Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 2004

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

The second installment of the series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State takes us to 2004. Michigan was fresh off a tough, defensive win over Iowa, which might just have taken some energy out of the Wolverines. They’d need every bit of energy they could find to top the Spartans in 2004.

In the fourth quarter, with just 8:43 left in regulation, Michigan State had taken a 27-10 lead, and reporters in the press box could be forgiven if they’d already started working on the lead paragraph to their game stories. It seemed that the script was written, but Braylon Edwards had other ideas.

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First, Michigan cut the lead to two touchdowns with a field goal by Garrett Rivas. Then, Brian Thompson recovered the insides kick after it bounced off a Michigan State player, and Michigan was in business. Two plays later, Edwards went up and grabbed a jump ball away from the cornerback in the end zone to bring Michigan to within one touchdown. Suddenly, a palpable shift had occurred. With 3:05 left in regulation, Mike Hart bounced outside a would-be tackle and gained 26 yards to the Spartan’s 22 yard line, and Michigan Stadium was shaking. On the ensuing play, Edwards out-jumped a defender again, and the score was tied, 27-27. However, Michigan State didn’t panic, and with time for one play in regulation, the Spartans had a shot at a 52-yard field goal, but Dave Rayner’s kick was short, and the game went to overtime.

The game went to a third overtime and Edwards gave Michigan the lead for good when he caught a slant pass and took it to the end zone. Finally, on fourth down and eight yards to go, Markus Curry knocked the ball away in the end zone, and Michigan came all the way back to claim a 45-37 win in triple overtime against Michigan State, in a game that State coach John L. Smith said the Spartans should have won.

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Thanks to YouTube poster RXwolverine and ESPN Classic for the game broadcast. As always, I own nothing, and this blog post is written strictly for the enjoyment of readers.

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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.