Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Michigan State may have to embrace Rocky (Lombardi) mentality without QB Brian Lewerke

1 Comment

It is expected Michigan State will play without starting quarterback Brian Lewerke this weekend against Purdue. A week of leaving his status up in the air has apparently taken a turn for the worse as the Spartans prepare to take on the Boilermakers in Big Ten play.

One report from a radio show in Michigan reported Lewerke will not play this weekend due to a shoulder problem that was the reason Lewerke’s status was unknown all week. The shoulder injury popped up a few weeks ago against Penn State and carried over to last week’s game at home against Michigan.

Other reports have classified Lewerke’s status as doubtful, which typically results in a player not playing. Either way, it doesn’t look promising for Lewerke and Michigan State.

If Lewerke is indeed out of action this weekend, the Spartans will give the job to Rocky Lombardi for his first career start. Lombardi has appeared in three games, including last week in relief of Lewerke. He has attempted just two passes with one completion for nine yards.

The Spartans are clearly banged up at this point in the season. Michigan State is already without wide receiver Felton Davis III and a handful of other players. On top of all of those injuries, the Spartans have also reportedly lost backup punter Tyler Hunt to a season-ending injury suffered in practice this week.

This all comes as Michigan State is about to play one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten (a week after playing the hottest team in the Big Ten, Michigan). Purdue has won four straight games, highlighted by last week’s runaway victory over Ohio State. The Boilermakers have scored at least 40 points in each of their last three games, all in conference play.

Michigan State hosts Purdue at noon eastern on Saturday.

No. 6 Michigan too strong for No. 24 Michigan State; Wolverines win first road game vs. ranked opponent since 2006

Getty Images
3 Comments

A week after blowing away Wisconsin, No. 6 Michigan (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) was ready for a defensive showdown against No. 24 Michigan State (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten). Behind a strong performance by the Michigan defense against a battered Michigan State offense, the Wolverines overpowered the Spartans in a lightning-delayed game by a score of 21-7.

Shea Patterson passed for 212 yards and two touchdowns in the win, and Karan Higdon led things on the ground with 137 rushing yards on 31 rushing attempts. A 79-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones down the right sideline in the third quarter gave Michigan a 14-7 lead. It was the only catch of the day for Peoples-Jones, and it could not have come at a better time.

Michigan State was happy to have running back LJ Scott back on the field after the senior running back had missed the last four games, but Scott was unable to have much of an impact as Michigan’s rushing defense was suffocating all afternoon. The Wolverines also made things difficult for Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke, who finished the day completing just 5-of-25 attempts for 66 yards. It did not help that Felton Davis III, who caught the game-winning pass at Penn State last week, went down with a reported torn Achilles in the second quarter. Lewerke was later replaced by Rocky Lombardi. Ironically, perhaps, Lewerke scored the only touchdown of the day for Michigan State by catching a pass on a trick play run by the Spartans that had Lewerke open for a pass from Darrell Stewart Jr. in the end zone.

The win snapped a 17-game losing streak for Michigan against ranked teams on the road that dated back to the final game of the 2006 regular season against Ohio State. Jim Harbaugh had been 0-4 against ranked teams when playing on the road, and this win also evens Harbaugh’s record against Michigan State and head coach Mark Dantonio.

Michigan will now get a well-deserved off week before taking the field again. When they do, they will be at home for a revenge game against Penn State. A win over the Nittany Lions (who lost to Michigan State last week) would firmly trim the Big Ten East race into a two-horse race between the Wolverines and Ohio State, if it isn’t one already. Penn State will be playing a home game against Iowa next week and Michigan State will host Purdue.

Michigan defense allows just 50 yards to Michigan State in first half

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
2 Comments

You wanted defense? You sure have it this afternoon in East Lansing. Michigan leads Michigan State by a score of 7-0 at halftime. The Spartans have put together just 50 yards of total offense in the half against the Wolverines and have failed to convert a third down attempt on their home field.

Shea Patterson‘s touchdown pass to Nico Collins on the first play of the second quarter gave the Wolverines a 7-0 lead. It was the first passing touchdown by a Michigan player against the Spartans since Denard Robinson in 2011, and the first touchdown pass to give Michigan a lead on their in-state rivals since 2010.

The game was paused after about 10 minutes had been played during the first quarter due to lightning in the area. The weather delay lasted about 75 minutes as Michigan continued their drive to score the only touchdown of the half. Michigan had chances to add on to the lead multiple times, but the Wolverines were unable to put points on the board on three straight possessions that started in Michigan State territory. Quinn Nordin missed a 36-yard field goal and the other two possessions ended with punts to pin the Spartans in their end if not for a touchback.

Michigan State has simply not been able to figure anything out against the Michigan defense. The Spartans are 0-for-6 on third down.

Michigan State wide receiver Felton Davis III, who caught the game-winning catch last week at Penn State, was taken off the field sitting on a cart late in the first half.

Over five hours later, Penn State and Michigan State finally reach halftime

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Over five hours later, we have reached halftime in East Lansing between Penn State and Michigan State, with the Nittany Lions and Spartans tied 14-14 at the second break of the game. A nearly three-and-a-half hour weather delay in the middle of the second quarter posed an extra challenge to both teams.

With 7:58 to play in the second quarter, the game had to be sent into a weather delay as lightning strikes moving through the area caused a threat to the safety of the teams and fans in Spartan Stadium. The weather delay was announced as officials were reviewing an incomplete pass from Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke to Trishton Jackson on the sideline. The incomplete pass was upheld. It would be a while until they played third down.

Penn State was looking to get off to a nice quick start to move on from last week’s loss at Ohio State, but an interception thrown by Trace McSorley after missing a couple of throws earlier on the drive brought the game’s opening drive to an end. Unfortunately for the Spartans, Michigan State could not take advantage of the possession despite a promising looking drive that included a 3rd and 11 and 3rd and 19 pass completions to keep the ball moving. But on 4th and 2, Mark Dantonio opted to punt from the Penn State 43-yard line.

Penn State got the offense in gear on their second possession with McSorley dialing in and Saquon Barkley getting a chance to throw out of a direct snap for a 20-yard gain to tight end Mike Gesicki. McSorley then completed back-to-back passes to DeAndre Thompkins and then DaeSean Hamilton for a 31-yard score and a 7-0 lead. Michigan State answered after getting the ball near midfield on the ensuing kickoff, thanks in part to a good return and a late hit penalty on Penn State. Four plays later, Lewerke tied it up with a pass to Darrell Stewart Jr. Not to be outdone, Penn State had their own answer with Mcsorley completing a fourth-down pass to Saeed Blacknall, who then took advantage of horrendous tackling efforts by multiple Michigan State players on his way to the endzone for a go-ahead score.

Michigan State tied the game at 14-14 with a Lewerke touchdown pass to Felton Davis III from 33 yards.