Michigan blew its chance to beat Michigan State in unbelievable fashion.
With a 23-21 lead and 10 seconds remaining, all Michigan punter Blake O’Neill had to do was get a punt off in order to seal the deal. Instead, he dropped a snap that was a bit low and tried to get the punt off under heavy pressure, but the ball popped into the arms of Michigan State defensive back Jalen Watts-Jackson.
Watts-Jackson (who broke his hip on the play) then returned the improbable fumble 38 yards for a touchdown as time expired to give the Spartans a dramatic 27-23 victory.
Here’s how it all went down:
This really just happened. Unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/59ut12F1W7— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) October 17, 2015
The Wolverines were mere seconds away from winning their sixth straight ballgame to move up even higher in the rankings and to the top of the Big Ten East. Instead, Michigan State remains undefeated at 7-0 to keep its College Football Playoff chances alive and well.
The wacky finish was a heartbreaking turn of events for a Michigan team that led for nearly the entire game.
After the first quarter finished scoreless, the Wolverines got on the board first on a short Sione Houma touchdown run. The Spartans quickly responded and tied things up on an 11-yard touchdown run from L.J. Scott that snapped a streak of 14 straight quarters without allowing a point for the Wolverines defense.
Michigan's Kenny Allen then tacked on a 38-yard field goal to give UM a 10-7 halftime lead.
Michigan State opened the second half with possession, but didn't do much with the ball. But instead of punting it away, Mark Dantonio rolled the dice and called for a fake punt – an attempt that failed.
Michigan State's fake punt comes up juuuuuust short pic.twitter.com/hmGr9DolLA— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) October 17, 2015
That risky play gave the Wolverines great field position. Six plays later, Houma was in the end zone against to increase the UM lead to 17-7.
Michigan State could not get anything going against a swarming Wolverines defense, so on its next drive, MSU let Connor Cook air it out. It worked. Cook completed passes of 13, 27 and 30 yards, the third of which went for a touchdown to Macgarrett Kings Jr. to quickly cut the lead to 17-14.
Michigan's offense had quite a few chances to build on its lead but settled for Allen field goals of 21 and 38 yards instead, increasing its lead to 23-14 with 9:25 to play.
At that point, it looked like Cook would need to engineer another big drive to get the Spartans back in it, but the Wolverines allowed a rare big play. This time, rarely-used Michigan State fullback Trevon Pendleton snuck out the backfield and Cook found him for a huge 74-yard gain down to the one-yard line. Scott punched it in on the next play and all of a sudden the Spartans were down just two, 23-21, with 8:56 to play.
The teams traded three punts after Scott's touchdown, giving the Spartans a chance to take a lead. However, after advancing into UM territory, the Spartans turned it over on downs with 1:47 to play.
Michigan State had just one timeout remaining, so Michigan was able to run the clock down to 10 seconds with three straight runs. It looked like the Wolverines had it in the bag, but that set up O'Neill's muffed snap and the heroics of Watts-Jackson.
For more Michigan news, visit TheWolverine.com.
For more Michigan State news, visit SpartanMag.com.
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