Michigan State Football: Antjuan Simmons savors a sweet homecoming

Michigan State's Antjuan Simmons celebrates a stop against Michigan during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.201031 Msu Um 147a
Michigan State's Antjuan Simmons celebrates a stop against Michigan during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.201031 Msu Um 147a /

From Ann Arbor to East Lansing, Antjuan Simmons got to come back home to savor Michigan State football’s big win over Michigan.

Antjuan Simmons went to high school just across the street from Michigan Stadium. He received well over three dozen offers while starring for Ann Arbor Pioneer.

During his senior year of high school in the fall of 2016, Michigan State was playing its worst football of the Mark Dantonio era as it took plenty of lumps on their way to enduring a painful 3-9 campaign. Meanwhile, Michigan was riding high after posting a double-digit win total that particular fall.

Simmons was at a fork in the road yet he surprised many by taking the unconventional route and leaving his hometown university behind to become a Spartan. Michigan State fans couldn’t be happier that he chose to go green on January 14, 2017.

Flash forward to now and his fingerprints are all over the program, especially after he tremendously and undoubtedly impacted the outcome of Saturday’s instant classic. If you make a difference in this rivalry game, you will be revered for years to come.

Michigan State pulled off an improbable upset win this weekend against heavily-favored Michigan (odds makers had them as three touchdown favorites heading into this contest) thanks in large part to the amazing effort of the senior linebacker. Interestingly enough, Michigan quarterback Joe Milton was arrogant enough to state that Simmons “wasn’t on my radar”.

After watching game tape, how is it conceivable that Milton didn’t know who he was? After all, No. 34 was speeding sideline-to-sideline against Rutgers hunting down everyone he set his sights on?

Milton said he “wasn’t worried about him” when referring to Simmons. He may leave Milton with nightmares once he reviews Saturday’s loss on film as he was flying all over the field on his way to making 11 tackles and helping lead a defensive unit that kept everything in front of them while not surrendering any game-breaking plays.

Simmons and his sidekick Noah Harvey (who also made 11 tackles of his own) joined forces with the safeties (Xavier Henderson and Tre Person were excellent as they combined to account for 16 tackles of their own) to force Milton into throwing 19 incomplete passes. Milton also was held to zero passing touchdowns as well as zero rushing scores.

Simmons and Co. successfully stopped Michigan on 10 third-down conversion attempts, did not allow any single back to gain over 60 yards rushing and they were stingy enough not to concede a play of more than 30 yards.

It can be argued that the single most critical play in the game was also a sequence that ultimately decided who would emerge victorious. Michigan went into a wildcat formation with a few minutes remaining before the half. On a third & goal, Simmons deflected a pass intended for a Wolverine tight end who was wide open in the end zone. Michigan had to settle for a field goal.

“Simmons, who’s that?”

Well, Joe, he’s the monster in the middle of the Spartan defense. He’s impossible to miss and his determination and fingertips were the difference between a 28-27 Michigan win and a 27-24 Michigan State triumph.

Next. 3 takeaways from massive upset over Michigan. dark