“Little brother” rose up on Saturday and punched big brother right in the mouth. The Michigan State Spartans took it to the rival Michigan Wolverines and dominated one of the hottest offensive teams in the Big Ten. Michigan State came in with the best statistical defense in the country and they played like it on Saturday in a dominant effort in East Lansing, winning 29-6 and taking control of the division race on the way to a berth in the Big Ten title game.
The Spartans’ defense was as dominant as any unit in the country this season against Michigan on Saturday. Just one week after the Wolverines’ set a school record for offensive production against the Indiana Hoosiers, Devin Gardner and company were stuffed by MSU. The Wolverines managed just 12 first downs in the game and went just 2-for-14 on third downs. Perhaps most shocking, however, was the Wolverines’ negative-48 yards rushing on the day. They didn’t have a run longer than nine yards on the day and Gardner tallied negative-46 yards himself as the Spartans’ D swarmed him under all day long.
Coming into the game, it appeared to be a matchup of strength against strength with the Michigan offense and Michigan State defense going head to head. But it was the Spartans’ nation-leading defense who flexed their muscle and gave their offense, which came in as one of the more anemic offensive producers in the Big Ten, time to crack the defense of the Wolverines and pull away in the second half.
With the win, MSU tightens their grip on the Legends Division race and can wrap it up next week against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. If their defense keeps playing like they did on Saturday, you can pretty much punch their ticket to Indianapolis for the conference title game.