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Published: 10/31/2004

MSU, UM accomplish improbable

ANN ARBOR - The Michigan Wolverines reminded everyone yesterday why you can never let up when you have them down.

You have to play a full game to beat Michigan.

Michigan State contained Michigan for nearly 51 minutes, building a shocking 27-10 lead.

The Wolverines, however, scored 17 unanswered points and completed the miracle comeback with a 45-37 victory in triple overtime in Michigan Stadium.

Just when it appeared that Michigan's hopes of playing in a Bowl Championship Series bowl game were officially dead, Michigan reversed itself and saved the season.

The improbability of Michigan's comeback was eclipsed only by Michigan State's dominance through 3 1/2 quarters.

The Spartans dominated Michigan on offense.

Michigan had allowed the fewest yards rushing per game in the Big Ten. The Wolverines were surrendering an average of 71.6 yards per game and a league-low 2.2 yards per carry.

Michigan State rushed for 368 yards and averaged 6.5 yards per carry. DeAndra Cobb carried the ball 22 times for 205 yards and two touchdowns.

When Cobb sprinted 64 yards for an apparent insurance TD with 8:43 left in regulation, it was all over but the gloating for the underdog Spartans.

The Spartans also had dominated Michigan on defense.

Michigan came into the game averaging 28.1 points a game (the same as Michigan State). Until the midway mark in the fourth quarter, the Wolverines had managed only a touchdown and a field goal.

Nothing suggested that Michigan State could defeat

No. 12 Michigan. Michigan State hadn't won in Michigan Stadium since 1990.

But just when it appeared that the Wolverines had blown their season but good, Michigan reversed itself.

What resulted yesterday was a Michigan victory that coach Lloyd Carr predicts will be discussed for years to come.

"I don't think what they did will be forgotten," Carr said.

Make it three in a row for Carr against Michigan State. It's obvious by now Carr owns the Spartans.

When the time arrived to win or lose the game, Michigan State's defense couldn't contain Michigan's high-powered offense.

Despite the good feelings Michigan State generated throughout the game, it was gone when Braylon Edwards snagged the winning 24-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne.

Edwards continues to make his case to be recognized not only as the top receiver in college football, but also a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.

Edwards caught 11 balls for 189 yards and three touchdowns.

Michigan and Michigan State were both ready to play each other. That's the added beauty of the Wolverine-Spartan rivalry. The anticipation adds to the execution and emotion on the field and on both sidelines.

The Spartans play hard for coach John L. Smith. But as with any coach, Smith will be judged on his record and how often he beats Michigan. Right now, he's 0-2 against the Wolverines.

Smith is an emotional coach, so I guess we shouldn't be surprised that he's at his best in games filled with emotion.

Smith had the Spartans ready to play.

They did everything but win the game.



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