FQ/CFBHome Team of the Week: Week 9, 2021 — Michigan State

by Mike Ferguson

Photo courtesy of Michigan State athletics

There was one top-10 matchup this week.

In an in-state contest, Michigan State got the best of rival Michigan, 37-33. The Spartans made a furious rally to steal the victory at Spartan Stadium.

As a result, Michigan State earns this week’s distinction of Fifth Quarter/CFBHome Team of the Week. This marks the third straight week that a Big Ten school takes home the honor.

What a Rally

Things looked bleak for No. 8 Michigan State midway through the third quarter. After a 54-yard touchdown drive, the sixth-ranked Wolverines had scored 17 straight points and held a 30-14 lead.

All Michigan would manage the rest of the way would be a field goal.

Running back Kenneth Walker III capped the ensuing drive with a short touchdown run before adding a 58-yard scoring scamper early in the fourth quarter. Each touchdown was followed by a successful 2-point conversion. Quarterback Payton Thorne found Tre Mosley and Jayden Reed on those conversions.

With the score knotted 30-30, Michigan took its final lead with 9:20 to play on a 36-yard field goal by Jake Moody. Michigan State went 3-and-out on the ensuing possession, but a fumble by Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy set the Spartans up with a short field.

Walker capped the 41-yard scoring drive with a 23-yard touchdown run to put the Spartans back in front. The Michigan State defense did the rest.

After turning the Wolverines away on fourth down with less than two minutes to play, Charles Brantley’s interception of Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara sealed the victory.

Walker Runs Wild

Statistically, Michigan dominated with 552 yards to 395 for the Spartans. The Wolverines however, had no answer for Walker.

Walker finished the day with 197 yards rushing on 23 carries and scored all five Michigan State touchdowns. Defensively, Quavaris Crouch, Darius Snow and Cal Haladay combined for 33 tackles for Michigan State.

McNamara passed for 383 yards and two touchdowns for Michigan in the loss. Michigan’s Andrel Anthony finished with 155 yards receiving and two touchdowns to lead all receivers.

Spartans Own the Wolverine State

Saturday’s contest in East Lansing marked the first time since the 1960s that both teams were ranked in the top 10 for the annual meeting. It was also Michigan State’s second straight thrilling win in the rivalry.

Last season, the Spartans held off the Wolverines, 27-24. Michigan State has now won six of the last nine in the series. Head coach Mel Tucker is the first Michigan State head coach ever to beat Michigan in each of his first two tries.

Up Next

Following the victory, Michigan State moved up three spots in the AP Poll to No. 5. It marks the first time that Michigan State sits in the top five since 2015 when it reached the College Football Playoff.

At 8-0, Michigan State will try to stay there as it visits Purdue on Saturday. The Boilermakers knocked off No. 2 Iowa earlier in the season. That contest begins at 3:30 p.m. ET and airs on ABC.

Michigan fell from No. 6 to No. 9 with the heartbreaking loss. The Wolverines will host Indiana this week.

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

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