EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The 114th meeting between No. 6 Michigan and No. 8 Michigan State couldn’t have started in a more fitting fashion with former East Lansing High School standout Andrel Anthony Jr. scoring the first touchdown of the game, but for the Wolverines.
Anthony, a highly sought-after recruit by both Jim Harbaugh and Mel Tucker, caught a pass from Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara on the Wolverines’ first drive of the game and raced down the sideline for a 93-yard touchdown. It was the true freshman’s first-career touchdown for the Maize and Blue.
As for the Spartans, their opening drive wasn’t as successful. Payton Thorne’s pass was intercepted by DJ Turner. Thorne would later throw another on the Spartans’ third drive. A pass intended for Harold Joiner was tipped and Mike Morris came up with it for a 5-yard gain. Michigan was able to capitalize off of the turnover. Jake Moody kicked a 26-yard field goal to give Michigan a 10-0 lead.
On Friday morning ESPN’s Rece Davis, who hosts College GameDay, said in order for MSU’s Kenneth Walker III to be in The Heisman Trophy mix the junior running back would have to have a dominant performance versus the Wolverines and in the second quarter, ‘K9’ went to work.
Walker rushed for a 27-yard touchdown at the beginning of the second quarter to get MSU on the board, 10-7. He then backed it up with an 8-yard touchdown to give the Spartans their first lead of the game, 14-13, with 7:16 to play before the half.
Leave it to Anthony though, the hometown guy, to put the Wolverines back on top. With 3:45 remaining in the first half Anthony hauled in a 17-yard pass from J.J. McCarthy in the back of the north endzone at Spartan Stadium to put Michigan up, 20-14.
Prior to this game, Michigan ranked 5th in the nation in rushing yards, with 25 rushing touchdowns, but as the game rolled on in East Lansing the Wolverines started to show they also can be a threat through the air.
With 6:47 to play in the third quarter, McNamara connected Mike Sainristil for a 19-yard touchdown to extend the Wolverines lead, 30-14.
However, as history has shown in this annual rivalry showdown, the team who can get it done on the ground is the one who’s holding Paul Bunyan when the clock strikes zero.
Walker capped off an 8-play drive for the Spartans towards the end of the third quarter with a 1-yard touchdown and in the fourth, he had his most explosive run of the day. Walker rushed for a 58-yard touchdown for his fourth of the day. Afterward, Thorne and Reed completed the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 30.
The junior running back wasn’t done there. He’d rush for another 23-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to put MSU up 37-33. His five touchdowns are a new personal best for Walker.
Michigan got the ball back with just over a minute left in the game still down only four points but McNamara’s second pass of the drive was intercepted by freshman cornerback Charles Brantley which sealed the Spartans’ victory, 37-33.
Michigan State is now 8-0 for the first time since 2015 and Mel Tucker becomes the first Michigan State head coach to win his first two meetings against Michigan.