EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Chris Perry's chest heaved as he put
his hands on his knees. Then, he rested an arm on an official.
He had good reason to be tired.
Perry ran for 219 yards on a school-record 51 carries and John
Navarre threw three touchdown passes to lead Michigan (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) past
Michigan State (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) 27-20 on Saturday.
"I need a hot tub," Perry said. "And we've got one in our
The Wolverines (8-2, 5-1) moved into first place alone in the
Big Ten after earning just the second win on the road in the
rivalry in 12 years.
"You're not going to be Big Ten champions unless you're state
champions," Michigan's Dave Pearson said.
If Michigan, which is off next week, wins at Northwestern in two
weeks and against at home Ohio State on Nov. 22, the Wolverines
will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since winning the
1997 national championship.
"We have to finish this off," Navarre said.
The Spartans (7-2, 4-1) had won five straight games and were off
to their best start since 1966. If Michigan State wins on the road
against Ohio State and Wisconsin and at home against Penn State, it
will have at least a share of its first Big Ten title since 1990.
"It's far from over," Michigan State's Jeff Smoker said.
Just when it appeared Michigan would add to its 14-point lead
and put the game away, Robert Flagg sacked Navarre and forced a
fumble that Clifford Dukes returned 65 yards for a TD with 6:03
Michigan drove into Michigan State territory, but punted into
the end zone with 1:06 left.
With no timeouts, Michigan State drove to midfield. The game
ended on Smoker's desperation heave that was intercepted by Scott
McClintock in the end zone after it hit receiver Aaron Alexander's
"We dominated that game," Michigan's Ernest Shazor said.
"Don't let the final score fool you."
Perry surpassed the Michigan rushing-attempt record of 42 set by
Ron Johnson in 1967 and matched by Anthony Thomas in 1999. His TD
in the second quarter was the first score.
"I promise you, he didn't want to come out," Michigan coach
Lloyd Carr said.
Navarre was 17-of-31 for 223 yards with three TDs and one
interception. Braylon Edwards caught seven passes for 103 yards and
Smoker was 21-of-40 for 254 yards with a TD and an interception,
his first more than 200 passes. Agim Shabaj had four receptions for
106 yards and a TD.
Michigan's offensive line was dominating.
When Perry ran, he had huge holes. For the 33rd time in 34
meetings, the team that ran for more yards won. Michigan outgained
Michigan State 216-36 on the ground.
When Navarre threw, he had time against a team that entered the
game leading the nation with 34 sacks. The Spartans' only sack was
the one that gave them comeback hopes.
Navarre lofted a 40-yard TD pass to Edwards with 1:03 left in
the first half. Garrett Rivas' extra point was wide right, leaving
Michigan with a 13-3 lead at halftime.
On fourth-and-2 at Michigan's 36, the Spartans lined up for a
punt and had Rayner run, but he was slung to the ground just short
of the first down by Pierre Woods and Pat Massey.
"We made sure they didn't get any momentum," Woods said.
On the ensuing drive, Navarre's 26-yard pass to a wide-open Andy
Mignery put the Wolverines ahead 20-3 with 4:12 left in the third
Michigan State answered on its next offensive play with Smoker's
73-yard pass to Shabaj, who was all alone.
But again, the Spartans couldn't stop Michigan.
On a third-and-goal from the 16, Navarre's pass to Edwards put
the Wolverines ahead 27-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Michigan State coach John L. Smith said Michigan was the
most-balanced team -- with the best talent -- the Spartans have
faced. They could not stack their defense against the run because
of the Wolverines' passing game.
"You can't put a guy on an island against those kids," Smith
said. "It's unfair to do that, but you're damned if you do and
damned if you don't."