The No. 6 Michigan Wolverines journeyed to East Lansing in a top ten showdown against No. 8 Michigan State.
The Wolverines ended up losing the contest 37-34 despite having a 30-14 lead in the third quarter. Multiple moments weren’t in the cards for the Maize and Blue, which sealed their chances of cementing a comeback late in the fourth quarter.
There were promising highlights that felt like Michigan had it, such as Andrel Anthony’s 2 TDs and the defense forcing 3 sacks and 2 INTs, but it wasn’t enough to stave off the upset.
For the majority of the first half, despite leaving points off the board by settling for field goals, the Wolverines remained level headed. Starting QB Cade McNamara had a stellar game, ripping off a pass to Andrel Anthony that went for 93 yards at the start of the game. He went for 383 yards and 2 TDs with 1 INT. He looked confident and, to the delight of Michigan fans, knew how to execute some crossing routes. Even after MSU started to mount their comeback, he kept his poise. McNamara proved to be effective in a tough environment against a good Spartan team. It’s promising for the duration of the season to have McNamara at the helm, should he repeat a performance such as this one.
Michigan’s defense shared in a similar fate, thriving in some scenarios, but dropping the ball in others. They were able to get pressure on MSU’s QB Payton Thorne, as he threw for 196 yards and 2 INTs. The main issue seemed to stem from keeping up with the tempo of MSU’s offense and coming up with a solid answer for MSU’s stunning RB. MSU RB Kenneth Walker III made a case for himself for the Heisman, as he rushed for 5 TDs, the most against a Wolverine team in this rivalry’s history. There were some scenarios when Michigan looked like they had an answer by forcing MSU to punt, but in others, Walker III would have Michigan’s defense in his rearview.
It felt like it was only a matter of time that the turning point of the game would be a Michigan mistake. The Wolverines had some incredible plays in the game, but those only gained the title of highlights. In the fourth quarter, freshman QB J.J. McCarthy had a touchdown pass in this one, but the turning point was something much less stellar by him, McCarthy fumbled the ball twice — one luckily luckily bounced out of bounds. McNamara quickly came back in, to set up Michigan for another field goal. After Michigan’s defense forced MSU to punt, McCarthy returned to the game when Cade McNamara was ‘working through something’ on the sideline, according to Jim Harbaugh. McCarthy fumbled the ball once more, but this time it was recovered by Michigan State.
The fumble gave the Spartans excellent field position to set up another scoring opportunity. Shortly after, Walker III ripped off a 23 yard rushing TD and the wheels fell off for the Wolverines.
Whether it was missed reviews or missed calls, there were a lot of issues that Michigan unleashed on themselves that cost them the game. The Maize and Blue had 2 turnovers, tying the most in a game all season. As frustrating and painful as this loss was, Michigan has the opportunity to bounce back. Michigan has looked better than a lot of fans could have predicted at the beginning of the year and that is probably the only consolation. They return to action to take on Indiana next week at home.