Denard Gets First Win Over Rival Michigan State
Today, Robinson didn’t put together the flashiest performance of his career, but the Wolverines recorded their first win over in-state rival Michigan State since 2007. It was a losing streak that seemed preposterous before the Rich-Rod era, as Michigan had won 10 of the last 12 meetings going into 2008. The past four seasons, however, the Spartans have touted a succinct defensive unit that has consistently forced Denard Robinson to beat them through the air. In today’s game, the tough defensive effort continued and Robinson didn’t put up anything relating Heisman numbers, but thanks to some key plays down the stretch, in the end, the Wolverines found themselves on top.
In this year’s matchup, Robinson completed 14 of his 29 passes for 163 passing yards with 1 INT, and he rushed for 96 yards. But the team didn’t score a single touchdown. Instead, four field goals and some key defensive plays made the difference on the score sheet.
Robinson’s stats really don’t show it, but today was one of his more respectable performances against a worthy defensive unit. With less than 20 seconds on the clock, the Wolverines were down a point with the ball on Michigan State’s 41-yard line. Robinson then threw a 20-yard strike to Drew Dileo to put the team in range for the game-winning field goal.
It’s been points like these in the past where Robinson has been forced to pass (the team had no timeouts left) that the team has usually fallen short – against Notre Dame earlier this year, for example. By taking away Robinson’s legs, opposing teams have usually found themselves coming away victorious at the end.
Today’s win is a big step for Robinson because the last two years, the team had gone into the Michigan State weekend undefeated, and come out with their first loss of the season. In 2010, Robinson was off to a dynamic start to the season under Rich Rodriguez, but the team hit a roadblock when Michigan State came to town and Robinson threw 3 interceptions in a 34-17 loss. The following year, Robinson was held to under 200 total yards and threw a costly pick in a 28-14 Spartans victory.
Even though the Heisman hopes for Robinson have faded out of the picture, defeating the Spartans for the first time in his career and in his last opportunity is an accomplishment the Wolverines can really build on going forward.