Nebraska ended Michigan State’s unbeaten season and dealt their playoff hopes a crushing blow with a shocking 39-38 come-from-behind victory on Saturday night, and they may have received some help from the referees on the game-winning touchdown.
Brandon Reilly’s 30 yard touchdown reception with 17 seconds left put Nebraska on top, but the receiver clearly stepped out of bounds before making the catch. The question was whether he stepped out on his own or was forced out by a Michigan State defensive back.
It’s hard to see, but replay doesn’t seem to indicate that Reilly was pushed out. Nevertheless, the referees ruled that he was, and the touchdown was allowed to stand.
Michigan State can blame the refs, but they also have to point a finger at themselves. They led 38-26 with four minutes left and allowed the Cornhuskers to go 91 yards in the final minute for the game-winning score. The Spartans have played with fire all season and gotten away with it. Without improvement, it was always going to bite them at some point.
We can only imagine how many people turned off Saturday night’s game between Michigan and Michigan State assuming that the Wolverines held on for a close victory. It sounds like the folks from at least one news network in Michigan were among them.
After the Spartans won on one of the most insane plays you will ever see, Jamal Spencer of WZZM in Grand Rapids gave a full report describing ecstatic Wolverines fans exiting The Big House.
“Michigan coming up with a crucial stop and they were able to run out the clock,” Spencer said. “People were spilling out of Michigan Stadium into the streets of Ann Arbor celebrating, as the Paul Bunyan trophy is back in Ann Arbor for the first time since 2012.”
Spencer later owned the embarrassing mistake:
Not the first time I've made a mistake in my career and it won't be the last. Gotta take the bad with the good https://t.co/N4vxwJRgyM
— Jamal Spencer (@JamalWZZM13) October 18, 2015
In Spencer’s defense, a reporter at WZZM’s headquarters later came on the air and said that was “our mistake” and described the actual ending of the game, so it sounds like he was fed the bad information. Heck, even Michigan State’s equipment staff had given up to the point where they neglected some of their duties. It was just one of those nights.
Video via Complex Sports
More great stories continue to emerge from Michigan State’s wild win over Michigan on Saturday.
The two teams annually contest the Paul Bunyan Trophy, which goes to the winner of the Spartans/Wolverines game. As winners last year, Michigan State still held the trophy. With the Spartans down 23-21 and defeat looking all but certain, the Michigan State equipment staff took the trophy and dropped it off at the Michigan locker room before the final play of the game, as shown in a photo tweeted by The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb.
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) October 18, 2015
Of course, we all know what happened next. Michigan flubbed the punt, the Spartans scored a miracle touchdown, and someone had to go hustle and bring Paul Bunyan back to the Spartan side. It ain’t over ’till it’s over, after all.
H/T Detroit News
With just seconds remaining in regulation, it looked for all the world like Michigan was going to beat in-state rivals Michigan State on Saturday. Unfortunately, that was long enough for things to go horribly wrong for the Wolverines.
Nursing a 23-21 lead with ten seconds left in the fourth quarter, Blake O’Neill was on to punt with the ball on Michigan State’s 47-yard line looking to pin the Spartans deep in their own territory. That would have forced Michigan State to need a miracle to claim a victory.
O’Neill had trouble handling the snap and never gained control of the football, which found its way into the hands of Jalen Watts-Jackson. The sophomore scampered 38-yards the other way for a Michigan State touchdown with the game clock showing all zeroes.
— Will Reeve (@WillReeveJr) October 17, 2015
And just like that, the Spartans stay perfect at 7-0 and defeat the Wolverines for the third consecutive year and seventh time in the last eight meetings. For Michigan, that’s about as heartbreaking a loss as you can suffer considering how it happened and who the opponent was.
Michigan fans are hungry for a win against their in-state rival this weekend, and at least one of them has seemingly decided to take it out on Magic Johnson.
On Thursday morning, a Michigan State student shared a photo that showed Johnson’s statue on the MSU campus has been vandalized.
So disrespectful. pic.twitter.com/zkraUAsfxu
— Alvin Ellis (@AEllisIII) October 15, 2015
Michigan State was expected to be better than Michigan this season, but the teams appear to be evenly matched heading into a huge game on Saturday. You can understand fans and students being fired up, but that crosses the line.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we have seen vandalism on campus in advance of the MSU-Michigan game. Spartans fans were responsible for some spray-painting of their own in Ann Arbor last year. I’m sure 2016 will bring more of the same.
H/T The Big Lead
Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has reportedly emerged as the leading candidate for the Pittsburgh head coaching job.
According to Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports, Narduzzi interviewed for both the Pitt and Colorade State jobs but was more interested in Pitt. The 48-year-old is considered to be one of the top assistant coaches in the country and has interviewed for several head coaching positions in the past, including Connecticut, Louisville and Cincinnati.
As Forde notes, Narduzzi’s $900,000 salary this season made him the highest-paid coordinator in the Big Ten. KDKA’s Rich Walsh is reporting that Narduzzi could be introduced at Pitt within the next couple of days.
With Paul Chryst having suddenly left Pitt to take the Wisconsin job, the Panthers have no choice but to continue their revolving door of head coaches. Greg Schiano was also said to be interested in the job after athletic director Steve Pederson announced he is stepping down.
Michigan players planted a stake in the field at Spartan Stadium prior to their game against Michigan State Saturday, ticking off the Spartans players, and ultimately leading them to run up the score in their victory.
Michigan State won the game 35-11 and scored on a 5-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Langford with 28 seconds left rather than running out the clock for a 28-11 win. Not only did the touchdown help cover the 17-point spread, but it also rubbed in the win a little extra just to prove a point.
“It just felt like we needed to put a stake in them at that point,” head coach Mark Dantonio said about the extra touchdown.
“I can only be diplomatic for so long. The little brother stuff, all the disrespect, it didn’t have to go in that direction.
“We try to handle ourselves with composure. That doesn’t come from a coach. It comes from the program. Throwing the stake down in our backyard out here and coming out there like they’re all that. That got shoved up … It got shoved in the last minute and a half.”
The “little brother” stuff goes back to a comment former Michigan running back Mike Hart made in 2007 that ex-Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson has repeated multiple times.
Spartans quarterback Connor Cook, who went 12/22 for 227 yards and a touchdown, also commented after the game about the stake.
“They disrespected us right out of the gate,” Cook said. “We weren’t having that.”
The Spartans don’t need the respect of the Wolverines when they’ve clearly become the better program of late. The last-minute touchdown just solidifies that point.
Screenshot via @WorldofIsaac