No. 24 Michigan State batters No. 23 Michigan 29-6
MSU batters Michigan, holding Wolverines to minus-48 yards rushing
Shilique Calhoun, Ed Davis and the rest of Michigan State's defense battered rival Michigan on Saturday, and the No. 24 Spartans remained unbeaten in the Big Ten with a 29-6 victory over the 23rd-ranked Wolverines.
VIEW: Michigan vs. MSU boxscore
Michigan State (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten) has won five of the last six meetings with the Wolverines, and this was the Spartans' most lopsided win in the series since 1967. They held Michigan (6-2, 2-2) to minus-48 yards rushing, the worst output in the Ann Arbor program's history.
Connor Cook threw for a touchdown and ran for one, but this game belonged to Michigan State's defense, which solidified its spot among the nation's best with an overwhelming performance on a rainy afternoon at Spartan Stadium.
Calhoun and Davis each had 2 ½ sacks.
Michigan State is ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense, and the Spartans looked positively dominating for most of the game. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner was sacked four times in the first quarter, and things only got worse for the Wolverines on one drive in the second.
On first down from the Michigan State 49, a shotgun snap sailed over Gardner's head for a loss of 20. After a sack on third down and a Michigan penalty, the Wolverines finally punted on fourth-and-48.
Thanks to the sacks and that bad snap, Michigan finished the first half with minus-41 yards rushing. The Wolverines' best hope was for Gardner to look for big chunks of yardage on deep passes. He completed a few, including a 58-yarder to Jehu Chesson that set up a field goal in the second quarter.
With the score tied at 6, Michigan State's slumbering offense finally broke through, driving 75 yards on 10 plays for the game's first touchdown. It came on a 14-yard pass from Cook to Bennie Fowler with 23 seconds left in the half.
Fowler's sliding catch came in the same back corner of the end zone where he was unable to hold onto a potential touchdown pass earlier in the quarter.
The second half was more of the same. Michael Geiger's third field goal of the day made it 16-6, and the Wolverines were stuck deep in their own territory for much of the third quarter.
Michigan finally caught a break when Cook's pass was intercepted by Raymon Taylor, giving the Wolverines the ball at the Michigan State 41. But that only gave the Spartans another chance to shine on defense.
Gardner lost 5 yards on what looked like a designed run, then Denicos Allen sacked him for a loss of 9. Michigan called a timeout, and several Spartans danced to the sideline, motioning for the crowd to make more noise.
Gardner was sacked again on the next play for a loss of 7, leaving the Wolverines punting on fourth-and-31 to start the fourth quarter.
Michigan's previous low point for rushing was in 1962, when the Wolverines were held to minus-46 yards by Minnesota. The Wolverines have now lost 10 straight road games against ranked opponents — the last victory was in 2006 at Notre Dame.
It was Michigan State's most lopsided win over Michigan since a 34-0 victory in 1967, right before the Wolverines gained the upper hand in this rivalry and held onto it for about four decades.
Cook's 1-yard run in the fourth made it 22-6, and Jeremy Langford added a 40-yarder in the final minutes.
Gardner was 14 of 27 for 210 yards with an interception. Cook was 18 of 33 for 252 yards.
Michigan State finished with seven sacks.