Spartans Fall To No. 11 Michigan
Nov 1, 2003
By LARRY LAGE
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Chris Perry's chest heaved as he put his hands on his knees. Then, he rested an arm on an official.
He had good reason to be tired.
Perry ran for 219 yards on a school-record 51 carries and John Navarre threw three touchdown passes to lead No. 11 Michigan past No. 9 Michigan State 27-20 on Saturday.
"I need a hot tub," Perry said. "And we've got one in our apartment."
The Wolverines (8-2, 5-1) moved into first place alone in the Big Ten after earning just the second win on the road in the rivalry in 12 years.
"You're not going to be Big Ten champions unless you're state champions," Michigan's Dave Pearson said.
If Michigan, which is off next week, wins at Northwestern in two weeks and against at home Ohio State on Nov. 22, the Wolverines will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since winning the 1997 national championship.
"We have to finish this off," Navarre said.
The Spartans (7-2, 4-1) had won five straight games and were off to their best start since 1966. If Michigan State wins on the road against Ohio State and Wisconsin and at home against Penn State, it will have at least a share of its first Big Ten title since 1990.
"It's far from over," Michigan State's Jeff Smoker said.
Michigan drove into Michigan State territory, but punted into the end zone with 1:06 left.
With no timeouts, Michigan State drove to midfield. The game ended on Smoker's desperation heave that was intercepted by Scott McClintock in the end zone after it hit receiver Aaron Alexander's hands.
"We dominated that game," Michigan's Ernest Shazor said. "Don't let the final score fool you."
Perry surpassed the Michigan rushing-attempt record of 42 set by Ron Johnson in 1967 and matched by Anthony Thomas in 1999. His TD in the second quarter was the first score.
"I promise you, he didn't want to come out," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said.
Navarre was 17-of-31 for 223 yards with three TDs and one interception. Braylon Edwards caught seven passes for 103 yards and two scores.
Smoker was 21-of-40 for 254 yards with a TD and an interception, his first more than 200 passes. Agim Shabaj had four receptions for 106 yards and a TD.
Michigan's offensive line was dominating.
When Perry ran, he had huge holes. For the 33rd time in 34 meetings, the team that ran for more yards won. Michigan outgained Michigan State 216-36 on the ground.
When Navarre threw, he had time against a team that entered the game leading the nation with 34 sacks. The Spartans' only sack was the one that gave them comeback hopes.
Navarre lofted a 40-yard TD pass to Edwards with 1:03 left in the first half. Garrett Rivas' extra point was wide right, leaving Michigan with a 13-3 lead at halftime.
On fourth-and-2 at Michigan's 36, the Spartans lined up for a punt and had Rayner run, but he was slung to the ground just short of the first down by Pierre Woods and Pat Massey.
"We made sure they didn't get any momentum," Woods said.
On the ensuing drive, Navarre's 26-yard pass to a wide-open Andy Mignery put the Wolverines ahead 20-3 with 4:12 left in the third quarter.
Michigan State answered on its next offensive play with Smoker's 73-yard pass to Shabaj, who was all alone.
But again, the Spartans couldn't stop Michigan.
On a third-and-goal from the 16, Navarre's pass to Edwards put the Wolverines ahead 27-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Michigan State coach John L. Smith said Michigan was the most-balanced team - with the best talent - the Spartans have faced. They could not stack their defense against the run because of the Wolverines' passing game.
"You can't put a guy on an island against those kids," Smith said. "It's unfair to do that, but you're damned if you do and damned if you don't."
at the official