MSU football cruises to 35-11 victory over U-M at Spartan Stadium
24-point victory over Wolverines largest margin for Spartans since 1967
All week, MSU players and coaches talked about Saturday’s matchup against Michigan as a “personal” game.
Whether it be not being recruited by U-M or the arrogance some Spartans felt coming from the Wolverine sidelines in past meetings, there was extra motivation for a number of Spartans.
That extra motivation piled up on Saturday, leading to yet another Spartan victory over the Wolverines.
No. 8 MSU football used a couple of second half scores and stifling defense to roll past Michigan, 35-11, at Spartan Stadium on Saturday. The win was MSU’s sixth in the last seven matchups against U-M, including the Spartan’s fourth straight victory at home against the maize-and-blue.
“Our guys played extremely focused, I’d say focused is the right way to put that,” head coach Mark Dantonio said. “We wanted to make sure we measured up, wanted to make sure that we understood all week that just because we’ve won in the past that we’re not going to be entitled. That we are going to stay confident, stay grounded in what we were doing and focus on the task at hand, and I thought we were able to do that.”
MSU used exceptional performances on both sides of the ball to dominate Michigan (3-5 overall, 1-3 Big Ten). MSU finished with 446 total yards compared to only 186 for U-M. MSU won the important rushing battle as well, out rushing the Wolverines 219-65.
Senior running back Jeremy Langford led the way for the Spartans offensively, punching in three touchdowns on the ground, including the opening score only 3:08 into the game. Langford finished with 177 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries against U-M’s nationally top ten run defense on Saturday.
Following the game, Langford said MSU didn’t switch anything up in the scheme but simply used game tape to be prepared for what U-M would throw at them this week.
“Against previous teams, they did a great job loading the box and we prepared for that,” Langford said. “The o-linemen prepared for it, coaches prepared for it and I think the offensive line did a great job blocking up front.”
Langford’s second touchdown of the first half came in the final minute to put MSU up 14-3. The touchdown came immediately after U-M cut the Spartan lead to only four points on a 48-yard field goal from senior kicker Matt Wile.
Co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Dave Warner said the touchdown to push MSU’s lead to double digits right before half was key after dominating the tempo for most of the first half.
“It was very important,” Warner said. “Defense did a good job prior to that, went three-and-out I believe and got us the ball back immediately and we had one timeout. So I think we had three minutes left, sort of took our time, tried to get a little bit of clock off and just executed.”
From there, MSU was able to build off the momentum and put up a couple more scores in the fourth quarter to ultimately seal the victory. Junior strong safety RJ Williamson had a 29-yard interception return for a touchdown and junior quarterback Connor Cook connected with senior wide receiver Tony Lippett for a 70-yard touchdown completion.
The one drawback for MSU players was seeing U-M finally get in the endzone in the final minutes of the fourth quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back De’Veon Smith. The touchdown was the first against MSU for the Wolverines since 2011, a streak multiple MSU defensive players were hoping to keep intact this season.
For good measure, MSU added another touchdown in the final seconds to push the lead to 35-11. Langford scored the final MSU touchdown on a three-yard run. Dantonio elected to continue running the ball instead of taking a knee in the final minutes of the game because of a pregame incident involving U-M players.
Dantonio said a U-M player threw a stake-like spear into the ground of Spartan Stadium, which didn’t sit well with the Spartan’s head coach. Dantonio considered the final touchdown was his way of putting the “stake in it.”
With the win, MSU seniors will finish their career 3-1 against U-M with the only loss coming in 2012. Senior linebacker Taiwan Jones considers winning his final game against U-M special and something he’ll always have.
“It means a lot, I can leave here with no regrets,” Jones said. “Thirty years down the line I can say I beat Michigan in my last time playing, I have no regrets.”