Week 9

Michigan 32, Michigan State 23: What Does It All Mean?


Michigan took back the rivalry from Michigan State in a 32-23 win. What does it all mean?


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Michigan 32, Michigan State 23: What Does It All Mean?

Yeah, Michigan State is having big, big problems. Yeah, the run defense is getting shoved around and the passing game is sputtering, but it’s still a rivalry game, and it’s still a bear on Michigan’s back that it had to get rid of. Don’t read too much into how hard it was for the Wolverines to put the game away – Jim Harbaugh got a win over Michigan State.

There were actual positives for Michigan State to build off of. LJ Scott and the running game played with a fire and effectiveness it hadn’t shown all that often this year, with Scott tearing off 139 yards and a score and the team averaging over five yards per pop.

Unfortunately, the issues at quarterback – with all three options getting their shot, and all three getting hurt to varying degrees – and the inconsistency down the field proved costly. The Spartan passing game missed on key throws that were there to change the game around, and now, going into a desperation finishing kick, the hope has to be for Tyler O’Connor to be sharper.

Wilton Speight is taking over the Wolverine offense. The running game and defense will carry Michigan, but Speight’s ability to push the ball deep has been the big difference in key moments. He threw the downfield pass to beat Wisconsin, and against Michigan State, he was able to stretch the field time and again, and even when he missed, he stretched the field and opened things up for everything underneath. Amara Darboh caught eight passes for 165 yards as the Wolverine offense kept chewing up clock.

Michigan keeps on rolling, and now, realistically, all that’s standing in the way of an 11-0 start is a trip to Iowa. The Wolverines won’t lose to Maryland and Indiana, so if they beat the Hawkeyes, that knocks out Penn State from the Big Ten title chase and puts them deep in the mix for the CFP no matter what happens in Columbus.

After its sixth straight loss, now Michigan State has to run the table just to go bowling. The next two weeks should be fine at Illinois and Rutgers, but there’s still Ohio State to deal with before going to Penn State. It’s a young team that’ll be far, far better next year, but anything better than a 4-8 campaign will be considered a win now.