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

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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

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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.