Another week, another loss for Michigan State. This time it was by a score of 32-23 against archrival Michigan. The Spartans’ six-game losing streak is the second-longest in school history. In one way, there were many positives in this game. The Spartan defense held Michigan to only three points in the second half and became only the third team to intercept a pass from Wolverine quarterback Wilton Speight. They fought valiantly against the No. 2 team in the nation, but the result was the same—another loss. Without further ado, here are three takeaways from the Michigan game.
1 Revival of the running game
LJ Scott rushed for over 100 yards for the second straight week. As a team, the Spartans out rushed the Wolverines 217-192. In the previous 42 of 46 meetings, the team with the most rushing yards was the winner of this rivalry. Saturday’s game was an outlier. Still, with a shaky passing game, Mark Dantonio cannot help but to be satisfied that his running game, one of MSU’s strong suits, is finally awakening.
2 Quarterback situation is all but resolved
Tyler O’Connor started and finished against Michigan, but he didn’t see much action in the middle. O’Connor is undoubtedly one of the top leaders on the roster, but his throws were incredibly inaccurate against the Wolverines, as shown by his 50 percent completion rate. Still, he was better than Damion Terry, who completed zero of four attempts before being taken out after getting the wind knocked out of him.
Brian Lewerke was the third Spartan to see action at the quarterback position and he made the most of it with six completions for 100 yards and a touchdown. Under Lewerke, the offense was well managed, which makes his fourth quarter injury even harder to swallow for Spartan fans. It was recently confirmed that he is out for season with a broken tibia. “MSU QB Brian Lewerke done for season with broken tibia he suffered Saturday in 4th qtr,” said play-by-play announcer and reporter Kevin Gehl. “No surgery needed. He’ll back in spring.”
The MSU quarterback situation could not be more complicated. It was originally thought that O’Connor secured the starting gig during the offseason, but this could not have been farther from the truth. As the Spartans struggle to find answers at the most important position, they continue to jeopardize their chances to play in the postseason.
3 Spartans continue to fail in big situations
For what seems like the umpteenth time, MSU started strong. Spartan Stadium was electric when the Spartans scored on the opening drive to go up 7-0 on Michigan. They finished the first quarter tied 7-7, but went straight downhill right after. MSU got little momentum on offense while they squandered tackles on defense. Although the defense had an excellent second half, O’Connor and company could never take advantage.
Darian Hicks brilliantly read one of Speight’s passes early in the third quarter for an interception, but MSU failed to score after handing the ball off to LJ Scott four straight times within the five-yard line.
The Spartan offense finally picked up in the fourth quarter, but it was essentially too late. They officially lost any shot at victory with one second left by fumbling the football on a curious two-point conversion attempt, which was recovered by Jabrill Peppers and returned for two points.
As usual, the Spartans had moments where they played solid football. But this was only in the first quarter while it was still anyone’s game, and in the fourth quarter when they were down by too many points to come back.