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