No. 12 Michigan 45, Michigan State 37, 3OT
Saturday, October 30th 2004, 8:56 pm
By: News On 6
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) _ Braylon Edwards experienced a joy millions of NFL dollars couldn't buy.
Edwards caught two touchdown passes to help Michigan erase a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit in just 5:44, and grabbed a third TD in triple overtime to lift the Wolverines to a 45-37 win over Michigan State on Saturday.
``This is why I came back,'' said Edwards, who chose to be a Michigan senior rather than an NFL rookie this year. ``To be honest, I've never felt like this after a game.''
The Spartans have probably never left Michigan Stadium _ where they haven't won since 1990 _ more devastated.
``It was a game I feel we could have won and should have won,'' Michigan State coach John L. Smith said. ``I'm just sick.''
With the thrilling comeback, No. 12 Michigan (8-1, 6-0 Big Ten) moved a half-game ahead of idle Wisconsin in the conference and kept its hopes alive for a Bowl Championship Series bid.
``It was one of the greatest games I've ever been in,'' Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. ``It's unfortunate somebody has to lose.
``We're still in the race. We still have a chance to do something.''
The Spartans (4-4, 3-2) had a great chance to pull off an upset, but could not hold onto a 27-10 lead with 8:43 left.
The Spartans were without their standout quarterback, Drew Stanton, after he separated his right shoulder late in the first half.
After accounting for 80 yards rushing and a TD and 95 yards passing, Stanton was relegated to watching the lead he helped build slip away.
``That was real hard,'' said Stanton, who is expected to miss at least a couple of games with a separated shoulder. ``I can't even try to explain it.''
Smith was asked to explain why he left Jaren Hayes in one-on-one coverage on both of Edwards' TDs in regulation.
``Our kid was there to make a play. He just went up a foot higher,'' Smith said. ``I'm not going to pound on my kid for that. The other guy is just a great athlete.''
Edwards caught 11 passes for 189 yards _ breaking Anthony Carter's school record for career yards receiving.
``Braylon Edwards made plays that I don't think anybody else can make,'' Carr said.
Freshman Chad Henne was 24-of-35 for 273 yards with four TDs. Michael Hart had 33 carries for 224 yards _ his third straight 200-yard game _ and a TD, but limped off the field with a bruised thigh during the first overtime.
Michigan State's DeAndra Cobb scored on a 72-yard run early in the first quarter and again on 64-yard run to put the Spartans ahead 27-10 midway through the fourth quarter. Cobb finished with 205 yards on 22 carries.
Damon Dowdell, who replaced Stanton, was 8-of-13 for 72 yards.
The Spartans had a chance to win the game in regulation _ after pass interference was called with no time left _ but Dave Rayner's 50-yard kick into a stiff wind was short.
After both teams kicked field goals in the first overtime, Michigan State's Jason Teague scored on a 3-yard run and Michigan answered with a 5-yard pass to a leaping Jason Avant in the back corner of the end zone.
Following Edwards' third TD, the Spartans gained just 2 yards and the game ended with an incomplete pass to the end zone.
Michigan State started strong and had its way against the Wolverines for the most part before collapsing late in regulation. The Spartans gained 535 yards, including 368 on the ground against the nation's third-ranked rushing defense.
After Cobb's second TD, Michigan stalled at Michigan State's 7 and had to settle for a field goal.
When Michigan's Brian Thompson recovered an onside kick, a comeback seemed possible.
``I don't think there was a bigger play,'' Carr said.
Two plays later, Henne heaved a pass to the end zone and Edwards snatched it away from Hayes to pull the Wolverines within a TD. On the second play of Michigan's next drive, Henne lofted a 21-yard pass to the end zone and Edwards outjumped Hayes for it to tie the game at 27 with 2:59 to go.
When the comeback was complete, Michigan had its 12th straight home win, dating to its loss against Iowa on Oct. 4, 2003.
The game was nothing like the previous six in the rivalry at Michigan Stadium.
Michigan won those matchups by an average of more than three touchdowns, including a 49-3 rout two years ago that led to the firing of Spartans coach Bobby Williams and the hiring of Smith.