With the news of Jim Harbaugh leaving Michigan to coach the Los Angeles Chargers, that chapter of the Paul Bunyan Trophy officially comes to a close. It was a wild ride with some classic games Michigan vs. Michigan State football. He leaves the rivalry with a 5-4 record.
So lets rank those four Spartan wins over Harbaugh.
4. October 7, 2017
While the box score looks ugly, the weather was even uglier. The rivalry’s first night game started as a beautiful, breezy fall night, but was nothing less than a monsoon by the fourth quarter.
The Spartans' defense showed up early and often, allowing a field goal on the opening drive after allowing the No. 7 Wolverines to march down 64 yards in 16 plays. After getting no help from their offense, the defense was back on the field after a quick three-and-out. Joe Bachie made quick work of the drive, causing a Ty Isaac fumble which Chris Frey recovered giving the offense only 46 yards to find the endzone. The run-heavy drive in addition to a Devin Bush unsportsmanlike conduct penalty set up quarterback Brian Lewerke to scramble for a 15-yard touchdown run with three minutes left in the first quarter.
With both defenses settling in, there wasn’t another score until Dave Warner called one of the most beautiful screen passes I have ever seen. With Darrell Stewart faking the end around, Kevin Jarvis and Brian Allen skirting out as the lead blockers for Madre London, road grating the two defenders leaving London with the ability to put the Spartans up 11 with eight minutes to go in the half.
Just when Michigan thought they had cracked the Spartan defense with a 36-yard pass from John O’Korn to Sean McKeon, the defense was able to pry the ball away once again, ending the threat of Michigan cutting into the lead.
With a comfortable lead and the rain starting to come down, the Spartan offense set up the perfect game plan of running the ball and only passing for 17 yards in the second half. Lewerke’s five completions were only two more than the number of passes Michigan State defenders caught from O’Korn in the second half. Interceptions by David Dowell (2) and one by Joe Bachie killed any drive Michigan may have started to take the lead resulting in a 14-10 Spartan victory in Ann Arbor.
The stage was set for Michigan to be resurrected as a program with a night game, against a rival and a top-10 ranking. The loss started the grumblings of Jim Harbaugh not being able to develop quarterbacks and was feeling the heat after being 1-2 against MSU and 0-3 against OSU.