Ann Arbor, MI – In a cold and mostly empty Big House, the 113th meeting between the Spartans and Wolverines went the opposite of how everyone expected.
The Michigan State defense showed up to play, especially the front four, wreaking havoc in the middle, making QB Joe Milton uncomfortable, and clogging up holes – preventing the Wolverines from running the ball very effectively.
In classic Big Ten fashion, both teams forced plenty of punts; and two quarters down, they walked into their respective locker rooms with one resounding conclusion.
MSU competed alongside the Wolverines for one-half of football.
The 14-10 score reflected that statement.
At times, fans scratched their heads due to more conservative play-calling, especially with 2:49 left before halftime when MSU ran the ball on third-and-15.
However, offensive coordinator Jay Johnson allowed Rocky Lombardi to sling it downfield far more than last week resulting in 96 first-half passing yards for two touchdowns.
And the Spartans wouldn't stop there.
Michigan State busted out of the gates forcing the Wolverines into a three-and-out to begin the final half of play.
Feeling the momentum, Lombardi tossed a 50-yard pass to freshman receiver Ricky White; the drive would stall, forcing Matt Coghlin to kick a field goal and give MSU a 17-10 advantage.
White, a true freshman, played well all day, finishing with eight receptions for 196 yards and one touchdown (the performance tied him with Andre Rison for seventh-most receiving yards in a single game and the second-most against Michigan).
But the Wolverines would claw their way back into it, tying the game thanks to a one-yard touchdown from RB Blake Corum.
It was a battle.
One someone had to win.
Yet, neither side could pull ahead, and with less than ten minutes left in the contest, Michigan State forced its rival to punt for the eighth time.
Lombardi took the field, ready to shine.
And so did White.
The Iowa native led an 11-play 92-yard drive completing 6-of-7 passes (84 yards), throwing a touchdown pass to Connor Heyward, essentially sealing the Michigan State victory.
Michigan would have their rebuttal, but at that point, there wasn't enough time.
The Spartans, a 21.5-point underdog, walked into Ann Arbor and stunned the Michigan Wolverines, 27-24.
Mel Tucker's narrative only intensifies, who now becomes the second coach in school history to defeat Michigan in his first try.
He's also the only person to record his first victory as an MSU head coach against the Wolverines.
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