EAST LANSING - Chad Henne threw three touchdown passes and Michael Hart rushed for 218 yards to propel unranked Michigan to a 34-31 upset win over #11 Michigan State.
The Spartans had their chances, but key penalties, miscommunication on defense and a strangely conservative game plan in the fourth quarter doomed State to a heartbreaking loss its crosstown rival.
Michigan appeared to have the game salted away, ahead 31-24 and driving when defensive end Bobby Jones knocked the ball loose from Henne. Domata Peko recovered the football and rambled 74 yards for the game-tying touchdown.
The Spartans had momentum but it swung back quickly in the opposite direction after the MSU offense drove from their own four-yard line to the Michigan six-yard line, only to have kicker John Goss miss a 23-yard field goal
A bitter coach John L. Smith had very little to say in his post game press conference. "I have to congratulate those guys, they made more plays that we did and made more kicks than we did, " said Smith. "They're better than we are, so congratulations to them, we'll have to pick up the pieces and bounce back next week."
The Spartans got the ball first in overtime after Peko's heorics but quarterback Drew Stanton (20-of-30, 282 yards, one interception and one TD) nearly had a pass intended for Kyle Brown intercepted. When MSU attempted the field goal to give the Spartans the lead, coach John L. Smith had to go back to John Goss, although he wanted to go to walk-on Nick Mayer.
"Yes, I thought about going to Mayer until he came up to me and told me 'my groin hurts and I don't know if I can kick it.'" revealed Smith.
But the Spartans problems weren't just in the kicking game. They never did get a handle on Wolverine running back Michael Hart who shredded the Spartans run defense including bursts of 64 and 45 yards en route to his huge offensive day.
Bandit SirDarean Adams said he felt those runs were a direct result of miscommunication between the Spartans defensive line and their linebacking unit.
"It wasn't really us falling apart, they were great calls offensively and mental mistakes by us. We weren't communicating like we were supposed to get the proper calls to our defensive linemen."
Hart's tough running allowed Michigan to be effective in play action and dominate time of possession down the stretch.
To a man, the Spartans vowed that they not to into the tank as they have done in previous years following a loss to the Wolverines or abandon their motto to "finish."
They promised they would use the bye week to get ready for a tough game at Ohio State.