With the first-ever Michigan-Michigan State night game looming at the Big House, both athletic directors were concerned over fans’ actions off the field. When it came to one of the ADs, they should’ve worried more about their players’ play — and the weather — on the field.
With a torrential downpour weighing heavy on a portion of the last 15 minutes of action, 10-point underdog MSU went into Ann Arbor and stunned their in-state counterparts in a 14-10 win. The loss is the seventh-ranked Wolverines’ first of the season, one that will likely knock them out of the Top 10 when the new rankings are released early Sunday afternoon.
UM turned the ball over a whopping five times — MSU came in having forced just four turnovers, total, the first four games this season — but the Spartans converted those gifts into just seven points. John O’Korn, starting at quarterback in place of the injured Wilton Speight, threw interceptions on back-to-back-to-back possessions late in the third quarter and on into the fourth, but Sparty failed to produce points on any of those turnovers in keeping the game closer than it could’ve been.
Right up to the very end, as it turned out.
The Spartans, which held a 14-3 halftime lead, had zero first downs in the second half until less than three minutes were remaining in the fourth quarter, and then picked up a second, on a crucial third down no less, with under two minutes left that essentially sealed the upset win for MSU in the in-state rivalry game. The key word there is “essentially” as MSU did their damnedest to hand the game back to its rivals, from a holding penalty on their last offensive possession that kept them from, basically, running out the clock to an inexplicable personal foul penalty on their last defensive possession that helped give the Wolverines one shot at a (failed) Hail Mary with no time left.
Even prior to the weather rolling in, it was a defensive battle from start to finish. The Wolverines actually outgained their counterparts 300-252, with the Spartans converting just two of 14 on third-downs. Two scores less than 10 minutes apart, though, proved to be the difference — quarterback Brian Lewerke‘s 14-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, his 16-yard touchdown pass to Madre London in the middle of the second quarter.
While the loss put a dent in Michigan’s College Football Playoff hopes, it did the same for its biggest rival.
Thanks to its Week 2 loss, Ohio State needed, in part, Oklahoma and Michigan to run the table. Not only did the Wolverines lose in Week 6, the Sooners did the same as 30-point home favorites earlier in the day in Norman.
It’s far too early for both UM and OSU to be excluded from the playoff discussion, but the former did neither of the Big Ten East schools any favors with this home loss.
Oh, and there’s this bit of trivia to chew on:
Jim Harbaugh drops to 1-4 against Michigan’s top rivals, Michigan State and Ohio State (0-3 at home) pic.twitter.com/bR4EQlW3Ia
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 8, 2017