Michigan State upsets No. 7 Michigan
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Joe Bachie and the Michigan State defense came to Michigan Stadium with the lofty goal of forcing four turnovers.
The Spartans exceeded that figure and neutralized the Michigan attack to collect another thrilling road victory against their archrival.
Michigan State picked off three passes and recovered two fumbles in a 14-10 upset of No. 7 Michigan on Saturday night at the rain-soaked Big House.
“We talked about turnovers all the time,” said Bachie, a sophomore linebacker. “That’s something Coach D (Mark Dantonio) preaches. You win the turnover margin, you have a very good chance to win the game. Our goal was four coming in and we got five. That was great to see. It played a huge role in this game.”
The last time the teams met here two years ago, Michigan State scored a spectacular last-play touchdown on Jalen Watts-Jackson’s 38-yard fumble return after an aborted Michigan punt. This time, the Spartans relied on their opportunistic defense, including two interceptions by safety David Dowell.
Bachie also had an interception and forced a fumble for the Spartans (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten).
Michigan State has already exceeded its win total from a year ago. The Spartans were 3-9, including a 32-23 home loss to the Wolverines, then endured a tumultous offseason. A sexual assault investigation led to the dismissal of three players.
The Spartans showed a national TV audience their program is not on the decline.
“We gave our blood, sweat and tears from day one in the offseason,” linebacker Chris Frey said. “All of it is coming to fruition and paying off.”
Michigan State scored all of its points in the first half, as Brian Lewerke ran for a touchdown and passed for one.
Lewerke completed 11 of 22 passes for 94 yards. He also gained 61 yards on 15 carries. Madre London rushed for 59 yards on 10 carries and also caught two passes for 19 yards and a score.
The Spartans didn’t gain a first down in the second half until their last series, when they picked up two while trying to run out the clock.
“We talk about this every week. We’re a young team,” Frey said. “We have a lot of guys that have never played in this game before or have played limited snaps in this game. A lot of those guys stepped up and made huge plays tonight.”
Michigan quarterback John O’Korn, starting in place of injured Wilton Speight, threw three second-half interceptions. He completed 16 of 35 passes for 198 yards. Karan Higdon gained 65 yards on 12 carries for the Wolverines (4-1, 1-1).
O’Korn’s Hail Mary pass after the Wolverines reached the Spartans’ 37 fell incomplete on the game’s final play.
It was a crushing blow to the Wolverines’ championship aspirations.
“Our goal is to go out there and win the Big Ten championship. This one does hurt, but we’ve got to get over it by tomorrow,” Michigan linebacker Mike McCray said. “We can’t let this bring our team down for the rest of the season.”
Wolverines offensive lineman Mason Cole echoed those sentiments.
“It’s not over. We’ve got a long season left,” he said. “Come Monday, it’s back to work. This game will be behind us. We’ll learn from it, we’ll grow from it and we’ll move on.”
Khalid Hill’s 1-yard scoring run with 8:09 left in the third pulled Michigan within 14-10. That was the only scoring of the quarter, as rain rolled in and bogged down the action.
O’Korn was picked off on three straight possessions, but the Spartans failed to cash in on any of them.
The Spartans led 14-3 at halftime.
Quinn Nordin’s 30-yard field goal completed Michigan’s first possession. The Spartans took advantage of a turnover later in the quarter to take the lead.
Bachie forced a Ty Isaac fumble and Frey recovered at the Michigan 46. Lewerke scored from 14 yards when he scrambled up the middle and dived into the end zone.
Michigan State drove 83 yards to make it 14-3 midway through the second quarter. A 30-yard pass from Lewerke to Darrell Stewart moved the Spartans into Michigan territory.
A perfectly executed screen pass from Lewerke to London finished it off. Lewerke faked two handoffs before tossing the ball to London, who followed blockers into the end zone on the 16-yard play.
The Wolverines had a 55-yard touchdown pass wiped out by holding penalty on their next possession.
NOTES: The Wolverines now lead the series 69-36-5, but the Spartans have won eight of the last 10 matchups. ... Michigan State has defeated Michigan 11 times when the Wolverines were ranked in the Top 10, but it hadn’t happened since 2001. ... Michigan State heads to Minnesota next Saturday for another night game. Michigan faces Indiana on the road. ... Michigan State has already used 13 true freshmen, the most since Mark Dantonio became head coach in 2007.