AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING (AP) — Amara Darboh caught eight passes for a career-high 165 yards, and De’Veon Smith ran for two touchdowns to lift No. 2 Michigan to a 32-23 win over rival Michigan State on Saturday.READ MORE: MDOT: Final Adopt-A-Highway Cleanup Of 2021 Starts September 25
The Wolverines (8-0, 5-0) scored every time they had the ball in the first half, beating the Spartans (2-6, 0-5) for only the second time in the last nine meetings. Michigan avenged last year’s loss to Michigan State, in which the Spartans scored the winning touchdown on the final play when the Wolverines botched a punt.
Michigan State went on to a Big Ten title and a national semifinal appearance after that dramatic victory, but this season it’s Michigan that’s in the national title hunt. The Wolverines were heavy favorites to win in East Lansing, and they trailed only briefly in the first quarter.
Michigan led 30-10 in the fourth before the Spartans scored a pair of touchdowns, the last of which came with only 1 second on the clock. Michigan State attempted a 2-point conversion and fumbled, and Jabrill Peppers returned it the other way for a defensive conversion that enabled the Wolverines to cap the win on a high note.
Wilton Speight threw for 244 yards for Michigan. Michigan State, meanwhile, did not complete a pass in the second or third quarter. The Spartans have lost six in a row and need to win out to become bowl eligible.
Michigan: This was expected to be a mismatch, and it wasn’t all that close until the very end. After losing last year on the wacky punt mishap, the Wolverines didn’t have to punt until the fourth quarter Saturday. Michigan didn’t match its defensive dominance from some earlier games, but the Wolverines did make a nice goal line stand in the third quarter that proved crucial.READ MORE: Invasive Species Found After Mid-Michigan Dam Failures
Michigan State: LJ Scott rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown against the nation’s top-ranked defense, but Michigan State’s deficiencies in other areas were eventually exposed. The Spartans’ defense this year is nothing like the smothering units they’ve had in recent seasons, and the passing game was nonexistent until backup quarterback Brian Lewerke came on late.
Michigan: The Wolverines can only move up one more spot in the Top 25, and that isn’t likely to happen without a loss by No. 1 Alabama.
Michigan: The Wolverines host Maryland next Saturday.
Michigan State: This is the longest losing streak for the Spartans since they started 0-7 in 1982 — not including forfeits from 1994. The Spartans play at Illinois on Saturday.
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