Saturday, October 15, 2011
Halftime: Michigan 7, Michigan State 7
By Brian Bennett
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Quick halftime analysis from Spartan Stadium, where No. 11 Michigan and No. 23 Michigan State are tied at 7:
Turning point: Both teams used crisp opening drives to march down the field for touchdowns. Since then, it's been a defensive stalemate. Michigan State has hurt itself with penalties (8 for 67 yards) and dropped passes (including one by defensive back Darqueze Dennard for what should have been an easy interception). Michigan, meanwhile, can't get anything going in the downfield passing game, as Denard Robinson is just 3-for-11 for 39 yards. The swirling winds are a major factor and will continue to be in the second half.
Stat of the half: Michigan State has 100 rushing yards, including 71 on 11 carries from Edwin Baker. The Spartans haven't been able to establish a consistent running game against good defenses all season, so this is a good sign for them going forward. But can they build on it this game?
Best call: Michigan coach Brady Hoke called for a fake field goal on the opening drive. It shouldn't have been a surprise since the winds would have made any kick difficult, and the Wolverines only barely converted the first down. But they went on to score their lone touchdown moments later.
What Michigan State needs to do: Limit the penalties, for one. Get B.J. Cunningham more involved in the passing game, though it's not easy to thow deep in these conditions.
What Michigan needs to do: The Wolverines have been a bit too gimmicky on offense. How about just letting Robinson run and seeing what happens, because the pass isn't working. Of course, Michigan has been a huge second-half team this year, and Robinson often plays much better after halftime. We'll see if that continues.