ANN ARBOR – The 63rd meeting for the Paul Bunyan Trophy lived up to the hype Saturday afternoon as the No. 7 Michigan State Spartans defeated the No. 12 Michigan Wolverines 27-23 in one of the most bizarre finishes ever in college football history.
With 10 seconds left and ahead 23-21, the Wolverines lined up to punt ready to seal the victory, giving Jim Harbaugh his first victory in the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy. The only thing that did not cross the minds of every college football fan who was watching, the bout for state supremacy in Michigan doesn’t end until 0:00 is shown on the board.
Michigan’s punter Blake O’Neill muffed a low snap and that is when disaster struck for Michigan. Spartans’ Jalen Watts-Jackson proceeded to scoop the loose ball taking it to the end zone with a convoy of Michigan State defenders.
“We find a way,” head coach Mark Dantonio said. “That’s the culture here. We just believe”
Will this be considered the “Miracle in Michigan: The Sequel?” No matter what the title will be to this incredible finish, it was almost as if everyone watching was in a dream.
“I felt like I was in a dream,” senior quarterback Connor Cook said. “There’s nothing like winning in the Big House, but to do it in that fashion. I felt like I was in a dream.”
Senior defensive end Shilique Calhoun added, “I told the special teams to believe before the punt. We are never out of it. I had all the confidence in the world in our special teams and in our offense.”
After the game-winning touchdown Watts-Jackson was taken to the hospital due to a hip injury.
It was the perfect ending for any Spartan fan. For Wolverines – it was a meltdown that will be hard to swallow for 365 days, if ever. Nonetheless, for any college football fan, the game turned out to be one for the ages. A game that will go down in the history books next to “Flutie’s Hail Mary,” “The Band is on the Field,” and the plethora of “Wide Rights”.
The game turned into a boxing match. Two heavyweight fighters throwing haymakers, yet neither fighter collapsing onto the turf. For Cook, the win marked his 30th career victory. On the day the senior went for 18 of 39, throwing for 328 yards and one touchdown. His favorite target in this matchup was Aaron Burbridge. The senior hauled in nine receptions for 132 yards.
On the ground Gerald Holmes, LJ Scott, and Delton Williams all had eight carries each, sharing the load without Madre London in the lineup. Scott punched the ball in for two scores while wide receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr. notched a touchdown of his own before the game-winning clincher at the end.
“Wins like this brings us closer together,” Cook said.
The Spartans (7-0) head back home to take on the Indiana Hoosiers (4-3) at Spartan Stadium next weekend. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.