The ending of last year’s Michigan-Michigan State game was the craziest ending in college football in 2015. They meet for the first time since then, and the Mitten State will all be tuning in.
Second-ranked Michigan (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) meets Michigan State (2-5, 0-4 Big Ten) at noon ET in East Lansing on Saturday in the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy. The Spartans have won seven of the last eight games in the rivalry but come into this one as the overwhelming underdog for the first time since 2007, the same season that Michigan RB Mike Hart dubbed the Spartans as the Wolverines’ “little brother.”
The Wolverines lead the rivalry 68-35-5, but have lost the last three in the series. The last time the Wolverines beat the Spartans was 2012, winning in the Big House without scoring a touchdown. Despite the recent streak for the Spartans, the longest win streak of the series was 14 when Michigan won each game from 1916 to 1930.
Jim Harbaugh’s first game against Michigan State as Michigan head coach was spoiled by an ending we may never see again. With 10 seconds left on the clock and the Wolverines holding a 23-21 lead last season, Michigan punter Blake O’Neill fumbled the snap and Michigan State’s Jalen Watts-Jackson returned it for a touchdown with no time left to complete the Spartans’ 27-23 victory.
Having played at Michigan, Harbaugh is no stranger to this rivalry. Now he’s got redemption after last year’s miracle on his mind, as well. Here’s how to watch the battle for Paul Bunyan.
Michigan vs. Michigan State game time, details
Date: Saturday, Oct. 29
Time: Noon ET
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.
Weather: 67 and cloudy (it’s almost November)
The line: Michigan is a 24.5- point favorite
What TV channel is Michigan vs. Michigan State on?
The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.
How can I watch Michigan vs. Michigan State online?
You can watch the game on ESPN3.com, or with the WatchESPN app available on the App Store and Google Play store.
Who is calling the game?
Play-by-play by Bob Wischusen, analysis by Brock Huard and sideline reporting by Allison Williams.
Michigan vs. Michigan State keys to the game
Wilton Speight: Michigan State’s bottom-50 ranked pass defense should be exploited by the redshirt sophomore QB. With weapons like Jake Butt, Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, etc., it should be a huge day for Speight. If he is off, however, Michigan must go to the run game. And while the run game has been great in some games, the offense hasn’t faced a defensive line with a player near Malik McDowell’s level, or a linebacker as gruesome as Riley Bullough. Michigan should win this game, regardless of the amount it has to pass or run, but if the Wolverines want the blowout, it will come from the arm of Speight.
Containing the big play: According to teamrankings.com, Michigan State ranks No. 15 nationally in most yards per point at 17.7. That means when the Spartans score, it’s usually off of a big play. Michigan, meanwhile, almost always scores inside the 10-yard line (the Wolverines require the fewest yards per point in the nation at 9.9). Michigan’s defense its aggressiveness and high-risk-high-reward style. The Wolverines have given up the fewest total points nationally, but when giving up points, it’s on big plays. Just check out the UCF, Colorado and Illinois games. Against the Spartans, Michigan will have to avoid giving up that big play to guys like R.J. Shelton and Donnie Corley, because it’ll cost them in a rivalry game like this one.
Attack, attack, attack: This is a key to the game that everyone knows Michigan is going to do, regardless. On defense, the Wolverines blitz almost every play. But against this struggling Michigan State offensive line, they’ll have to attack until a white flag is up, because they have the personnel to put up 15 sacks on this Spartans’ offensive line. Michigan State’s offense ranks No. 84 in the country, averaging less than 400 yards a game. At home, the number is worse, just 335 per game.