Spartans survive collapse with overtime thriller

October, 3, 2009
10/03/09
3:28
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


Did Michigan State save its season or breath new life into its 2009 campaign?

Both.

The Spartans deserved to win this game. They bottled up Michigan's run game and limited Tate Forcier for three quarters. They made enough plays on offense when they needed them.

And yet, a here-we-go-again feeling swept through Spartan Stadium as Michigan rallied for two touchdowns in the final 4:03. Mark Dantonio's decision to go for it on fourth-and-3 from the Michigan 31 would have been heavily scrutinized had his team not held on. As Forcier again showed why he's the most clutch freshman in the country, Michigan State had its typical collapse, especially in the secondary.

But in overtime, the Spartans found a way to win 26-20, and that bodes well for the rest of the season. They showed poise and perseverance, two qualities missing from past MSU teams. Forcier finally made a freshman mistake, and Chris L. Rucker capitalized for the interception. And then Michigan State's Larry Caper showed why he was such a highly touted recruit with an amazing run for the game-winning touchdown. The Spartans showed that running back by committee can work, and even Kirk Cousins got into the action.

Michigan State beats Michigan in consecutive years for the first time since a three-year run from 1965 to 67. The Spartans avoid a 1-4 start that, given the circumstances, could have doomed the season.

Michigan did a nice job of defending the red zone, but the Wolverines really struggled in this one. They'll be out of the Top 25 when they head to Iowa next week. And Rich Rodriguez will need to answer for several questionable decisions.

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