The No. 7 Michigan State Spartans have won the in-state rivalry against the No. 12 Michigan Wolverines for six of the last seven seasons. New Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was determined to turn things around for the Maize and Blue.
Harbaugh has already shown that the 2015 team is much different than those of the past. The Wolverines showed that they are a very good team in the battle against the Spartans, but a very late mistake from punter Blake O'Neill gave Michigan State a 27-23 victory of Michigan.
O'Neill and the Wolverines decided to punt with a two point lead and 10 seconds left. The snap was bobbled by the Australian born punter, picked up by Jalen Watts-Jackson, and returned for the game-winning touchdown as time expired.
It was all defense until a few minutes in the second quarter, when Michigan struck. Fullback Sione Houma carried the ball into the end zone from two yards out to make it a 7-0 lead for the home team.
Six minutes later, the score was countered by one from LJ Scott. The running back carried the ball for an 11-yard touchdown to tie the game.
The touchdown came right after Joe Bolden, a linebacker for Michigan, was ejected on a very controversial targeting call. Last week, James Ross was ejected for the rest of the win against the Northwestern Wildcats due to a targeting call. He was forced to sit out the first half of the Michigan State game. Bolden will be back for the next game because the ejection occurred in the first half.
Even without Bolden, the team still looked excellent. Kenny Allen nailed a 36-yard field goal to give Michigan a 10-7 lead at halftime.
Six minutes into the third quarter, Houma ran for another touchdown, this time a one-yard carry to make it 17-7 in favor of Michigan.
Hauma finished the game with three carries for 30 yards and two very important touchdowns. De'Veon Smith added 46 yards on 19 carries for the Maize and Blue.
While the touchdown from Scott was an impressive scamper, Connor Cook made an outstanding play with seven minutes left in the third quarter. The outstanding play was a 30-yard touchdown pass to Macgarrett Kings Jr. to make it just a three point deficit for the Spartans.
Michigan added six points on two field goals from Allen - a 21-yard field goal and a 38-yard field goal - to end the third and start the fourth quarter. After the two field goals, Michigan owned a 23-14 lead.
Cook rebounded with a bang as the senior found fullback Trevon Pendleton down field for a 74-yard reception to the one-yard line. Scott easily found the end zone to make it a two point deficit for Michigan State.
Scott only totaled eight carries for 16 yards, but the two touchdowns kept Michigan State in the game and allowed them to eventually have enough points for the win. Gerald Holmes chipped in 33 rushing yards on eight carries.
Neither team turned the ball over for the first 59 minutes and 50 seconds, so it made for an interesting matchup. Cook was the better quarterback, but Michigan played a tad better on defense, which gave them the edge throughout the game.
Cook, an Ohio native, finished the game 18-for-39 with a whopping 328 yards and a touchdown. Cook's last play was an incomplete pass on fourth-and-19 with just under two minutes to play in regulation.
It seemed like it was all over, but the fumbled snap to O'Neill gave the Spartans the victory with a fumble return as time expired. With the win, Michigan State takes home in-state bragging right along with the Paul Bunyan Trophy.
When Cook was on the field, his favorite target was Aaron Burbridge. The senior caught nine passes for 132 yards, but could not find the end zone.
Jake Rudock threw for just 168 yards, but did not turn the ball over. Rudock completed 15-of-25, but showed leadership multiple times. He kept his composure, which settled the Wolverines for the huge game.
When Rudock did not hand the ball to a running back, he found a few receivers. Jehu Chesson led Michigan with four receptions for 58 yards and Amara Darboh caught three passes for 52 yards. Meanwhile, Jabrill Peppers chipped in 35 yards.
Peppers returned three kicks for 81 yards on the night, with a long of 49 yards. The sophomore returned three punts for 48 yards, as well. Meanwhile, O'Neill had a punt that went 80 yards. R.J. Shelton returned two kicks for 50 yards and two punts for four yards for the Spartans. The Michigan State punter, Tyler O'Conner punted four times for 153 yards and a long of 46 yards.
With the loss, Michigan falls to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten on the season after the loss to Michigan State. The Wolverines will take to the road to battle the Minnesota Golden Gophers on October 31 after they come off their bye week.
On the other side of the ball, Michigan State improves to 7-0 and 3-0 in the Big Ten with the crazy win over Michigan. They will host the Indiana Hoosers on October 24 at 3:30 PM ET.