Spartans stun Wolverines on flubbed punt return
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Jalen Watts-Jackson grabbed the football on a flubbed punt attempt and lumbered 38 yards into the end zone for a touchdown on the final play of the game, giving No. 7 Michigan State a shocking 27-23 win over No. 12 Michigan in one of college football’s most unlikely endings.
With the Wolverines ahead 23-21 and 10 seconds left, Michigan punter Blake O’Neill bobbled a low snap, and spun around to try and make the kick. But he was hit, the ball popped free and Watts-Jackson caught it, broke a few tackles in the final yards and made it into the end zone.
Michigan State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) has won seven of eight in the series, its best stretch in more than a half-century. Michigan (5-2, 2-1) lost for the first time since opening the season with a setback at Utah.
The Wolverines were seconds away from sealing the win after Sione Houma ran for two TDs, Kenny Allen kicked three field goals and forcing the Spartans to turn the ball over on downs with 1:47 left at its 45.
The Spartans had only one timeout left and used it after the next snap. Michigan had two and coach Jim Harbaugh used both, including one with 10 seconds left to set up the final punt.
Michigan State moved the ball up and down the field against a team that had shut out three straight opponents, picking up 386 yards — mostly through the air — and 20 first downs.
Connor Cook was 18 of 39 for 328 yards and a TD and Aaron Burbridge had nine receptions for 132 yards for the Spartans.
Jake Rudock was 15 of 25 and 168 yards and avoided turning the ball over.
In fact, both teams took good care of the football until the final snap.
It looked like a trick play was going to lead to a setback for the Spartans.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, known for having the guts to call trick plays, called for a fake punt when no one was expecting it. Punter and backup quarterback Tyler O’Connor ran 7 yards on a fourth-and-8 from the Michigan State 31, turning the ball over on downs.
Michigan took advantage, moving to a 17-7 lead early in the third quarter on Houma’s 1-yard run.