Michigan State gets to keep the Paul Bunyan trophy and bragging rights for another season.
The Spartans (7-1) beat in-state rival Michigan 35-11 on Saturday in a performance that looked like an absent-minded bulldozer slowly rolling over an injured animal. It wasn't particularly fast or flashy, but the end result -- a flattened Wolverine team -- never seemed to be in doubt.
Connor Cook and the country's third best scoring offense didn't dazzle. Cook (12-of-22 for 227 yards) connected with Tony Lippett on a 70-yard scoring play on a day that was otherwise relatively slow. His counterpart, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, threw two interceptions and fumbled once to kill any real chance his team might have had of hanging around.
Michigan drops to 3-5 with the loss and 1-6 against one of its biggest rivals since Lloyd Carr retired seven years ago.
How the game was won: The formula for success in East Lansing didn't change much from Michigan State's win a year ago. The Spartans held Michigan to fewer than 200 total yards of offense. The Wolverines rushing attack produced zero yards in the first half and continued its steady implosion in the game's final 30 minutes. Michigan State's offense wasn't at its best Saturday, but it didn't need to be.
Game ball goes to: Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford had three rushing touchdowns and 195 all-purpose yards. He trudged his way through most of his 33 carries until breaking loose late in the first half. He contributed 48 of the 73 yards on an efficient scoring drive that helped the Spartans close the half with a 14-3 lead. Langford has quietly rushed for at least 100 yards in five straight games.
What it means: Was this the last straw for Brady Hoke’s tenure in Ann Arbor? You could make the argument it’s just adding to a haystack that engulfed the camel long ago. Michigan will have to win its next three to become bowl eligible before the regular-season finale against Ohio State.
Playoff implications: Michigan State remains a contender with a survive-and-advance victory, though it didn’t stack up many style points against the Wolverines. Crazy things can happen in rivalry games, and the Spartans managed to avoid any season-stunting mishaps. Heading into November, they’re still contenders.
Best play: Lippett's ninth touchdown reception of the season delivered a knockout punch to Michigan midway through the third quarter. Cook threw a back-shoulder dart to Lippett, who spun Michigan safety Delano Hill in a circle. One quick stop-and-start move gave the senior receiver a clear path down the sideline. The one-play drive gave the Spartans a 28-3 lead.
What's next: The Spartans get a week off to prepare for the Big Ten’s biggest matchup before the championship game. They host Ohio State on Nov. 8 with first place in the East Division likely on the line. Michigan returns home next weekend to take on an Indiana team that is coming off its bye week.
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Jeremy Langford ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 8 Michigan State trounced rival Michigan again, 35-11 on Saturday.
The Spartans (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten) have won six of their past seven games against the Wolverines, only the second time Michigan State has accomplished that in a series that dates to 1898.
The Wolverines (3-5, 1-3) are in danger of missing the postseason in Brady Hoke's fourth year at the helm, and this game did little to ease Michigan's descent in 2014. The Wolverines were held to zero yards rushing in the first half.
Michigan State has won 14 straight against Big Ten opponents. The Spartans have next weekend off before hosting Ohio State in a rematch of last year's conference championship game.