. Then reopened the gates and let those who remained back into their seats.
After the rain delay, Michigan used a run-heavy offense to drive deep into Spartan territory. The quarter ended with the Wolverines at the 6-yard line of Michigan State.
Score: Michigan 0, Michigan State 0
On the first play of the 2nd quarter, Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson connected with Nico Collins on a 6-yard touchdown pass. The extra point made it 7-0 Wolverines. After the touchdown, it was back to a defensive give and take battle. Michigan started 2 drives just on their side of the 50-yard line. The Wolverines even started a drive in Spartan territory. The closest Michigan came to scoring was a 36-yard field goal attempt by Quinn Nordin with 1:36 left in the quarter. Nordin shanked it low and left.
Halftime Score: Michigan 7, Michigan State 0
Most notably the Spartans had only 49 yards of total offense in the first half. In addition, they were 0-6 on 3rd down, missed on 10 passes while completing just 3, and held the ball almost 9 minutes less than Michigan.
Michigan State took the 2nd half kickoff and drove the ball into Michigan Territory. The drive stalled and the Spartans were forced to punt on 4th and 21 from the Wolverine 39-yard line.
Michigan’s first possession of the 2nd half started at their own 11-yard line. On third and 12 from their 7-yard line, Chris Evans took the handoff and was stripped of the ball. Michigan State recovered at Michigan’s 7. On 2nd and goal, the Spartans ran a reverse. After handing the ball off, Lewerke drifted into the end zone where Darrell Stewart Jr. found him for the 4-yard touchdown.
Score: Michigan 7, Michigan St 7
After the Spartan kickoff, Michigan went 3 and out. Punting the ball back to State from deep in Wolverine territory. Shakur Brown took the put at his own 36-yard line and returned it to the Michigan State 46. Where he fumbled the ball back to the Wolverines as Joe Hewlett recovered the loose ball.
Michigan drove into Spartan territory to the 25-yard line. But another miscue cost the Wolverines. With the rain returning to create slippery playing conditions Michigan fumbled the ball on an exchange from quarterback Shea Patterson. State recovered ending the threat.
After exchanging punts Michigan hit a big play. A 79-yard touchdown pass from Patterson to Donovan Peoples-Jones put the Wolverines back into the lead. Michigan State responded with a 3 and out. Michigan drove the ball from their own 16 into State territory at the 49 when the quarter ended.
PEOPLES-JONES FOR THE @UMichFootball 79-YARD TD ? pic.twitter.com/4K0DbTUpVv
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 20, 2018
Score: Michigan 14, Michigan State 7
Michigan continued their drive down the field. Scoring on a 5-yard burst up the middle by Ben Mason. The extra point by Nordin gave the Wolverines a 14 point lead with 10:21 left to play.
.@UMichFootball's Ben Mason makin it look easy pic.twitter.com/kdBZpzr2lW
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 20, 2018
Score: Michigan 21, Michigan State 7
Michigan State could do nothing to stem the surge of Michigan’s defense. Three and out again for the Spartans. After punting the ball away Michigan lined up behind their big offensive line and ground out the yards. While eating up the over 6 minutes off the clock.
Michigan State got one more possession with just over 2 minutes to play. They took the ball into Michigan territory. But, the magic ran out with an incomplete pass on 4th and 17.
Final Score: Michigan 21, Michigan State 7
The Paul Bunyon trophy returns to Ann Arbor. At least until next year, when once again the rivalry renews at Michigan Stadium.