Ann Arbor, MI — October 31, 2020
Rivalry games often mean anything can happen. Emotions run high, fan bases are rabid, coaches pull out all the stops to gain the coveted victory over their opponent. Such was the case Saturday afternoon at the “Big House” in Ann Arbor when the Michigan Wolverines hosted the Michigan State Spartans. The only thing missing, the fans.
In front of the nearly empty stadium, due to COVID restrictions, the interstate Big Ten rivals were set to do battle. Michigan was coming off a 49-24 rout of highly regarded Minnesota. While Michigan State was humbled by Rutgers 38-27, the Scarlet Knights came into the game on a 21-game Big Ten losing streak. Michigan was a huge favorite, then again, anything can happen.
Just four minutes into the game, Michigan State had made a statement with their defense delivering a three and out for a net of minus five yards. The Spartan offense scored on a four-play drive capped off by a Jordon Simmons burst of 28 yds to the Michigan 30 yard line. On the next play, Michigan State quarterback Rocky Lombardi connected with Ricky White in the endzone for a 30-yard touchdown pass.
Michigan evened things up on their next possession with a Blake Corum run of 8 yds to finish an 8 play, 60-yard drive with a TD. After exchanging possessions, State scored again on a Rocky Lombardi pass of two-yards to Connor Heyward.
Michigan got a late field goal to draw within 4, 14-10 at the end of the first half.
The Spartans opened the scoring in the second half with a Matt Coghlin 27-yard field goal. Michigan constructed an 11 play, 75-yard march to answer and tie the score once again at 17 all.
Coghlin’s 51-yard field goal with just under 5 minutes to minutes to play in the 3rd quarter seemed to inspire the underdogs into believing they could pull off the win.
Maybe Michigan State was looking past Rutgers last week. Or Michigan relaxed after State looked so bad in their opening game of the season. Whatever the reason, the potential for an upset looked real.
Michigan State shut down the Wolverines on their next two possessions before scoring the decisive touchdown on a 13-yard Lombardi pass to Connor Heyward. With a little over five minutes to play Michigan drove the ball 93-yards in 18 plays to score on a Hassan Haskins 2 yard TD run.
The Spartans, bend but don’t break defense, made the Wolverines use four and a half minutes to score. State ran out the clock to secure their 3rd win against Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh in his 6th season at U of M and gave Michigan State’s new head coach Mel Tucker his first win as a Spartan.
Next week Michigan State travels to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes. Michigan is also on the road against Indiana.
Other Big Ten Scores
With an outbreak of COVID-19 going through the Wisconsin program, their game with Nebraska was canceled.
Maryland 45, Minnesota 44 OT
Michigan State 27, Michigan 24
Purdue 31, Illinois 24
Northwestern 21, Iowa 20
Indiana 37, Rutgers 21
Ohio State 38, Penn State 25
Wisconsin vs Nebraska Cancelled