Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 2002

Looking Back is a Special Feature by Jeff Cummins Highlighting Key Rivalry Games

The first installment of the series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State takes us back to 2002. The previous year, Michigan had suffered a rather dubious defeat when Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker appeared not to have spiked the ball in time, but still received an additional second on the clock and completed a two-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Duckett as the clock ran out.

The Wolverines weren’t about to let the same thing happen in 2002, and they took it to Michigan State from the kickoff, winning 49-3. Well, almost from the kickoff. Michigan State got a 39-yard field goal from Dave Rayner before the Wolverines colored the game maize and blue. Running back B.J. Askew gave the Wolverines a 7-3 lead when he scored from two yards out, and when quarterback John Navarre connected with Russell Bellamy, the Wolverines took a 21-3 lead into the locker room at halftime, and most fans started planning their postgame tailgate menus.

In the third quarter, Navarre added a 12-yard touchdown pass to Bennie Joppru and a 47-yard TD pass to Bellamy. This time, there was no matter of an additional second. The Wolverines just dominated the Spartans. The rivalry game would be the last for Michigan State coach Bobby Williams, who was relieved of his job duties at the end of the season. Michigan finished the season with a trip to Tampa, where the Wolverines topped Florida in the Outback Bow, 38-30.

Thanks for ESPN for the game broadcast of this contest. As always, I do not own anything and this blog is written strictly for the enjoyment of readers.

About Jeff Cummins

Jeff Cummins has written about football since 1998, including nine years with The Record of Hackensack, N.J. He frequently contributes feature stories to Touchdown Illustrated, an insert in the national college football game program, published by University Sports Publications, and he has also written the official pregame stories for the game programs of the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Gator Bowl, and the BCS National Championship game. He has written the preview story for the official program for the NHL Winter Classic at MIchigan Stadium, and numerous college basketball feature stories for College Hoops Illustrated, another game program insert published by University Sports Publications. In addition, he has written stories about theater, music, physical therapy, and newsletter marketing. He’s an avid Michigan football fan and long-time New York Jets season ticket holder, and he can be reached at jeffcummins@optonline.net.