Every so often get one of those, “where were you” moment in time. Michigan football has been around for over 100 years and the program is the winningest program in college football history. Their stadium is one of the oldest and biggest in college football, if not all of football, pro and college. So it is fair to say that the Michigan fans and alumni have seen their fair share of highs and lows in Michigan Stadium famously known as…”The Big House”.
I was 11 years old when I first experienced my “where were you” kind of moment when I saw the Laettner shot against Kentucky, 14 when the “Miracle at Michigan” took place; Kordell Stewart heaving a 70 yard pass to the end zone deflected into the arms of Michael Westbrook to pull out a win in Michigan. I was front and center in front of my television with the arguably the biggest upset of all time in college football happened when Appalachian State shocked the college football world defeating Michigan in the “The Big House”.
Saturday evening was again one of those moments in Ann Arbor when Michigan State cane in to play Michigan. Sparty was coming in undefeated, but questioned in the media about how up for the game they would be struggling in the last two weeks against Rutgers and Purdue? When it is a game against your in state rival you find a way to get up for it and ready. As for Michigan, they were coming in sky high on confidence after winning their last five games, shutting out their last three opponents. They had all the reasons to believe they could give MSU their first loss of the season and bring back the “Paul Bunyan” trophy back to Michigan which has been on the campus of East Lansing six out of the last seven years.
It was a game you would expect from two rival programs and good teams. Hard-hitting, back and forth, not giving an inch kind of a game. There were some questionable calls and some match-up battles that went back and forth all night. Jourdan Lewis and Aaron Burbridge were one-on-one the whole game. In the stats it may look like Burbridge got the better of the match-up with 9 catches for 132 yards, but Lewis kept him from catching any passes in the end zone.
MSU quarterback Connor Cook had a pedestrian performance with 328 yards in the air and less than 50 percent passing. Of course it could have been a little better if it wasn’t for some huge drops by his receivers. Most notably Macgarrett Kings, Jr. who had three drops alone, but caught a 30 yard touchdown strike in the third quarter to bring MSU within three points.
The run game on both sides was virtually nonexistent except in the red zone. Michigan State running back L.J. Scott and Michigan fullback Slone Houma both had two rushing touchdowns for their teams.
Now for the drama, Michigan was clinging to a two point lead, 23-21 since the L.J. Scott ran the ball in for a touchdown with a little over eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Michigan’s defense did what they have been doing all season and most of the game which was being stout and forced MSU to turn the ball over on down with 1:47 left. The Wolverines did what they were supposed to do with the time left, Jim Harbaugh played it as well as he should to running out the clock.
With 10 seconds left in the contest, all Michigan had to do is punt the ball away and it would most likely run out the clock, but like in anything else in sports, “it ain’t over until it’s over”. Michigan punter Blake O’Neill mishandled the punt and tried to pick it up and possibly kick it? It was knocked out of his arm into the waiting hands of Jalen Watts-Jackson, who had a convoy of Michigan State special teams blocking a lone Michigan player while returning the fumble back for a touchdown for MSU. This all happened, leaving no time left on the clock for Michigan to respond which made it all the more costly. Michigan State went on to win 27-23, virtually the sequel to the “Miracle at Michigan”, just the 2015 edition.