Oct. 3, 2009
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State owns a two-game winning streak against Michigan for the first time since 1967.
Freshman Larry Caper ran for a 23-yard touchdown in overtime to give the Spartans a 26-20 victory over the No. 22 Wolverines on Saturday. Michigan State hadn't beaten Michigan twice in a row since winning three straight from 1965-67.
"We did something that hasn't been done in 42 years," coach Mark Dantonio said. "That's amazing. But facts are facts. This game has a way of defining you."
The Spartans (2-3, 1-1 Big Ten) won at Michigan last season for the first time since 1990. It was a bigger party in East Lansing, as players and coaches swarmed Caper in the north end zone after his game-winning run.
The big play was a third-down rush that still would have left Michigan State within field goal range if it hadn't succeeded. But the zone blocking worked out so well Caper scampered all the way to the end zone.
"Honestly, I don't remember the play," Caper said. "But it was a surreal feeling."
Michigan (4-1, 1-1) did not go down easy. The Wolverines had until recently dominated the last four decades of the century-old series. They hold a 67-30-5 all-time edge.
Tate Forcier had two fourth-quarter touchdown passes for Michigan to come from 14 points down and force OT in the Wolverines' first road game of the season. The freshman hit Roy Roundtree for a 9-yard score with 2 seconds left in regulation.
But Forcier was intercepted by Michigan State's Chris L. Rucker off a deflection in the end zone on the first possession of overtime, keeping the Wolverines from scoring.
"Our team doesn't give up," Forcier said. "We're going to keep fighting until the game is over. It showed. We can't win all of them, but our guys kept fighting."
Forcier completed 17 of 32 passes for 223 yards.
Kirk Cousins completed 15 of 21 passes for 152 yards and rushed for 75 yards for Michigan State. He also had two interceptions.
But Cousins was hobbled by an ankle injury late in the game. Keith Nichol ran the offense for much of the fourth quarter and the overtime for the Spartans.
Glenn Winston's 15-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter gave Michigan State a 20-6 lead.
But Forcier led yet another comeback for Michigan, with rain and wind swirling around Spartan Stadium. He connected with Darryl Stonum for a 60-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 20-13 with 4:03 remaining. Then he hit Roundtree to cap off a 92-yard drive as time wound down.
But Michigan couldn't overcome mistakes made earlier in the game.
Leading 10-6 midway through the third quarter, Michigan State's defense forced Michigan into a fourth-and-inches at the Wolverines' 16-yard line. Michigan attempted a fake punt, which blew up when punter Zoltan Mesko was tackled behind the line of scrimmage.
"He was supposed to kick it," coach Rich Rodriguez said. "It was a read. Zoltan's made that decision very, very well a number of times. That time he probably saw a crease, I guess."
Michigan State capitalized on the good field position with a 24-yard field goal by Brett Swenson, giving the Spartans a 13-6 lead.
The win breaks a three-game losing streak for Michigan State. The Spartans had given up an average of 33 points in losses to Central Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin.
Michigan State limited Michigan to 251 yards of offense Saturday. It helped that the Spartans had the ball for 40 minutes compared to 20 minutes for the Wolverines.