Nov. 3, 2013
By Steve Grinczel, MSUSpartans.com Online Columnist | @GrinzOnGreen
EAST LANSING, Mich. - While Michigan State's defense throttled Michigan's offense Saturday, the Spartan offense kept chipping away at the U-M defense until it toppled.
And with special teams dictating field position and scoring nine key points, No. 24-ranked MSU's 29-6 victory over No. 23 Michigan was a clinic in integration and coordination.
"This was definitely a complete win," said wide receiver Bennie Fowler. "The defense continues to do what they do, but offensively, we were able to move the ball in the air and on the ground.
"It was a complete game, all around."
Co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner wasn't happy with how the Spartans "started out a little bit sluggish," but the defense gave it time to catch up by holding Michigan to minus-48 yards on the ground, the lowest single-game rushing total in school history.
Michigan State true freshman kicker Michael Geiger, who didn't have a field-goal attempt in the previous three games, made a 40-yarder in the first quarter and a 44-yarder in the second to counter Michigan's only two scores, and then added one from 35 in the third quarter.
With 23 seconds left in the first half, Fowler got open on a post-corner pattern and came open when the defensive backs bit on quarterback Connor Cook's pump fake. Fowler caught the ball in the right, back-corner of the end zone for a 13-6 lead.
Meantime, the rushing attack, which produced just 16 yards on 14 first-half carries, ended up churning out 142 yards and two touchdowns on 39 attempts.
Tailback Jeremy Langford recorded his fourth-straight 100-yard rushing game by breaking loose for a career-long 40-yard touchdown run on his final carry of the game in the fourth quarter. Langford's 120 yards on 26 carries puts his season-total at 775 yards with three regular-season games to play.
Then there's punter Mike Sadler, who landed three of his five punts inside the 20-yard to keep the Wolverines backed up in their own half of the field for much of the game.
"It just shows you the character that we have as a whole team," Cook said. "I feel like we're really resilient on offense. Our defense has set the tone all year and if they continue to set the tone and if our offense keeps building on our past performances, I think we'll run the table.
"But, we just have to focus on one week at a time, one team at a time and I think we'll be good."
Michigan State has an extra week to bask in the glow of beating Michigan thanks to a bye before traveling to Nebraska, which has a 7-0 all-time record against MSU including two wins since joining the Big Ten.
The Spartans won't have their heads in the clouds for long. At 8-1 overall and 5-0 in the Legends Division, MSU has a one-game lead over the Cornhuskers (7-1, 3-1)
"With how excited everybody was in the locker room, you could tell how much this (Michigan) game still means," Fowler said. "But..., we haven't beaten Nebraska in the Big Ten since they've been there. We owe them.
"We still have some unfinished business."