wdiv logo
SHOW MORE 

Michigan football hosts former nemesis, Michigan State transfer Rocky Lombardi, this weekend

Former Michigan State quarterback transferred to Northern Illinois this offseason

Northern Illinois quarterback Rocky Lombardi (12) works during the second half of an NCAA football game against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Atlanta.
Northern Illinois quarterback Rocky Lombardi (12) works during the second half of an NCAA football game against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. (The Associated Press 2021)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – There’s an interesting subplot to this weekend’s Michigan football game against Northern Illinois: Former Michigan State quarterback Rocky Lombardi returns to the Big House one year after shocking the Wolverines on that very field.

It was perhaps the worst loss of the Jim Harbaugh era, and one that Michigan fans won’t soon forget. After blowing out ranked Minnesota on the road in the opener and watching Michigan State lose to Rutgers, Michigan was a three-touchdown favorite heading into the game.

Lombardi led an extremely unlikely offensive explosion, throwing for 323 yards and three touchdowns. The Spartans took an early lead and never looked back, writing another stunning chapter in this unpredictable rivalry.

Rocky Lombardi #12 of the Michigan State Spartans throws a pass during the first quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on October 31, 2020 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (2020 Getty Images)

On Saturday, Lombardi returns with Northern Illinois across his chest, looking to capture some of that previous magic.

He’s already taken down one Power Five opponent this season, tossing two touchdown passes in a road win over Georgia Tech. Last week, he followed up with 233 yards and a trio of interceptions in a loss to Wyoming.

Overall, Lombardi has completed 30 of 53 pass attempts (56.6%) this season for 369 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Although the noon game atmosphere against Northern Illinois isn’t likely to be quite as hostile as last week’s night game against Washington, Lombardi will likely get a bit of the Giles Jackson treatment from those in attendance.

Jackson, who transferred from Michigan to Washington this offseason in a less-than-amicable split, heard loud boos every time his name was called over the public address system.

After what Lombardi did against Michigan in 2020, he’s likely to receive a similarly warm welcome.


About the Author:

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.