Today marks only three more weeks until the Michigan State football season starts. Let’s highlight Kenneth Walker’s day against Michigan.
Welcome back to my 50 defining moments of the 2021 Michigan State football season. Today celebrates the 30th day of this series and is moment No. 21 on my list. To celebrate, let’s relive another Kenneth Walker III defining moment against Michigan.
No. 21: Kenneth Walker III’s 27-yard TD run vs. Michigan
This was the first Walker touchdown of the day, for those wondering.
Why No. 21?
After a first quarter that was all Michigan, the Spartans trailed 10-0. Right after the first quarter ended, however, Michigan State football got on the board. Kenneth Walker III decided that Michigan State would win this game, and he put the team on his back.
After initially getting bottled up at the line of scrimmage, Kenneth Walker III found a sliver of space and bounced out to his left. Michigan defenders had given up on the play, as well as most of the fans. All of the sudden, Walker burst out away from the pile at full speed. With that speed and his vision, Walker was able to race into the endzone to trim the Michigan lead down.
The Spartan offensive line gets another shoutout on this play. Despite Walker getting stuck at the line of the scrimmage, the line held their blocks long enough for K9 to find an alternative route to the end zone. Connor Heyward, by extension, gets a shoutout. Heyward saw the cutback by Walker and sealed everyone’s favorite Heisman candidate, Wolverine No. 97, out of the play. You would think that a Heisman finalist would be able to power through a converted running back, but I digress.
Jalen Nailor also made a great play, sealing Vincent Gray and locking him up when Walker cut back. I do not know if Gray gave up on the play or if Nailor just spent that long with the strength and conditioning staff last offseason. Regardless, full marks for the wide receiver here.
Additionally, Kenneth Walker made this play. Much like how Nailor made moment no. 23, Walker took a play with a small gain and turned it into a touchdown. If you stopped time halfway through the play, I would have told you that there was no way Walker ended in the end zone.
This play was dynamic and had a “wow” factor, with Walker creating something out of nothing as I mentioned. It also was a counterpunch to the Michigan defense that had already created two turnovers. It created some momentum that enabled the Spartans to stay in the game later.
This said, it was the first Spartan touchdown of the game, which does not have the same effect of other Walker touchdowns later in this game. On top of that, the Wolverine offense maintained their scoring pace and scored a field goal as the next swing in the game. Walker had a dynamic moment that showed off all of his skills, but it does not have the same effect at the end of the day.
Additionally, it would be remiss to not mention the potential fumble during the play. When Walker broke the plane, it appeared that the ball came out. There was no angle shown that confirmed a fumble, so the referees stuck by the call on the field of a touchdown. I believe this was correct, obviously, but Walker’s reaction makes it hard to call a definitive non-fumble. That does hurt the ranking a bit, keeping this just out of my top 20.
Statistically, this was Walker’s first touchdown of the game. He scored quite a few more times in this game, as you might have noticed. This was part of his aforementioned record-setting day against the Wolverines, as well as the game that secured him the Doak Walker award.
Tomorrow, the Spartans break into their top 20 moments with one of their last touchdowns of the season.