EAST LANSING, Mich. — A year ago, Michael Geiger split his time between Ottawa Hills High School’s football and boys soccer teams.
Saturday at Spartan Stadium, Geiger concentrated his efforts on one endeavor: The freshman helped the Michigan State football team in its 29-6 win over Michigan. Geiger kicked a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter, a 44-yard field goal in the second, then a 35-yard field goal in the third.
Deemed the Spartans’ starting kicker at the end of September, Geiger entered Saturday’s game against the Wolverines 6 for 7 on field goals in five games, including a 49-yard kick in a 26-14 win Oct. 5 at Iowa.
“There’s pressure on a young man at this level for a first-time Michigan game,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “Keep in mind, he hadn’t kicked a field goal since the Iowa game, hadn’t attempted one, so to come in and kick two-for-two like that, it got his confidence going.”
Both Rivals and 247Sports.com rated Geiger as the No. 1 kicker in the country in the Class of 2013.
“He believes in himself,” Dantonio said. “The football team believes in him as well, and it was big.”
YELLOW FLAGS: Michigan State entered Saturday’s game as the Big Ten’s most penalized team, with 521 yards in its first eight games.
In Saturday’s win, the Spartans took five penalties for 25 yards — or 14 yards less than Michigan, which took three penalties for 39 yards.
“We just tried to stay out of all the issues with the UM-Michigan State rivalry, all the talk, and I think for the most part it was a pretty clean-played game,” Dantonio said. “That was a positive to see.”
Michigan’s most glaring penalty? A call for unsportsmanlike conduct against left tackle Taylor Lewan with less than eight minutes left in the half, called when he pushed the face mask Spartans safety Kurtis Drummond after the whistle.
Michigan lost 14 yards as a result of the call.
AMONG NOTABLES: Watching the game from Michigan’s sideline Saturday was former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Former Michigan State offensive lineman Flozell Adams, who played for 13 seasons in the NFL, served as the Spartans’ honorary captain Saturday.
HOKE ON LIST: Brady Hoke has been named to the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year watch list.
Hoke and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer are on the watch list, which is made up of 20 coaches.
Ten finalists will be announced in early December and the winner will be announced Jan. 15, 2014 in Houston.
MADEJ HONORED: Michigan State recognized outgoing Michigan sports information director Bruce Madej in the Spartan Stadium press box during the first half of Saturday’s game. Michigan State associate athletic director/communications John Lewandowski presented a statuette of the Paul Bunyan Trophy to Madej.
Madej is the assistant athletic director for special projects announced his impending retirement in August, after working for 34 years at Michigan.