Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 2022

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

The final installment of this year’s series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State takes us back just one year, to the 2022 matchup.

By 2022, Michigan’s status as one of the elite powers in college football had been firmly reestablished. By contrast, Michigan State was struggling. Just a year earlier, Spartan fans and alumni puffed out their chests and shouted, “Tuck comin!” By 2022, Michigan State seemed to have lost its way.

For its part, Michigan had undergone some changes in 2022. Do-everything superstar Aidan Hutchinson had graduated and joined the neighboring Detroit Lions in the NFL. JJ McCarthy had won the quarterback competition against Cade McNamara and he and running back Blake Corum were now the clear leaders of the team.

Truth be told, the game itself was pretty boring. Michigan exhibited a methodical dominance that seemed to lull Michigan State to sleep. On the field, at least.

The Wolverines relied on five field goals by Jake Moody to top the Spartans, 29-7. The onslaught of field goals produced the numbing effect of Novocain.

Oddly enough, the real drama began after the game ended. The viral power of social media produced sketchy reports of a fracas in the tunnel following the game. Rumors on social media platforms quickly gave way to credible news reports detailing a violent confrontation. Even the most cynical football fans were stunned.

The confrontation in the tunnel raised tensions between the two institutions to an unprecedented level. The months following the game produced an animosity that represented more than mere bragging rights.

Fans, alumni, and even casual observers anticipate the 2023 game with an awkward fascination. The 2022 game? Strangely enough, it will be remembered for decades.

Thanks to ESPN, YouTube, and YouTube poster ZTL for the following broadcast of the 2022 game. As always, I own nothing and I do not profit in any way from this blog post.

Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 2012

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

The fourth installment of this year’s series looking back at classic games between Michigan and Michigan State takes us back to 2012.

The previous season had seen a complete restoration of Michigan pride, with one notable exception. Brady Hoke was indoctrinated as the head coach by renewing an old Michigan tradition: Michigan lost to Michigan State in Hoke’s first year, just as the Wolverines had lost to the Spartans in Bo Schembechler’s first year.

The 2012 campaign proved to be considerably more challenging than 2011 for Michigan. The Wolverines dropped early games to Alabama and Notre Dame, and some of the luster from the previous season seemed to have faded. The grudge match against Michigan State proved to be just the tonic for the Wolverines.

Once the game began, it quickly took on the character of many clashes between Michigan and Michigan State, evolving into a hard-hitting, low-scoring affair. There were plenty of offensive theatrics, but they produced few points. On this day, the Wolverines relied heavily on the dependable feet of their kickers, and they delivered in the clutch.

Michigan trailed by a point as the fourth quarter began, but Brendan Gibbons promptly erased that deficit with a 21-yard field goal. The lead didn’t last long, as Michigan State drove deep into Wolverine territory before the Michigan defense forced a Dan Conroy field goal.

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson responded with a 43-yard run to the Michigan State 32-yard line, but once again, a Wolverines’ drive was thwarted. A valiant effort by the Michigan defense gave the Wolverines one final shot at victory.

Robinson then led the Michigan offense on a courageous drive, battling a feisty Michigan State defense every step of the way. With just five seconds remaining, Gibbons battled a tough angle to kick a 39-yard field goal, giving Michigan a 12-10 win.

Michigan’s powerful offense never hit its stride in this game, a testament to the hard-hitting Michigan State defense. It’s fitting that this classic, defensive-oriented affair was the 900th victory in Michigan football history.

Thanks to ESPN, the Big Ten Network, YouTube and YouTube poster WolverineDevotee for the highlight film of this game. As always, I own and do not profit from this blog post in any way.

Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 2007

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

The third installment of this year’s series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State takes us back 2007.

Lloyd Carr’s final team began the season with a lot of expectations; too many, as it turned out. The Wolverines came in with one of the best rosters in the last 50 years of Michigan football. Quarterback Chad Henne, running back Mike Hart and offensive tackle Jake Long were all seniors with significant experience, and they led an explosive offense. Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington were dangerous receiving threats, and Carson Butler and Mike Massey were both reliable tight ends. The defense was led by outside linebacker Shawn Crable, with speedy cornerback Morgan Trent able to provide blanket coverage on receivers. Player for player, the Wolverines could match up with any team in the nation.

Unfortunately, the matchups didn’t end all that well in the first two games, as Michigan fell to Appalachian State and Oregon, starting the season with an inauspicious record of no wins and two losses. However, by the time Michigan was about to face Michigan State, the Wolverines had reeled off seven consecutive wins, and were playing with the kind of zest that led them to 11 consecutive victories in 2006. Michigan State had a new coach named Mark Dantonio, who went on to make quite an impact on the rivalry.

Things started well for Michigan. After Jamar Adams came up with a clutch interception, Hart added a couple of long runs and Henne connected with Butler to give Michigan a 14-3 lead that seemed to be commanding. Emphasis on the word “seemed.”

The second half was quite different. Jehuu Caulcrick got things started with a 1-yard plunge for a Michigan State touchdown, and suddenly, there was a footballl game in East Lansing. As the fourth quarter began, MSU quarterback Brian Hoyer tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Kellen Davis, and the Spartans grabbed the lead. Seven minutes later, Caulcrick scored on another 1-yard run, and things looked pretty bleak for Michigan.

With precious little time left, the Wolverines woke up and started playing like a championship team. Following an injury to Henne, freshman Ryan Mallett came in to play quarterback for Michigan. Mallett was promptly sacked and stripped of the ball, but Hart alertly picked up the fumble and fought his way for 15 yards and a critical first down. Following several plays with Mallett at quarterback, Henne returned to throw a beautiful touchdown pass to Greg Matthews, and the Wolverines were back within stiking distance. Then, on 3rd & 11, Henne completed a daring pass to Manningham, who walked a veritable to tightrope to earn a first down for Michigan. A few plays later, Henne found Manningham again, as the receiver caught the ball while falling backward for an amazing touchdown. Michigan had retaken the lead, for good.

Michigan State got the ball back, and Crable promptly sacked Hoyer to stick the Spartans in a deep hole. Three incompletions later, the Wolverines took possession of the ball and the game, earning one of the most hard-fought victories in the history of the rivalry.

Following the game, Hart referred to Michigan State as “little brother,” an infamous quote that fired up the Spartans for more than decade to follow. But on this day, Hart performed in a clutch manner, and the Wolverines earned a win for the ages.

Thanks to ABC Sports, YouTube, and YouTube poster Pizza Pizzichetti for the accompanying broadcast of this game. As always, I own nothing, and this blog post is strictly for the enjoyment of readers.

Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 1973

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

The second installment of this year’s series looking back at classic games in the rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State takes us back 40 years, to 1973.

The year started with a flurry of events. CBS sold the New York Yankees to a 12-person syndicate headed by George Stainbrenner and in late January, President Richard Nixon announced that a peace agreement had been reached to end the war in Vietnam. In September, Yankee Stadium closed at the conclusion of the baseball season to begin a two-year renovation project.

In college football, Michigan entered the ’73 campaign with a roster that could certainly be called “loaded.” Mult-threat quarterback Dennis Franklin ran the offense, and tight end Paul Seal, a fierce blocker, was a favorite passing target. Franklin and Seal were joined by running backs Ed Shuttlesworth, Gil Chapman and Chuck Heather on the All-Big Ten squad. Defensive end Dave Gallagher and defensive back Dave Brown, both consensus All-America selections, headlilned the defense. Strong-legged Vietnam veteran MIke Lantry handled the placekicking duties.

Michigan State limped into the game with a 1-3 record, but as every Wolverine knows, the Spartans are dangerous in the rivalry game, particularly when they’re at home. Michigan entered the game as the heavy favorite, but more than 78,000 fans jammed Spartan Stadium, including many hoping for an upset.

The Wolverines probably would not have lost to anyone on this day. Five years into the Bo Schembechler era, Michigan was playing some of the best football of any Bo team. Once the game started, “53” seemed to become Michigan’s magin number. Brown scored on a 53-yard punt return with Chapman adding a 53-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Lantry had a 35-yard field goal in between, and the Wolverines opened up a 17-0 lead by halftime.

With the game being played in a steady rain, Michigan State had one hope for the second half: If the rain forced Michigan to fumble the ball, State had a chance. The rain kept coming, but Michigan kept control of the ball. In the fourth quarter, Franklin connected with Seal for a short touchdown pass and Shuttlesworth run for a touchdown to make the final score, Michigan 31, Michigan State 0.

Michigan never lost a game in 1973, ending its season with a 10-10 tie against Ohio State, and a share of the Big Ten championship. The Wolverines were robbed af a trip to the Rose Bowl and a possible shot at the national championship when the Big Ten athletic directors awarded the Rose Bowl berth to Ohio State, but that’s a story for another day. The bottom line is that the 1973 Wolverines finished undefeated and posted one of the greatest seasons in Michigan football history.

I couldn’t find any video of this game, so we’ll have to settle for the attached copy of the box score from the Bentley Library. Thanks to Michigan State University and the University of Michigan for this copy of the box score. As always, I own nothing and i do not profit from this blog post in any way.


Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 2021

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

The first installment of this year’s series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State takes us back just two years, to 2021.

In the time since 2019, the world experienced a lot of change. Covid-19 sent workers home, and people adjusted to isolation. Many struggled with it, while others benefited, to varying degrees. Some even reveled in the change.

Michigan carefully reexamined its football course prior to 2021, and chose to go back to basics. Jim Harbaugh remained head coach, and Josh Gattis remained his offensive coordinator, though the success Michigan’s offense experience came from renewing its commitment to a power running game. There were several factors involved, but the tangible result was success for Michigan.

Michigan grabbed the early lead when Cade McNamara connected with Andrel Anthony for a 92-yard touchdown. Late in the second quarter, the game turned on the pivotal play. Michigan was leading 20-14 with less than two minutes left when MSU quarterback Payton Thorne faded back to pass deep in Spartan territory. Michigan defensive end David Ojabo beat a block and sacked Thorne, stripping the ball in the process. Better still, all-world defensive end Aidan Hutchinson recovered the fumble in the end zone, and Michigan had a two-score lead.

There was just one problem. Officials reviewed the tape and ruled that Thorne’s shin was down before he fumbled the ball. Television replays gave every impression that the original ruling was correct, because that ball appeared to pop loose before Thorne’s shin hit the ground. However, the game officials reversed their original call and ruled that Michigan State would keep the ball. Instead of having 26 points on the scoreboard, Michigan witnessed what might have been the 26th time in series history that an officiating controversy worked in Michigan State’s favor.

After that, Jake Moody kicked a field goal just before halftime to extend Michigan’s lead to nine points, but the Wolverines had difficulty overcoming the obvious officiating mistake in the first half. Late in the game, Michigan had a fourth down and 3 yards to go in Michigan State territory. Once again, the referees missed the fact that a defensive back grabbed Ronnie Bell’s arm, preventing him from reaching for the ball. MIchigan turned the ball over on downs, and Michigan State won, 37-33.

The good news for Michigan was that the Wolverines went on to beat Ohio State and top Iowa in the Big Ten championship game, earning their first berth in the College Football Playoff. Still, that controversial loss to Michigan State in East Lansing prevented the Wolverines from finishing the regular season with a perfect record, something that will stick in the Wolverines’ craws forever.

Many thanks for Fox Sports, the Big Ten Network, YouTube and YouTube poster Matthew Loves Ball for the accompanying highlight film of this game. As always, I own nothing and do not profit from this blog post in any way.


6 Michigan vs #8 Michigan State Football Game Highlights 10 30 2021