Michigan State batters Michigan 29-6
Spartans have won five of the last six meetings
Little brother has grown into a merciless terror.
Labeled as the University of Michigan's little brother when the Wolverines dominated their matchups, Michigan State has completely turned around its in-state football rivalry.
The Big Ten Legends Division-leading Spartans (8-1, 5-0) have now won five of the last six meetings, including a 29-6 thumping on Saturday.
Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook passed for a touchdown and ran for another, and the top-ranked Michigan State defense recorded seven sacks against Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner as the No. 22 Spartans manhandled No. 21 Michigan.
Michigan State's third consecutive victory over the Wolverines at Spartan Stadium was a school first.
"When we get on the field, it's us versus them," said Spartans linebacker Denicos Allen, who had two sacks. "You can call us what you want -- little brother, big brother -- but when it's on the field, we show who's the big brother and who's the little brother."
Gardner passed for 210 yards, but had a pass intercepted and was under constant pressure throughout as Michigan (6-2, 2-2) had minus-48 yards rushing. The team with the most rushing yards has won 41 of the last 44 meetings.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke wouldn't concede the Spartans' program is superior at this point.
"We've got to keep working. I don't think there is a gap," he said. "I think they played awfully well and executed awfully well. I don't think we did."
The Spartans were ranked No. 1 in the FBS in total defense at 215.5 yards per game and rushing defense at 54.9 yards per game coming into the game.
That unit continued to dominate, shutting down the Wolverines, who scored 40 or more points in five of their first seven games.
"We definitely felt the frustration coming from them," Allen said. "Every time Gardner would get hit, he would get up with this look of frustration and doubt. That's what we went into the game planning on doing."
The Spartans offense picked up steam as the game wore on. Cook passed for 252 yards, while Jeremy Langford rushed for 120 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown.
Michael Geiger's 35-yard field goal capped Michigan State's opening possession of the second half for a 16-6 lead. Cook threw an interception but the Spartans ended the quarter with two more sacks against Gardner.
"It feels good any time you can pressure the quarterback like we did," linebacker Max Bullough said. "You talk about how it's a physical beatdown out here and anyone watching the game or in that game would agree. That's a complete game for us."
A 68-yard Spartans drive early in the fourth quarter, capped by Cook's one-yard scoring run, made it 22-6 but the extra point was blocked.
Langford put on the finishing touches with his 40-yard touchdown.
Cook guided the Spartans on a 75-yard scoring drive late in the first half, which gave them a 13-6 halftime lead.
Cook connected with Bennie Fowler, who dropped a potential touchdown pass earlier in the quarter, in the right corner of the end zone for a 14-yard score with 23 seconds remaining.
Shilique Calhoun and Ed Davis spearheaded Michigan State's ferocious pass rush, which recorded five first-half sacks against Gardner. Calhoun had 2 1/2 sacks and Davis supplied two of his 2 1/2 sacks by halftime as the Wolverines had minus-41 yards rushing.
"He got pounded a little bit, and he was a warrior out there that last drive before the interception at the end, and did a nice job getting us down the field," Hoke said of Gardner. "He had taken a lot of shots earlier in the game, and he's a little bit worn out."
Michigan struck first with Matt Wile's 49-yard field goal, but the Spartans answered with field goals of 40 and 44 yards from Geiger.
Gardner's 58-yard pass to Jehu Chesson set up Brandon Gibbons' 39-yard field goal, which bounced off the right goalpost and over the crossbar to make it 6-6.
NOTES: Bennie Fowler of Michigan State caught six passes for 75 yards. ... Jeremy Langford has four consecutive 100-yard rushing games for the Spartans. ... Both teams were ranked entering the game for the 16th time in 106 meetings. The Spartans were 8-6-1 in those previous matchups. ... Michigan was 3-0 under Hoke coming off a bye, outscoring the opposition, 122-40, in those games. ... Michigan's Jeremy Gallon has a reception in 34 consecutive games. ... Michigan State wore all-green uniforms for the first time since Mark Dantonio became coach before the 2007 season.
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