It was far from a perfect game for the Michigan Wolverines, but they still routed the Michigan State Spartans under the light of the Big House on their way to a dominant win. The biggest difference? A kicker.
Jake Moody, the 2021 Lou Groza Award winner, kicked five field goals through the uprights and was perfect on the night overall. That included a 54-yarder that put the Wolverines up 15 points in the third quarter, a career-high for the fifth-year senior.
The Spartans didn’t have that. They didn’t attempt a field goal in this game and haven’t even attempted one since Week 2. Special teams were a problem for Michigan State all night as its mid-season All-American punter Bryce Barringer leaped to save two balls from going over his head. One he got off, the other he muffed, and Michigan jumped on him inside its own 10-yard line, helping seal this win.
The first half indicated this game wouldn't be easy for Michigan. Michigan State was playing its best game of the season. The Spartans did not allow a sack until the last half snap of the first half, and their passing game was feasting. Much of the credit had to go to Keon Coleman, a 6-foot-4 sophomore who was bullying the Michigan corners. He had 104 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone because he won several 50-50 balls for big yardage.
Despite 189 first-half yards for the Spartans, they only reached the end zone once. That’s in part to two substantial fourth-down stops by the Michigan defense. One came in the red zone midway through the second quarter:
On the offensive end, Michigan was productive with 245 total yards and 13 first downs in the opening period. However, it stalled in the red zone twice and the Spartans' defense forced field goals. Predictability in the red zone has been a problem for Michigan all season, and trends stayed true in the first half of this one. Run-run-pass in all three scenarios where Michigan was inside the 20-yard line in its first three attempts, and State snuffed it out easily.
Thankfully, Blake Corum was doing his thing. He recorded his 14th touchdown of the season on this pop-pass from J.J. McCarthy:
He was up to 78 total yards when the Wolverines went into the locker room with a 13-7 lead at the half.
If there was a way the Spartans were going to stay in this football game, it was because they won 50-50 balls with their receivers, forced turnovers and limited Michigan to three points in the red zone. They were successful in all three areas in the first half, and that’s why they had a shot.
Michigan came out of the break and dominated the third quarter. Through eight games, it has allowed just six points in the third, and that didn’t change tonight. They outgained the Spartans 138-8, but only put two more field goals on the board. It wasn’t pretty on the offensive end, but the Wolverines had what appeared to be a stranglehold on this game.
That was amplified when Barringer did have trouble with the snap in the fourth. Michigan had the ball inside the 10-yard line and finally punched one into the end zone with a Corum rush that put the Wolverines up 29-7.
Corum’s Heisman candidacy grew even stronger tonight with two touchdowns and 171 yards on 31 carries. He became the fastest player in Michigan history to 1,000 yards, achieving that in just eight games. It was also his fifth consecutive game surpassing the 100-yard mark, only Karan Higdon (7) and Mike Hart (8) have longer streaks, and Corum will have a chance to surpass both of those.
Rod Moore capped off this one with an interception with just over four minutes to go. Michigan State had just 63 total yards of offense in the second half, and 51 of that came on one play to Keon Coleman when the game was already decided.
The defense and Jake Moody carried the Wolverines to the win in this one. It wasn’t as satisfying as it could have been, but Jim Harbaugh and Michigan got it done with a 29-7 win over the Spartans. Paul Bunyan is home in Ann Arbor.