With two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Shea Patterson dropped back and did something neither team had been able to do for nearly 43 minutes ? completed a big offensive play.
He fired a perfect pass to sophomore wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who streaked 79 yards down the right sideline to break a 7-7 deadlock and put Michigan up 14-7.
From there, the Wolverines? offense began to find some momentum, scoring two more touchdowns to leave East Lansing with a 21-7 victory. Sophomore fullback Ben Mason punched in the next touchdown but even on a frustrating offensive day, Patterson was Michigan?s difference maker.
He set up Mason?s touchdown with back-to-back quarterback keepers, including one to convert a fourth down. More importantly, his touchdown pass to Peoples-Jones finally opened the door for the Wolverines after nearly two quarters of offensive incompetence.
As usual, though, Michigan?s defense spurred it to victory for the majority of the game. The Wolverines? first touchdown came on a pass from Patterson to sophomore wide receiver Nico Collins on the first play of the second quarter. Their next nine drives ended with six punts, a missed field goal, and two fumbles as rain and wind battered Spartan Stadium.
As its offense struggled, the Michigan defense proved heroic. It only forced one turnover?a fumble sandwiched between the offense?s two fumbles but it held the Spartans to virtually nothing offensively.
Michigan State?s only touchdown came off a fumble inside the 10-yard line as its offense gained just three first downs on ten possessions in between the Wolverines? first two touchdowns.
Quarterback Brian Lewerke was held to just 66 yards on a 5-25 day through the air, while the Spartans? usually-strong run game only gained 30 yards. In a common theme for Michigan this season, the few threats its defense did allow were self-induced through its eight penalties.
Fittingly, consecutive sacks on backup quarterback Rocky Lombardi sealed the Wolverines? victory as Michigan State?s last drive of the game ended the same way as nearly every one before it ? in frustration for the Spartans.
For almost three quarters, Michigan was stymied like it has been so often in this rivalry in recent years.
But thanks to its quarterback and defense, it was able to flip the script and put Michigan State to bed in the fourth quarter, filling Spartan Stadium with chants of ?Let?s Go Blue? and steamrolling into its November 3 showdown with Penn State at 7-1.