EAST LANSING (AP) — After the initial celebration had died down a bit, Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough reflected on a day that made every Spartan proud.
But one he hopes will not be the highlight of the season.
“This will last the rest of my life, but we have a few more games left,” Bullough said. “The Rose Bowl is going to last the rest of my life.”
The Spartans can certainly think big after Saturday’s 29-6 victory over rival Michigan. Michigan State moved up six spots to No. 18 in Sunday’s AP Top 25. It was the fifth win in six games for the Spartans against the Wolverines — and this one was a manhandling.
After holding Michigan to minus-48 yards rushing — the worst total in program history — Michigan State remains one of two Big Ten teams unbeaten in conference play. The Spartans have not been to the Rose Bowl since 1988, but they’ve quietly emerged as contenders this season because of a bruising defense.
“We had a lot of respect for their defense all week going into this game,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “I think they played awfully well and executed awfully well. I don’t think we did.”
Michigan State (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten) will have time to bask a bit in this resounding victory, because next weekend the Spartans have an open date. Then comes a trip to Nebraska, which has only one conference loss. The Legends Division title could be on the line in that game.
But Nebraska has to travel to play Michigan first, underscoring what a solid position the Spartans are in as the season winds down.
Michigan State’s offense looked anemic at the start of the season, and even lately it’s been merely serviceable — but Bullough and the defense have been able to control games.