Michigan Wolverines: Effort not enough to keep Michigan from dropping yet another game to Michigan State


Oct 25, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive end Shilique Calhoun (89) rushes Michigan Wolverines offensive lineman Mason Cole (52 )during the first half of a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines were never really in the game. They played their hearts out, but it was clear from the jump that the Michigan State Spartans were the better team. They were better coached, they executed, and they never let Michigan get close. The Spartans have a better program, and have since Lloyd Carr left Michigan. This is the new way things are in the state of Michigan.

The Game

Michigan State’s first drive was indicative of the way the game would play out for the Michigan defense. The defensive line was disrupting the running game, and occasionally getting to MSU quarterback Connor Cook. Despite the pressure, the Michigan secondary kept getting burned wideouts Tony Lippett and Aaron Burbrdige. The Spartans would go up, a lead they would never relinquish.

Despite Spartans wide recievers getting open consistently, the Michigan defense was stout for most of the game. They forced a lot of Spartan punts, but Michigan’s offense was anemic. Whether it was Devin Gardner missing throws or his wide recievers dropping them, first downs were hard to come by. The running game never got much momentum, with the biggest plays for positive yards rarely more than a few yards.

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It was this that led to the big discrepancy in time of possesion. Michigan State nearly doubled Michigan in the first half, and that was pretty much the story in the second half. Michigan’s defense wasn’t at fault, the offense simply failed to stay on the field.

When Michigan wasn’t struggling offensively, they were turning the ball over. Gardner had a bad fumble that brought Michigan’s already tired defense back onto the field. He also had an interception later in the game, but by that time the game was out of hand.

Michigan finally capatlized late in the game after Frank Clark recovered a Michigan State fumble. Gardner hit Freddy Canteen, who took the ball down to the 1 yard line. De’Veon Smith punched in the ensuing play, and Michigan converted the two point conversion to bring the game within 17.

The game wouldn’t remain that way, as Michigan State punched in another touchdown. Mark Dantonio sent a message, one about how much he wanted to rub salt in the wounds of Michigan. It’s somethign he can do, because Michigan couldn’t do anything to stop it.

Key Points

The biggest takeaway was the positive work from the defense. From a few huge sacks on Connor Cook in the red zone to forcing two fumbles, the defensive line kept working the experienced Michigan State offensive front. It was something that can be built upon for the rest of the season, and the future. Michigan will lose a big part of the line in Frank Clark to graduation, but the rest will return.

The question of who will be coaching the line and the rest of the team is another matter. This game was looked at as a job-saver for Brady Hoke, with many claiming that a couple of rivalry victories would be huge for Hoke’s chances. With Michigan looking less and like it will make it to a bowl game, this is most likely the last game Hoke will coach against the Spartans.

Michigan State outgained Michigan 446 to 186, as Michigan failed to crack 100 yards by the end of the third quarter. The Wolverines could only muster 65 running yards at 2.8 yards a carry. By contrast, the Spartans had 219 yards at 4.8 yards a carry. There were several more discrepancies in stats, but the yards were the only thing one needed to know about the way the game went.

Michigan plays at home next weekend against Indiana.