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October 15, 2011
Shoelace 'got a little beat up'
Jerel Worthy and his Michigan State teammates charged across the field, holding four fingers in the air while celebrating another sweet victory over their biggest rival.EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -
"A clean sweep!" Worthy yelled.
In his four years with the Spartans, Worthy has never lost to Michigan. He and the rest of Michigan State's defensive line helped extend that run Saturday, shutting down Denard Robinson and the 11th-ranked Wolverines in a 28-14 victory.
The 23rd-ranked Spartans have won four straight against Michigan for the first time since 1959-62, equaling Michigan State's longest streak in the series.
"For the rest of our life, we can walk the streets of Michigan," quarterback Kirk Cousins said.
Cousins, a fifth-year senior, is the first Michigan State starting quarterback to win three straight over Michigan.
Keshawn Martin scored twice in the third quarter on similar lunges to the end zone, and Michigan State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) held off Robinson and the Wolverines during a wild fourth quarter.
Michigan (6-1, 2-1) lost for the first time under coach Brady Hoke. The Wolverines had a chance to tie it, but Robinson was sacked on fourth-and-1 from the Michigan State 9-yard line with 6:16 to play.
Robinson later threw an interception, and Isaiah Lewis returned it 39 yards for a touchdown with 4:31 left to make it 28-14. Shortly after that, Robinson was shaken up by a hit and left the game.
Edwin Baker ran for 167 yards and a touchdown for the Spartans.
"It's a big win, a program win," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "To do that a fourth straight year says a lot about our players."
Michigan State took the field in special green-and-bronze Nike Pro Combat uniforms. In a surprise move, Michigan showed up in "legacy" uniforms by Adidas that included pants that were white instead of the usual maize.
The Wolverines haven't beaten the Spartans since 2007, when then-Michigan running back Mike Hart compared Michigan State to a "little brother" and Dantonio shot back by saying the Wolverines needed "to check themselves." Dantonio said after that game that "pride comes before the fall" - and now it's Michigan State enjoying the spoils of victory in this series, keeping the Paul Bunyan Trophy from its in-state foe.
Worthy, a standout defensive tackle, is a redshirt junior. He has a tattoo displaying a Spartan stomping on a Wolverine.
"We're always fighting for respect," Worthy said. "I feel even better about getting that tattoo now."
The Spartans, who tied for the Big Ten title last year, are now alone atop the Legends Division with a big home game against Wisconsin coming up next weekend.
This week, Michigan State was coming off an open date. Michigan has one next weekend.
"They need to feel this one," Hoke said. "We all need to feel this one for a while. But we'll turn the page."
Robinson ran for a first-quarter touchdown but was mostly ineffective through the air, going 9 for 24 for 123 yards and a touchdown on a windy day in East Lansing.
Down 21-7, Robinson found Roy Roundtree for a 34-yard touchdown with 9:49 left in the game. Martin then fumbled on an end around, giving Michigan the ball at the Michigan State 32.
After converting fourth-and-1 from the 23 with a short run, Robinson faced the same down and distance from the 9. Michigan called a slow-developing play-action attempt, and Johnny Adams sacked Robinson to end the drive.
After Michigan got the ball back, Robinson's pass was intercepted by Lewis, who took it back for a touchdown. Lewis risked a penalty by holding the ball out before crossing the goal line, but the touchdown stood.
The Spartans didn't always handle the emotionally charged game well, committing 13 penalties for 124 yards.
Robinson's day ended late in the fourth when he was thrown down by Marcus Rush, who was called for roughing the passer. The Michigan quarterback stood on the sideline, green grass stains all over his uniform, as the Spartans finished off another win over the Wolverines.
"I got a little beat up," Robinson said.
Hoke said he didn't know what the injury was. Robinson said it was not a concussion.
With the game tied at 7, Michigan State went on a 54-yard drive to start the third quarter. On third-and-goal from the 10, Cousins found Martin, who caught the ball at the 5 near the right sideline and managed to stay in bounds before extending the ball across the goal line while being knocked backward toward the end zone.
Martin caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Cousins in the final minute of the third, dodging a tackler and diving to that same front corner of the end zone.
Michigan State entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense, and its defensive line gave Robinson problems all day.
Each team scored on its first possession of the game. Robinson gave Michigan a 7-0 lead with a 15-yard run, and the Spartans answered with a 63-yard drive that ended with Baker's 1-yard scoring run.
Devin Gardner tried to rally Michigan after Robinson departed late in the fourth. He had a touchdown pass called back because he was well past the line of scrimmage when he threw the ball. On fourth-and-21 from the Michigan State 44, Gardner began running to the right sideline, then doubled back to the middle of the field, then circled back again to the same sideline before being stopped. Gardner had a receiver open deep down the field toward the end of the play but either couldn't see him or couldn't get rid of the ball.
NOTES: Andrew Johnson, a 19-year-old Michigan State sophomore, won a 2012 GMC Acadia valued at over $32,000 by kicking a 40-yard field goal as part of an in-game contest. The wind appeared to switch directions - in his favor - when he attempted the kick. ... Michigan State's previous four-game winning streak in the series was part of a 6-0-2 stretch against Michigan from 1956-63.