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Saturday, May 18, 2024
Michigan's loss to Michigan State has opened up the Big Ten East division race.

Michigan's loss to Michigan State has opened up the Big Ten East division race.

Wolverines' loss alters Big Ten East division race

Week six of Big Ten football season was filled with action as the Wisconsin Badgers broke away from the Nebraska Cornhuskers on the road to win, 38-17. In other news, Iowa’s big second half downed Illinois, 45-16. No. 10 Ohio State dominated Maryland, 62-14 and No. 4 Penn State throttled Northwestern on the road 31-7. Here is a more in-depth look at a few of the more exciting Big Ten games of the week.

Michigan Gets the Ax at Home, Paul Bunyan Trophy Returns to East Lansing

Defense wins championships. Defense wins big games. Defense is what propelled Mark Dantonio’s Michigan State Spartans over in-state rival and No. 7 Michigan Wolverines, as the Spartans beat the Wolverines for the eighth time in the last 10 meetings.

The Wolverines came in as 12.5-point favorites at home in spite of the absence of injured quarterback, Wilton Speight, but under the leadership of backup quarterback John O’Korn found themselves completely overwhelmed by the Michigan State defense.

After taking a 3-0 lead to start the game, the Wolverines never led again. Sparked by a Ty Isaac fumble caused by the Michigan State defense, the Spartans got into the flow of the game. With three minutes left in the first quarter, Spartan quarterback Brian Lewerke scrambled out of the pocket and scampered 14 yards into the end zone, putting Michigan State on the board.

Then after a 16-yard Brian Lewerke touchdown pass to wide receiver, the Spartans took a 14-3 lead into the locker room.

The second half became a defensive struggle due to poor weather conditions as neither team could generate much offense. A Khalil Hill goal-line rush up the middle closed the gap for the Wolverines to 14-10, but it was not enough in end.

Whenever it looked like the Michigan offense was gaining traction, the Spartans’ defense had an answer. A combination of an effective pass rush coupled with great coverage downfield frazzled O’Korn, as he threw not one, but three second half interceptions.

A last-ditch John O’Korn hail-mary heave for the win was batted down by Spartan defenders, completing the improbable upset.

The takeaway? Michigan’s offense looked frail, to be diplomatic, in the absence of Wilton Speight. Head coach Jim Harbaugh needs to come up with some action-plan to revive his offense. Harbaugh has shown over his tenure in Ann Arbor that his Wolverines do not perform in rivalry games. Michigan is 1-2 against the Spartans and 0-2 versus out-of-state rival Ohio State under his command. The Wolverines are sure to drop in the polls and must look to win-out if they have any hopes of rejoining the College Football Playoff conversation.

As for Michigan State? Was last year just an anomaly, or has the rebuilding process been accelerated in East Lansing? Now at 4-1, the Spartans look to gain traction in the Big Ten East. Most importantly, however, the Spartans reclaimed the coveted Paul Bunyan trophy and brought it back home.

Even In Extreme Weather Conditions, Purdue Pulls out Victory

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With heavy rain and lightning entering the West Lafayette area, the contest between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Minnesota Golden Gophers was put on hold. After a 90-minute delay, play resumed with Boilermakers seemingly finding themselves.

The Boilermakers’ offense looked out of sync for most of the night, coughing up four turnovers. But a 19-yard field goal by J.D. Bellinger put the Boilermakers up 16-14 before the weather delay.

A seven-minute drive by the Gophers coming out of the delay resulted in an Emmit Carpenter field goal and 17-14 lead. Purdue wasted no time responding, however. A 12-yard touchdown run by Markell Jones and successful two-point conversion put the Boilermakers up 24-17 with less than 1:30 left in the game. A Ja’Whaun Bentley pick-six iced the game at 31-17.

Purdue improves to 3-2 and has looked like a different team under first year head coach Jeff Brohm, as it was able to honor the passing of the winningest head-coach in program history, Joe Tiller. The Boilermakers head to Madison next week to play Wisconsin.

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