No. 8 Michigan St tops No. 6 Michigan 37-33

Sports

Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III, left, dives over the goal line for a touchdown against Michigan’s DJ Turner during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Kenneth Walker rushed for 197 yards and five touchdowns, helping No. 8 Michigan State top No. 6 Michigan 37-33 for a thrilling comeback win on Saturday.

The Spartans (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) trailed by nine at halftime and 30-14 with 6:47 left in the third quarter before Walker boosted his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy.

Walker’s fifth touchdown — a 23-yard run — lifted the Spartans to a 37-33 lead with 5:08 remaining.

The Wolverines (7-1, 4-1) forced a final punt and had the ball at their 33 with 1:15 and no timeouts left.

After a roughing-the-passer penalty gave them the ball at midfield, Michigan State cornerback Charles Brantley sealed the victory by picking off a floating pass from Cade McNamara.

McNamara threw for 383 yards and two touchdowns, but his interception was costly, as was freshman quarterback J.J. McCarthy’s lost fumble in the fourth quarter.

The rivals were on the same field with 7-0 or better records for the first time, matching up as top-10 teams for the first time since 1964.

Michigan State’s win puts the program in contention for the Big Ten conference championship and potentially a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Michigan’s loss leaves Jim Harbaugh with a 3-4 record against Michigan State as a coach, putting even more pressure on him to get a win against No. 5 Ohio State next month.

The Wolverines led 23-14 after an entertaining first half.

McNamara got Michigan off to a fast start with a 93-yard touchdown pass to former East Lansing High School star Andrel Anthony, three snaps after Payton Thorne ended the opening drive of the game with an up-for-grabs ball that was intercepted.

After Thorne’s second interception, the Wolverines settled for the first of four Jake Moody field goals and a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Walker bounced a run to the outside, finding a hole to sprint through for a 27-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.

After Moody connected from 38 yards, Michigan State coach Mel Tucker went for it on fourth-and-1 near midfield and Thorne’s play-action pass to Jalen Nailor set up Walker’s 8-yard TD run and a 14-13 lead.

Anthony caught a 17-yard TD pass and Moody kicked a 35-yarder in the final seconds of the first half, sending the Wolverines into the locker room with some momentum.

McNamara tacked on another TD pass in the third, finding Mike Sainristil for a 19-yarder that made it 30-14 with 6:47 left.

Michigan State, which had a fumble in the second quarter overturned by replay, had two reviews go in its favor on the next drive.

Tucker took advantage, going for it again on fourth down as Thorne threw a 28-yard pass to Jayden Reed to set up Walker’s third touchdown. Thorne threw a 2-point conversion pass to pull the Spartans within eight points late in the third.

Michigan State was 0 for 7 on third down until converting three straight on one drive, including Walker’s 58-yard touchdown run. Thorne’s 2-point conversion pass made it 30-all.

The Wolverines were forced to settle for another field goal on the ensuing drive, taking a three-point lead early in the fourth.

THE TAKEAWAY

Michigan: Michigan’s running game was slowed down. The Wolverines were averaging 253.3 yards rushing, ranking No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 5 in FBS, entering the game. Hassan Haskins was held to 59 yards on 14 carries and Blake Corum had just 45 yards rushing on 13 carries.

Michigan State: Tucker has turned the program around with an influx of transfers, including Walker, a former Wake Forest player, and he has a ton of momentum with an 8-0 record this year and a 2-0 mark against Michigan.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Michigan State and Michigan may flip spots in the AP Top 25 after living up to the hype with a closely contested game.

UP NEXT

Michigan: Hosts Indiana.

Michigan State: Plays at Purdue.

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