Michigan State stuns Michigan on play of the year in college football
Final: No. 7 Michigan State 27, No. 12 Michigan 23
Key play: Hmm, what do you think?
If you flipped off Saturday’s game 10 seconds early, you missed the ending of the century. For shame. For shaaaaaaaame. Blake O’Neill, the guy who sailed an 80-yard in the beginning of the game, made a mistake that will live in infamy. He fumbled the snap on a punt with 10 seconds left, which was scooped up by Jalen Watts-Jackson and returned for the most improbable touchdown imaginable. How in the world does that happen? You have to feel terrible for O’Neill, but that’s why the game is never truly over until the clock hits zero. Michigan did everything and more to earn a monumental win against its in-state rival. I don’t know if that’s better than the kick-six in the Iron Bowl, but it’s certainly in the conversation. Wow.
Telling stat: Both teams rush for less than two yards per carry
It almost feels anti-climatic to talk about the running game after the way that one ended. But both teams couldn’t get offense rolling because of the struggles on the ground. Michigan’s bread and butter had been establishing the run and playing a ball-control style. De’Veon Smith had just 46 yards on 19 carries while Michigan State had three rushers get eight carries but fall short of 35 yards. That’s a credit to a couple of defenses that stepped up and made plays at the line of scrimmage.
–Joe Bolden ejected for targeting
Michigan lost its defensive captain in the first half on a play that was questionable at best. The Wolverine linebacker appeared to have been pushed by Jack Conklin and fell on Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook. The refs reviewed it and upheld the targeting call, which ended Bolden’s day. Michigan State promptly attacked the middle of the Michigan defense with a slant to Aaron Burbridge and the next play was an L.J. Scott touchdown run. The Wolverines’ impressive 13-quarter shutout streak came to an end almost immediately when Bolden was tossed. Coincidence? I think not.
–Jabrill Peppers is a game-changer
We finally saw why some have been comparing Peppers to Charles Woodson. The redshirt freshman got into the game on offense and showed everybody how dangerous he is. When he first came into the game, Michigan State called back-to-back timeouts. He later came in and nearly scored on a pop pass from 31 yards out. Even in the punt return game, Peppers gave the Wolverines some ideal starting field position. Just for good measure, he caught a swing pass. Peppers has been so good in the secondary without making the highlight-reel plays, that the casual fan might’ve forgotten about what kind of weapon he can be. On Saturday, that was clear as day.
What it means: MSU’s playoff hopes are alive and well, UM can’t let that spiral
Well, Michigan State went from having weak victory after weak victory to arguably the best win in the B1G this year. To somehow stay unbeaten down two with 10 seconds left without the ball is a miracle. The Spartans had been fading from the playoff conversation, but as they always do, they found a way to win. For Michigan, there’s no remedy for a punch to the gut like that. The Wolverines were a punt away from moving into the top-five discussion with its first major win of the Jim Harbaugh era. Somehow, someway, the Wolverines can’t feel sorry for themselves. Lord knows there will be plenty of people that do, though.