Michigan traveled to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans in this historic clash of undefeated, top 10 teams. With the Big Ten East title, playoff positioning and state bragging rights on the line, this rivalry had even more hype than usual.
This game lived up to the billing of being a hard fought war that found Michigan State victorious, 37-33. The Wolverines were unable to hang on to a 30-14 lead in the second half or contain Spartan running back Kenneth Walker III.
Although the Wolverines again came up short in the rivalry, there were still several players worthy of recognition.
Let’s hand out some game balls.
The true freshman wide receiver registered six catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. The East Lansing native took his first career reception 93 yards in one of the most explosive plays of the season.
Anthony’s second touchdown was reminiscent of former Michigan Wolverine Nico Collins. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy threw Anthony a 50/50 ball that he high-pointed and secured over the Spartan defender. A physical play that has been missing from the wide receiver position this year for the Wolverines.
Michigan has been looking for a receiver to fill the WR1 void after Ronnie Bell went down with a season-ending injury against Western Michigan. While others have had their moments, none have made a statement as emphatically as Anthony did yesterday.
Remember when Erick All struggled with drops? One year later he is leading the team in receptions on the season. All finished this contest with a game-high 10 catches for 98 yards and was McNamara’s favorite target in high pressure moments.
The third-year tight end has earned his keep this year by wreaking havoc as a blocker and has seen involvement in passing game increase with time. While his receiving talent and potential are often discussed in practice circles, he is finally scratching the early heights of his potential.
McNamara played the best game of his career on Saturday going 28-of-44 for 383 yards (career high), two touchdowns and one interception. Throughout the entire game, McNamara was poised and in control of an offense experiencing identity issues.
While the run game was moderately effective, it was McNamara sustaining drives by frequently converting on third and long situations. As mentioned, Anthony and All experienced great success catching the ball, but McNamara was not picky about spreading the wealth.
Nine different players recorded a reception in this game and six different players recorded multiple receptions.
The game-ending interception will haunt him, but does not cheapen McNamara’s career day.
Moody finished the game 4-for-4 on field goals and 7-for-7 if you include the three kicks he made while Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker emptied time-outs in the first half.
Moody continues to be the best Michigan kicker in recent memory and a reliable weapon for this team. While it would be nice to see him less and see the offense finish drives with touchdowns, Moody is a welcomed luxury.