for this game

Spartans hand Wolverines first loss for third straight year

Oct 15, 2011 - 11:32 PM East Lansing, MI (Sports Network) - For the third straight year Michigan entered its annual showdown against Michigan State undefeated. And for the third year in a row, the Wolverines left the field with their first loss.

Kirk Cousins threw a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes to Keshawn Martin to put Michigan State ahead and Isaiah Lewis added a 39-yard interception return for a score to thwart a late Michigan comeback, as the 23rd-ranked Spartans earned a 28-14 win over the 11th-ranked Wolverines.

It was the fourth straight win in the series for Michigan State, tying the longest streak for the Spartans (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) in the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy.

"It means a lot," Martin said. "Beating these guys four years in a row, we've never lost to them. Not many people can say that they did that. So I'm excited about it, and I'm going to enjoy this."

The Wolverines (6-1, 2-1) traveled to East Lansing this year after winning their first road game of the season last week, 42-24 over Northwestern, and hoped to reverse an ugly recent trend.

Michigan was 5-0 last year before a 34-17 loss to Michigan State ignited a string of six losses in eight games to end the season. In 2009, Michigan's 4-0 start was halted by a 26-20 overtime loss at Spartan Stadium and started a run of seven losses in eight games to close the campaign.

How the Wolverines respond this year under first-year head coach Brady Hoke is the next question.

Denard Robinson had trouble throwing and running for Michigan. The elusive quarterback entered the contest averaging 328.6 yards of offense per game, but managed only 165 on Saturday. He completed just 9-of-24 passes for 123 yards with a touchdown and an interception while rushing for just 42 yards on 18 attempts.

Robinson still had Michigan in position for a comeback in the fourth quarter. He threw a 34-yard pass to Roy Roundtree for a touchdown to pull the Wolverines within 21-14 with 9:49 to play and Michigan got the ball right back at the Michigan State 32 after Martin fumbled on the first play after the ensuing kickoff.

The Wolverines reached the Michigan State 23 and converted on 4th-and-1 with a Robinson five-yard carry. It was 4th-and-inches soon after at the nine and the Wolverines got cute. A play-fake ended in disaster when Johnny Adams came on a corner blitz and sacked the quarterback.

Still, Michigan State could not sustain a drive going against the wind and punted the ball back to Michigan with 4:40 to play. Robinson, though, saw another blitz coming straight at him and fired the ball directly to Lewis, who returned the interception 39 yards for the game-clinching score.

"He made some things happen and he always plays with a lot of energy," Hoke said of Robinson. "I don't know what he saw on the interception but I thought he held in there."

Michigan's last drive ended in a sack of backup quarterback Devin Gardner, who took over after Robinson left the field following a roughing the passer penalty, and the Spartans were able to run off the last 3:18.

It gave Michigan State its first four-game win streak over the hated Wolverines since 1959-62.

Michigan State started the second half with great field position at its own 46 after a short Michigan kickoff into the wind. Edwin Baker quickly put the Spartans across midfield with an 11-yard run and later broke loose for 25 yards to set up a first down at the seven. After a three-yard loss on first down and an incomplete pass into the end zone, Cousins hit Martin with a short pass along the sideline and the receiver managed to stretch the ball into the end zone before being knocked out of bounds for a 14-7 lead.

The Wolverines took their first possession of the second half to the Spartan 32, but a penalty pushed them back and they punted it away. Baker fumbled on the next Michigan State play after a 21-yard gain, giving the Wolverines the ball again at the Spartan 41. The Michigan State defense came up with a sack of Robinson on third down to force another punt.

Cousins then directed a 10-play, 61-yard drive for another touchdown. He hooked up with Martin for a 13-yard score to finish the march, as the receiver again took a short pass along the same sideline and reached the ball into the end zone before going out of bounds to make it 21-7.

Martin had just three catches for 31 yards and Cousins threw for 120 yards on 13-of-24 passing. Baker, though, had a big game on the ground for Michigan State, rushing for 167 yards with a touchdown on 26 carries.

Michigan took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards on 10 plays into a gusty wind for the game's first score. The Wolverines appeared stopped at the Michigan State 22 and set up for a 40-yard field goal, but instead ran a fake and holder Drew Dileo barely picked up the first down. Two plays later, Robinson scrambled 15 yards to the end zone.

It didn't take long for the Spartans to answer thanks to Baker, who carried five times for 49 yards on a nine-play, 63-yard scoring march. He capped the quick series with a one-yard run to make it 7-7 with just over five minutes left in the opening quarter.

Neither team managed a serious threat for the remainder of the half, although the Wolverines drove inside the Spartan 40 on three occasions. They were forced to punt each time.

Game Notes

Michigan State outrushed Michigan 213-82. The team with the most productive ground game has now won 39 of the last 42 meetings...Cousins has 21 wins as Michigan State's starting quarterback, tying Jeff Smoker (2000-03) for the most in school history...Michigan State also beat Michigan four straight times from 1934-37 and 1950-53. The Spartans had an unbeaten run of eight straight with a 6-0-2 mark against the Wolverines from 1956-63...No rookie Michigan coach has beaten Michigan State since Bennie Oosterbaan in 1948...Michigan still leads the all-time series, 67-32-5.