The University of Michigan will likely re-evaluate their pregame smack talk and skywriting plans for next season after the beating they took in Spartan Stadium last weekend. Michigan State delivered one of their most-decisive wins in the last few seasons over in-state rival Michigan by a score of 29-6.
On Sunday, after the game, Dantonio talked about how he wanted to make sure he kept his players from taking part in the hype during the week before the game and wanted to make sure they instead tempered their ferocity for game time itself.
"Don't worry about all the things that are being said -- just keep your mouth shut," Dantonio said he told his players. "Get ready to play, start the game and finish stronger than when you started. We were going to let the lion out of the cage at 3:30, and that's what happened."
Indeed. The Spartans unleashed a defensive bashing over a disorganized Wolverines' offensive unit and recorded seven sacks on the day. The MSU defense also caused seven QB hurries, had 11 tackles for loss, and nabbed one interception. But perhaps most-impressive is the -48 rushing yards the Spartans held Michigan to.
Yes, you read that right: -48 rushing yards. That marks the lowest single-game total in University of Michigan football history. MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi was certainly proud of his squad when he spoke to the media after the game.
"We're going to bully people -- that's the game of football," Narduzzi said. "We didn't want any personal fouls -- we had one stupid one, I think on special teams at the end -- we talked really about not getting any penalties. ... They've got a good football team, but we've got a great football team."
MSU defensive captain and linebacker Max Bullough knows just how important his and his fellow player's role can be for the team on the whole.
"We're excited to play, we're excited to go out there," Bullough said about the defensive team's opportunities. "In those situations, they think they have the advantage. They think they're going to score, it's a momentum change for them. If we go out there and we stuff them, and we keep them out of even scoring a field goal, it's double. It takes away theirs and it gives us momentum."
While the Spartan defense was living up to its reputation as the top defense in the country, the offensive unit began to flourish in the second quarter and beyond under the command of quarterback Connor Cook. Cook was 18 for 33 for 252 yards with two touchdown passes. His favorite target was wide receiver Bennie Fowler, who recorded six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown.
As expected, with the wet and rainy weather, the ground game for either team was likely to make or break their efforts, and with the Wolverines unable to even break even on ground yardage, the Spartans had running back Jeremy Langford run for 120 yards on 26 carries, including a touchdown.
In the total offense column, MSU dominated by a margin of 394 yards to U-M's 168.
The Michigan State crowd was certainly going wild, but many of the Spartan players took a bow before the Paul Bunyan Trophy and prepared to mentally assess the rest of the successful season. After the win, it seems MSU is a lock to win the Legends Division this season, making that two out of the last three seasons, and primed to meet Ohio State down in Indianapolis on Dec. 7 for the Big Ten Championship game.
Defensive dynamo Denicos Allen, who recorded nine tackles, three of which were for a loss, and two sacks, spoke about the difference between this victory for his Spartans, and the last one they took home against the Wolverines back in 2011.
"Two years ago was nothing," Allen told reporters after the game. "It was a lot worse today, and I think they felt it."
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.