The Spartans first score came in the first half when O'Connor found fullback Trevon Pendleton on a play action, fake-reverse throwback when Pendleton leaked out of the backfield. At Oregon State, Minnesota had a fourth-quarter drive that was 15 plays (all rushes), covered 77 yards and lasted a whopping 9:24.
The defense did provide Michigan's biggest second-half spark.
O'Korn's Hail Mary pass after the Wolverines reached the Spartans' 37 fell incomplete on the game's final play. "We want to win our next game".
That proved to be a critical one, a 3-yard Brian sneak that kept the chains and clock moving.
MI got the ball back with 34 seconds left, and the MSU defense held on despite a almost costly late hit by Chris Frey. Lewerke scored from 14 yards when he scrambled up the middle and dived into the end zone. This time, the Spartans relied on their opportunistic defense, including two interceptions by safety David Dowell. The Spartans are 3-1 against the spread this season, while the Wolverines are 2-2 against the spread.
There is still a long time before the committee has to finalize the College Football Playoff bracket, but the Week 6 results could create significant shifts in thinking. Up next is a game at Minnesota followed by a visit from IN and trip to Northwestern before the Penn State-Ohio State 1-2 punch. And MSU coach Mark Dantonio is 8-3 all-time vs. the Wolverines. Neither team could move the ball at all.
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MI will get Paul Bunyan back when they can do the same. They didn't lead again against Dantonio, who has taken control of a rivalry that has historically been tilted in Michigan's favor.
NOTES: The Wolverines now lead the series 69-36-5, but the Spartans have won eight of the last 10 matchups. Senior running back Ty Isaac fumbled near midfield in the first quarter. Madre London took over for the rest of the half. "They made some things happen". O'Korn was 16 of 35 for 198 yards with three interceptions. Lewerke is also the leading rusher for the Spartans and is average 6.5 yards per carry. He was sacked a number of times, but he also showed very poor pocket awareness.
The native of Brook Park, Ohio, forced a fumble on Michigan's second offensive series in the first quarter, giving MSU excellent field position at the MI 46-yard line. Since the loss, Ohio State blew out Army and UNLV (whatever), then absolutely destroyed the soul of Rutgers and Maryland in successive weeks.
Saturday's second shocking home upset came in rain-soaked Ann Arbor, where the Wolverines' vulnerability as a true Big Ten contender was exposed as Michigan State stunned the home crowd with a hard-fought, 14-10 win.
From there, MSU went conservative on offense and punted the ball to play field position, trusting its defense to salt away a rain-soaked victory.