Saturday, October 15, 2011
Final: Michigan State 28, Michigan 14
By Brian Bennett
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Instant analysis from Spartan Stadium, where No. 23 Michigan State beat No. 11 Michigan 28-14.
Turning point: Clinging to a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter, Michigan State broke the game open on Isaiah Lewis' interception and 39-yard return for a touchdown with 4:31 left. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson had flirted with turnovers all day, and it finally caught up to him.
Stat of the game: Michigan drove 80 yards for a touchdown on its first possession. From that point on, the Wolverines managed only 170 total yards against the Spartans defense. The Wolverines completed just 12 of their 31 passes on the day, much of that coming late.
Player of the game: Michigan State running back Edwin Baker ran for 172 yards on 24 carries for his first 100-yard day of the season. The Spartans needed to establish a physical ground game, and Baker's effort allowed them to do just that.
Second guessing: Trailing by seven, Michigan faced fourth-and-inches from the 9-yard line and decided to go for a play-action pass. Michigan State cornerback Johnny Adams flew in from the blind side and sacked Robinson for a 10-yard loss, giving the Spartans the ball back with 6:16 left. Should Al Borges have called for a pass on that key fourth down when Robinson is so tough to stop running the ball? Did the Wolverines need to bring Devin Gardner in for so many snaps, or attempt as many passes as they did in a fierce wind? These are questions that will be asked a lot during Michigan's bye week
What it means: Michigan State is now the only team in the Legends Division with an unblemished conference record. That makes the Spartans the front-runner now, though they must host Wisconsin next week and then go to Nebraska. Michigan State has the defense to beat anybody but has to clean up its penalties and other mistakes. Michigan was exposed as overrated at No. 11 in the AP Top 25, though the Wolverines still cannot be counted out of the Legends race. Michigan State was the most physical team they had faced, and their lack of a consistent passing game will hurt against the league's better defenses. Robinson's Heisman campaign is for all intents and purposes extinguished.