EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan beat Michigan State 21-7 in a hotly contested Big Ten Conference college football matchup at Spartan Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Michigan entered the game as a 7-point favorite. The Wolverines were rated No. 6 in the nation while the Spartans were ranked 24th. The Wolverines (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) had lost eight of 10 against coach Mark Dantonio’s Spartans and those setbacks have led to them not winning a Big Ten title since 2004.
From the outset the two teams traded possessions back and forth. With 5:15 remaining in the initial period, at 12:32 p.m. both squads were removed from the field and the stadium was emptied due to lightning.
Play eventually resumed 76 minutes later and the scoreless deadlock remained in effect at the end of the opener.
The Wolverines got on the scoreboard first on the very first play of the second stanza, with 14:55 showing on the clock, when quarterback Shea Patterson hit Nico Collins with a 6-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 advantage.
At the 1:36 juncture, kicker Quinn Nordin from Rockford missed a 36-yard field goal by hooking it to the left for Michigan. That allowed the 7-0 margin to stand at halftime.
Michigan State utilized a trick play to knot the score at 7-7 with 11:12 to go in the third quarter when a reverse wound up with a 4-yard scoring pass from wide receiver Darrell Stewart Jr. to quarterback Brian Lewerke.
The Wolverines retook the lead 14-7 when Patterson connected with Donovan Peoples-Jones on a 79-yard scoring strike with 2:24 left in the third. That gap stood through the final break.
In the finale, Michigan took control 21-7 when fullback Ben Mason scored on a 5-yard run with 10:21 to go. That score held up until the final gun.
Michigan is now 7-1 and has won its last seven straight. The Wolverines will now enjoy a weekend off before a big home date at Michigan Stadium against Penn State on Saturday, Nov. 3. The game time has yet to be decided.
Michigan State now stands 4-3 on the campaign. Next up for the Spartans will be another Big Ten homefield contest, this one against Purdue with kickoff scheduled for noon next Saturday.
The matchup is always highly charged, but it was kicked up a notch well before kickoff, and emotions didn’t subside even after a 75-minute weather delay during the first quarter.
Michigan State’s team walked from one end zone to the other with their arms locked and a few Wolverines were stretching out in the middle of the field when contact was made and words were exchanged .
“Total bush league,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Apparently coach Dantonio was 5 yards behind, smiling.”
Dantonio disagreed with Harbaugh’s assessment.
“That’s B.S.,” Dantonio said.
Michigan linebacker Devin Bush, one of the players involved in what Harbaugh called “shenanigans ,” later dragged and kicked his cleats to rip up some of the grass under the Spartans’ white logo at midfield.
“I just got caught up in the moment with my emotions,” Bush said.
The Spartans (4-3, 2-2) struggled to move the ball, getting held to 94 yards and failing to convert any of its 12 third downs.
“Our defense was lights out,” Harbaugh said. “That’s a dream game.”
——–The Associated Press contributed to this story.