Saturday, November 16, 2019

Blinded (When I See You)

Donovan played the hits, and the people were happy.  (Photo by Patrick Barron)
Let's be clear.  When Michigan State went up 7-0 in the first quarter, all of the old narratives were settling in.  Michigan was taking bad penalties to extend Spartan drives, Michigan was not covering short and intermediate routes and Brian Lewerke looked like he had one more game in him to screw things up for Michigan.

But Michigan answered on the next drive, even if it took to just past the quarter break.  Michigan State extended the drive with a personal foul, and getting back to even at 7-7 was a solid reset.

So when Aidan Hutchinson got an unsportsmanlike penalty, the teeter was tottered by Michigan State earning a pair of unsportsmanlike penalties (on the same play!) turning a twenty yard gain into a ten-yard loss on the play, and eventually leading to a Michigan State punt that would be downed at the two-yard line.

3 yards, incomplete, 8 yards, 3 yards, 15 yards, 14 yards, 6 yards, 5 yards, incomplete but DPI so 15 yards, -3 yards, 5 yards-touchdown.  98 yards in 12 plays with just one (non-penalty) incompletion and one negative play.  That drive was a Michigan team playing within itself, spreading the ball around (Haskins, DPJ, Charbonnet, Patterson keeper, Bell, Bell again, Charbonnet, Sanistril, Nico targeted, Haskins, and then Eubanks, eight different Michigan players moved the ball on the drive.)

So you could be forgiven, going into the half with Michigan up 17-7 for thinking "We're letting them hang around.  No good can come of this."  They could be forgiven for worrying, up 27-10 as Michigan State lined up for a critical fourth and 1 at their own 45 that this thing was not over yet.

And then one of the most remarkable three-play sequences in the history of this rivalry left no doubt.  First, Michigan's defense drew a false start, allegedly using the "MOVE" play that Don Brown is so fond of using.  Then, Michigan State, deciding that they need to punt on the 4th and 6, fell prey to Khaleke Hudson's sixth career punt block/deflection, giving Michigan the ball on the MSU 22.  One snap later, Shea found Nico Collins on the goal line and the entire stadium could sense the rout was on.

But all of this pales in comparison to the fiesta of penalties.  This from the same crew that called OSU 2016.  Here now, a list, in order:
  • False Start - Michigan
  • DPI - Michigan [cough]
  • Offsides - Michigan
  • Personal Foul - Michigan State
  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct - Michigan
  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct - Michigan State
  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct - Michigan State (on the same play!)
  • DPI - Michigan State #chuckittoNico
  • Roughing the Passer - Michigan (on the same play as a defensive holding, Michigan and a DPI, Michigan.)
  • 12 Men in the Defensive Formation - Michigan
  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct - Michigan (flexing is now a crime)
  • Intentional Grounding - Michigan (because Shea was the second player to pass the ball)
  • False Start - Michigan State
  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct - Michigan State (a flagrant!)
  • Sideline Interference - Michigan
  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct - Michigan State (by the brother of the flagrant!)
  • Personal Foul - Michigan State
(This doesn't even count Giles Jackson nearly costing Michigan 30 yards on a kickoff that went out of bounds because he almost touched it before it went out.)

The Battle for Bunyan is always a chippy affair, so it's understandable that Michigan was happy to see it over and done with a comfortable win.  It may be the last stand of Mark Dantonio as Michigan State's coach, that remains to be seen.  But Michigan's won three of the last four in the series.  It's not quite back to "just like old times" but Paul's staying home and has fancy new pants.  We'll take it.

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