Led by Jeremy Langford’s 35 carry, 177-yard, three-touchdown performance, Michigan State (7-1, 4-0) beat Michigan for the sixth time in seven years to not only remain atop the Big Ten but also kept hope alive to punch their ticket to the inaugural four team college football playoff.
Michigan (3-5, 1-3) senior quarterback Devin Gardner struggled for a second straight year at Spartan Stadium, coughing the football up three times, including a pick six, as the Wolverines and Brady Hoke couldn’t score enough to compliment an admirable performance from the defense.
Michigan State outgained Michigan 446 to 186 as the Spartans earned 22 first downs compared to just 13 for the Wolverines.
Coming into the game, Michigan’s defense gave up just 93-yards rushing per game, allowing 219 Saturday against Michigan State.
The Spartans appeared to end it as quickly as it started, swiftly and seamlessly working downfield on the Michigan defense for a 7-0 lead just over three minutes into the game.
The Spartans wouldn’t need to add much more as the Wolverines fell by a final of 35-11. The win makes it six in seven seasons for Michigan State over Michigan.
The scoring started on an eight play, 75-yard by Michigan State with chunk plays of 24 and 28-yards to Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery, ending with a two yard run up the middle for Langford’s first touchdown of the day.
After both defenses forced punts, Michigan State linebacker Chris Frey was flagged for targeting and ejected following a review after barreling helmet first into Amara Darboh, who did not call for a fair catch.
The penalty set Michigan up with a first and 10 at the Michigan State 29, the first big break for the Wolverines, but Gardner dropped the football on the first play, Lawrence Thomas recovering for Michigan State.
Michigan State then looked to get the running going behind Langford, carrying the ball six times for 39-yards on the ensuing drive.
Michigan would catch another break with 4:18 left in the half.
Michigan wouldn’t gain any yards on three plays from scrimmage, settling for a 48-yard field from Matt Wile to make the score 7-3 in favor of Michigan State.
The Spartans responding before halftime with a nine play, 73-yard drive ending with a one-yard touchdown plunge by Langford, his second of the day as Michigan State went into the break up 14-3.
In the second half, the wheels came off for Michigan as they did in 2013.
On Michigan’s opening drive of the third quarter Devin Gardner found Amara Darboh on a go route down the right sideline that was dropped. Just two plays later, Gardner hit Devin Funchess in the hands on a ball that was also dropped, forcing Michigan to punt.
After the Michigan defense came up with yet another stop, Gardner made the big mistake, floating the ball on an out as Michigan State safety R.J. Williamson picked it off and raced the other way for a 29-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Michigan’s offense stalling again on the next drive, Michigan State’s offense came up with a big play as Cook found Lippett down the Spartan sideline for 70-yards and a touchdown on the first play of the drive.
Just like that, with 6:17 left in the third quarter, Michigan State had opened up a 28-3 advantage.
Michigan would reach the end zone against Michigan State for the first time since 2011 on a one-yard touchdown run by De’Veon Smith with 3:39 left in the fourth quarter.
Michigan State then tacked on one more score to put the nail on the coffin, a five-yard touchdown rush for Langford to make it 35-11.