Seventh-ranked Michigan looks to keep its perfect record intact when it hosts Michigan State in the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy on Saturday. The Wolverines have won their first four games of the season, including a 28-10 victory against Purdue, but will be without starting quarterback Wilton Speight, who suffered a neck injury against the Boilermakers, and John O’Korn hopes to rise to the occasion by leading Michigan to back-to-back wins against the Spartans for the first time since 2006-07.
“John’s done a fantastic job ever since he got here,” Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters. “He’s acquitted himself very well including coming off the bench and leading our team to a victory against Purdue.” Michigan State bounced back from a disappointing 38-18 home loss to No. 22 Notre Dame by shutting down Iowa 17-10. The Spartans, who held the Hawkeyes to just 231 total yards, are hoping for a repeat performance against Michigan’s struggling offensive line, as they strive for their fifth win in their last six visits to Ann Arbor. “When you play in a rivalry game, it’s just not another football game, it means more,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio told reporters. “My goal when I came here was to make it a rivalry and I think it’s a rivalry so we’ll leave it at that.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Michigan -10.5
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten): Wide receiver Felton Davis was named the Big Ten’s Co-Offensive Player of the Week after hauling in a career-high nine passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Iowa. Brian Lewerke threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns to go along with another 42 on the ground to take his season total to 248 rushing yards, which is second best among Big Ten quarterbacks. Senior running back Gerald Holmes, who has rushed for 1,120 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career, and safety Matt Morrissey were named the team captains for Saturday’s clash.
ABOUT MICHIGAN (4-0, 1-0): O’Korn came off the bench to replace Speight, who will miss “multiple weeks,” according to Harbaugh, and put on an impressive display as he completed 18-of-26 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown in the win against Purdue. Defensive end Chase Winovich continues to terrorize opposing backfields as he registered eight tackles, including 3.5 for loss, and 2.5 sacks against the Boilermakers to give him five sacks on the season, which ranks second nationally. Defensive back Nate Johnson was dismissed from the team on Wednesday after he was charged with domestic violence.
1. Michigan State has won seven of the last nine meetings with Michigan.
2. The Wolverines lead the nation in total defense (203.3 yards) and sacks (4.5) per game.
3. Saturday will mark the first night game in the 110 editions of the rivalry.
PREDICTION: Michigan 27, Michigan State 17