These might have been hideous, and the game might have been, too, but Michigan State will take it.
The Spartans ended Michigan’s run at a perfect season today with a 28-14 win against “Big Brother.” That’s four straight, which pretty much makes big brother your older, fatter, kind of alcoholic brother that you can beat at sports.
Michigan’s offense was rendered impotent as the Spartans corralled Denard Robinson’s run game and forced him to pass, which, um, isn’t what Michigan wants to be doing. Robinson was 9-of-24 for 123 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The interception was returned for a touchdown by Isaiah Lewis, effectively ending the game.
Perhaps more impressive, however, was Michigan State holding Robinson to under 50 yards rushing. The Spartans also hit him well after the whistle a couple of times, you know, just because. It worked, though, as Robinson was out of the game at the end of Michigan’s final drive, causing backup Devin Gardner — who Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges inexplicably used with relative frequency during the game — to come up with a fourth-and-22 play that is sure to reside at the top of ESPN’s Worst of the Worst for years to come. Seriously, Gardner ran for about 130 yards on the play, 125 of which were in the wrong direction or sideways.
It’s only loss No. 1 for Michigan, but it brings back memories of the Rich Rodriguez era. Michigan State out-schemed Michigan in the second half, destroying the “Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison won’t be out-coached” meme that Michigan fans were spreading. The Wolverines couldn’t tackle, which surely gave Michigan fans the shakes after watching that on repeat for the last three years.
I’m not saying Brady Hoke = Rich Rodriguez, but this should put the brakes on the Brady Hoke for Pope campaigns. Michigan is just now entering the tough part of its schedule, and should expect more of this as it goes on this season.
As for Michigan State, it’s not out of the woods yet. The Spartans have to play Wisconsin and Nebraska in the next two weeks, so the euphoria from this win could wear off quickly. But the Spartans are unbeaten in Big Ten play after games against Ohio State and Michigan, and control their own destiny when it comes to playing for the Big Ten championship.
But that’s all irrelevant right now, as “Little Brother” has officially grown up and is in control of the state of Michigan, which might be the most important thing to the residents of East Lansing.