Michigan State Football: Mel Tucker earns first victory in stunning fashion

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Head coach Mel Tucker had his Michigan State football team ready to play Saturday.  The Spartans overwhelmed the Wolverines 27-24.

Entering Saturday’s matchup with the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor, the Michigan State football team had been 21.5 point underdogs.  Throw all of that out of the window in these rivalry matchups.

In his second game as the teams’ head coach, Spartans head coach Mel Tucker became a legend in East Lansing, earning his first win as the team’s head coach.

Anytime Michigan State beats Michigan, it is huge; this one is so much sweeter for Spartans’ fans beating the 13th ranked Wolverines in Tucker’s first kick at the can.  After being embarrassed by Rutgers last week, the Spartans came to play.  That after the Wolverines steam-rolled Minnesota to the tune of 49-24 just a week ago.

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The Spartans took it to a clearly underprepared Michigan Wolverines team all day long.  Quarterback Rocky Lombardi played a near-flawless game completing 17 of 32 passing attempts totaling 323 yards and three touchdowns and protected the football by not turning it over.

It was wide receiver Ricky White who often found himself on the other end of Lombardi’s targets earning eight receptions totaling 196 yards and a touchdown.

Tucker’s offense remained committed to running the football all day long despite the subpar averages.  The consistent run game forced the Wolverine defense to remain honest rather than over-committing to stop the air attack.

Jordon Simmons led the way with 55 yards on 14 carries, followed by Connor Heyward, who compiled 28 yards on 13 totes.  Heyward added a pair of touchdown receptions on two targets.

The Spartans’ defense allowed the Wolverines to collect 452 total yards, along with possessing the football for six more total minutes, but the Spartans averaged an impressive 6.4 yards per play to the Wolverines 5.3.  Also Michigan totaled 86 yards in penalties compared to 65 for Michigan State.  These types of stats become magnified in tight contests and can be the difference in winning and losing.

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It’s a huge accomplishment for Tucker beating the heavily favored Wolverines and on the road in Ann Arbor, adding insult to injury.  The future is bright for this Michigan State football program.