Michigan State 37, Michigan 33

Michigan State 37, Michigan 33

October 31, 2021
Aidan Hutchinson (image via Wolverines Wire)

Do more. Say less. I’m pulling out the phrase from John Beilein’s basketball team from several years ago, but there’s a mentality permeating Michigan that Michigan State is the “little brother” and they’re a giant mess. I see this happening on Twitter, among parents, among former players, among Michigan-centric radio personalities, etc. You absolutely will not find it here. I don’t think Michigan’s players took the opponent lightly – they played hard – but I don’t know if Michigan’s 50/50 fortunes against MSU are going to change until the Spartans program gets more respect. I know a lot of people love him, but I hated when then running back (and current running backs coach) Mike Hart disrespected the Spartans in 2007 by calling them “little brother.” (Of course, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio’s response was equally childish if not more so, considering he was in his 40’s or 50’s at the time.) The rivalry has not been the same since then, and I really do think that comment was more significant than what some want to admit.

Hit the jump for more.

Good game, Cade McNamara. Starting quarterback Cade McNamara had been under some pressure to perform at a high level, and he posted his third-highest passer efficiency rating of the season. The top performance was against MAC team Western Michigan, the second best was against MAC team Northern Illinois, and the third best was against the #8-ranked Michigan State Spartans. He averaged 8.7 yards per attempt, completed 63.6% of his passes, and threw for a career-high 383 yards. He consistently made solid reads and kept the ball out of harm’s way until Michigan’s second-to-last drive when he threw an interception.

Good game, Andrel Anthony. Freshman receiver Andrel Anthony had himself what might be a career-best game in his freshman season. Playing in his hometown of East Lansing, he caught 6 passes for 155 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 93-yarder.

Good game, Josh Gattis. Last week I was hard on Josh Gattis’s game preparation, but I have to say he pulled out some good play calls this week. He schemed guys open in the secondary and tried a variety of run schemes. Unfortunately, Michigan’s offensive line is not as good as some people think, so the running game was not very productive. McNamara did miss an open Andrel Anthony on a flea flicker, and Cornelius Johnson had a couple uncharacteristic drops, but overall, I thought Gattis called a good game. (NOTE: I do think they should and have been waiting for Michigan to break out some more outside zone from the pistol formation, but I guess that’s not going to be a thing this year.)

Mike Macdonald has no tendencies, right? I got really annoyed earlier this season when Michigan was playing good defense and Michigan fans were all like “Mike Macdonald has no tendencies! Don Brown sucked because he had tendencies!” and I was all like “You just don’t know him that well yet.” To be fair, I didn’t know Macdonald, either. He had never been a coordinator, so how could anyone know? But now that we’re two-thirds of the way through the season, you’re finding something out about Macdonald. First of all, his defense does not handle misdirection well. They can be fooled with well designed plays, just like they were against Nebraska, Northwestern, and now MSU with Jalen Nailor running wild and free in the secondary. Second, Macdonald will send in a whole new group of defensive linemen when the opponent doesn’t substitute, and that bit Michigan in the proverbial ass, leading to a couple illegal substitution penalties and a touchdown.

Finally, the officiating. I wanted to put this closer to the top of the article, but I hate it when fans come out of a game and blame the officials for a loss. Michigan did a lot of things to ruin their own chance of winning. That being said, the officiating – particularly the replay officials – did a terrible job in this game. I posted this on Twitter last night, but I had to watch the game on DVR and after the second replay that went against Michigan, I said, “Okay, I know how this is going to go. This is going to be one of those games where every single review goes in favor of Michigan State.” And…ummm…yeah, that’s exactly what happened.

  • Kenneth Walker III scored a TD on the field but may have fumbled (LET IT STAND!)
  • David Ojabo forced a fumble recovered by Aidan Hutchinson for a TD (REVERSED!)
  • Jayden Reed caught a ball off the ground but it was ruled incomplete on the field (REVERSED!)
  • Kenneth Walker III scored a TD that might not have crossed the goal line (LET IT STAND!)
  • Chester Kimbrough booted for targeting (REVERSED!)

This is pass interference on either one of MSU’s defensive backs, either for running into Johnson or for wrapping an arm around Johnson:

This may or may not have been a fumble:

This should have been a touchdown:

I’m sure Michigan State fans can parse a few plays that they think should have been holding or pass interference or something, but these were game-changing plays that the officials either flat-out got wrong or at least erred on the side if Michigan State. One would think that at least one 50/50 play would go in Michigan’s favor, but I guess not.

You can’t leave it to the officials to win the game. Cornelius Johnson needs to catch the damn ball. Mike Macdonald needs to learn when not to substitute. Michigan’s safeties need to learn how to cover. Jim Harbaugh needs to learn how to call a timeout. The offensive line needs to figure out how to block in the run game. The offensive coordinator needs to learn how to call/design outside run plays.

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