Spartans beat U-M, 28-14, for 4th straight win over in-state rival
For the fourth consecutive year, the No. 23 MSU football team defeated No. 11 Michigan on Saturday at Spartan Stadium, 28-14. The MSU (5-1 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) win ties a program record of four-consecutive wins over the Wolverines (6-1, 2-1).
“It was a cleanly-played football game; it was a hard-played football game,” head coach Mark Dantonio said. “There was toughness out there on both sides.”
The Spartans led U-M in total yards, 333-250, and dominated the rushing game — 213 yards in 39 attempts for MSU compared to 82 yards for 36.
Offensively, junior running back Edwin Baker led the way with 26 attempts for 167 yards and one touchdown, while senior wide receiver Keshawn Martin had three rushing attempts for 20 yards and three receptions for 31 yards and two touchdowns.
On the defensive side, MSU recorded seven sacks for a loss of 62 yards — four of which were against U-M quarterback Denard Robinson. The Spartans held Robinson to 165 total yards, compared to his average 308.3.
MSU had 13 total penalties for 124 yards.
The Wolverines opened the first quarter with a touchdown on their first drive. They moved up the field with passes, runs and fake field goals, but it was Robinson — who threw nine-for-24 for 123 yards and one touchdown and rushed 18 times for 42 yards on the day — escaping a potential sack for a 15-yard touchdown run.
MSU responded, scoring on its drive immediately following U-M’s touchdown. The Spartans’ first touchdown came at 5:08 in the first quarter from junior running back Edwin Baker — who accounted for 49 of the 63 yards in MSU’s scoring drive.
“I thought (Baker) ran with a lot of passion, a lot of determination,” offensive coordinator Dan Roushar said. “It was a very, very complete day. I was impressed with the way he was taking it in there.”
After a scoreless second quarter, MSU came out fired up in the second half. On the team’s first drive, the Spartans added a touchdown to break the tie. Cousins threw a complete pass to Martin into the end zone at 11:07 in the third. Junior kicker Dan Conroy’s kick was good, and MSU took a 14-7 lead.
At 6:17 in the third at first-and-10 for the Spartans on MSU’s 20-yard line, Baker took the ball and ran for a first down but fumbled, and it was recovered by the Wolverines. U-M went three-and-out on its possession, as sophomore linebacker Denicos Allen sacked Robinson for a loss of seven yards on the third down.
MSU responded by scoring on its next drive — which was 10 plays for 61 yards. Cousins threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Martin with 25 seconds left in the third to make the score 21-7.
“I thought Cousins played outstanding today,” Dantonio said. “Two big third-down throws for touchdowns (and) numerous third-down throws for first downs to keep drives alive.”
At 9:49 in the fourth, Robinson made a complete pass — on the first play of the drive — to wide receiver Roy Roundtree for a 34-yard touchdown, keeping U-M in the game at 21-14.
On the next play, Martin took control but fumbled the ball, and it was recovered by Michigan at MSU’s 32-yard line. MSU followed through as junior defensive tackle Jerel Worthy and Allen sacked Robinson for a loss of eight yards.
“It’s a great feeling,” Allen said of his sack. “I love hunting quarterbacks down. It’s the best feeling in the world to get a sack.”
As U-M moved up the field, it became a game of inches when the Wolverines were in a 4th-and-1 situation. Junior cornerback Johnny Adams sacked Robinson for a loss of 10 yards to give MSU the ball back.
With 4:40 remaining in the fourth, Allen and sophomore linebacker Max Bullough blitzed up the middle, forcing Robinson to make a bad throw. He was picked off by sophomore safety Isaiah Lewis, who returned it for a 39-yard touchdown at 4:31 for the game’s final score.
“We were ready for it,” Allen said. “We knew what the cadence were, we knew when they were going to snap it, and we just timed it up.”
To defeat U-M four years in a row, Dantonio said it took a lot of work from everyone involved in the program. After the first touchdown, he said the team gained confidence and never gave up.
“It feels complete; I feel very content,” he said. “I feel like it all came to fruition for us. Guys played so hard, and we prepared so hard.”