No. 23 Michigan tops Michigan State 12-10 on FG

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio pulled another play out of

his bag of tricks at just the right time.

It was nearly enough to help his team win.

Dantonio, who called a fake field goal in overtime to beat Notre

Dame two years ago, completely fooled No. 23 Michigan with a fake

punt deep in his own territory that set up a go-ahead field goal

with 5:48 left on Saturday.

But after the Spartans failed to run out the clock on their last

drive, Brendan Gibbons made a 38-yard field goal with 5 seconds

remaining to lift Michigan to a 12-10 victory.

The Wolverines (5-2, 3-0 Big Ten) beat Michigan State (4-4, 1-3)

for the first time since 2007 to avoid a school-record, five-game

losing streak in the series.

”It was a tough game, a classic game,” Dantonio said. ”I’m

proud of our team. I can live with it. I don’t like it, but it’s

all you can ask sometimes.”

Denard Robinson threw a 20-yard pass to Drew Dileo to set up the

game-winning kick and then couldn’t watch when Gibbons lined it

up.

”I just took a knee and prayed,” Robinson said.

It was the 900th victory for Michigan, college football’s

winningest program.

And this was perhaps the sweetest – rivaling a victory over

Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl – since the Wolverines snapped a

school-record, seven-game skid against Ohio State last season.

”This program was in desperate need for a win in this game,”

safety Jordan Kovacs acknowledged.

The Spartans needed one, too, to turn around a once-promising

season that has slipped away with four losses in six games since

they were ranked No. 10 in The Associated Press poll.

”Right now, it’s a nasty feeling in your stomach,” offensive

guard Chris McDonald said.

Robinson, who had been shut down in his two previous starts

against the Spartans, made just enough plays with his feet and

right arm to help Michigan win in the senior’s final game of the

rivalry.

”I’m glad he’s gone,” Dantonio said with a smile.

Michigan State’s much-maligned quarterback, Andrew Maxwell,

played relatively well, but he threw an interception to Kovacs that

helped the Wolverines take a 9-7 lead early in the fourth

quarter.

Maxwell was 21 of 34 for 192 yards with a TD – a 2-yard toss to

Paul Lang – that put the Spartans up 7-6 midway through the third

quarter. Those were the first points Michigan’s improving defense

gave up in six quarters and the first TD in eight quarters.

Le’Veon Bell, who was averaging 131 yards rushing a game, had

just 68 yards on 26 carries and gained no more than 8 on any

attempts against a defense designed to stop him.

The Spartans still had a shot to win five straight in the series

for the first time.

”It’s a heartbreak,” Maxwell said.

The Spartans didn’t break through Michigan’s defense much, but a

gutsy call helped them have a chance to win.

Punter Mike Sadler took a snap from his 23 on fourth-and-9 and

ran to the right – all alone – toward Michigan’s stunned sideline

on a 26-yard gain that set up a go-ahead field goal.

”That got them in the game, but I told the defense, `Let’s keep

them to a field goal and good things can happen for us,”’

Wolverines coach Brady Hoke said.

Michigan did just that, thanks in large part to safety Thomas

Gordon, who broke up a pass in the end zone. The Wolverines stopped

Bell at the 1 on third down to set up Dan Conroy’s go-ahead field

goal.

But that wasn’t enough to give the Spartans a school-record

fifth straight win in a series they’ve been on the short end of

most of the time for more than 100 years.

Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/larrylage