ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Dominating in all facets of the game, the sixth-ranked University of Michigan football team notched its sixth victory of the season with a 31-13 win over the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday (Oct. 7) in front of 111,349 fans at Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) claimed their fifth straight victory in the series against the Spartans and won for the 33rd time in the Paul Bunyan Trophy series, this time in the programs' 99th meeting. U-M holds a 33-19-2 advantage when the Bunyan Trophy has been on the line and owns a 66-28-5 lead in the all-time series.
The offense was once again led by the junior combination of quarterback Chad Henne (Wyomissing, Pa./Wilson HS) and tailback Mike Hart (Syracuse, N.Y./Onondaga Central HS). Henne had 11 completions on 17 passing attempts for 140 yards and three touchdowns. With his trio of scores, Henne has totaled 10 touchdowns in his three career contests against Michigan State. Hart rushed for 122 yards on 22 carries and passed the century mark on the ground for the fourth time this season. Freshman tailback Brandon Minor (Richmond, Va./Varina HS) added his first career touchdown on a 40-yard scamper in the second half.
Sophomore Mario Manningham (Warren, Ohio/Warren G. Harding HS) hauled in three receptions for 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Today marked Manningham's fourth straight game with a touchdown and his third multiple-touchdown performance in his past four contests. Senior wide receiver Steve Breaston (North Braddock, Pa./Woodland Hills HS) led the team with four catches for 34 yards, and junior wide receiver Adrian Arrington (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Washington HS) chipped in with one catch, a 13-yard touchdown on the Wolverines' first offensive possession.
Michigan's NCAA-leading rushing defense held the conference's top rushing team to just 60 yards on 26 attempts. Senior safety Ryan Mundy (Wilkins Township, Pa./Woodland Hills HS) tied for the team lead in stops with a career-high eight tackles against the Spartans. Senior linebacker Prescott Burgess (Warren, Ohio/Warren G. Harding HS) added eight tackles including two tackles for loss. Junior safety Jamar Adams (Charlotte, N.C./Butler HS) chipped in with six tackles and a second-half interception. With his fourth-quarter interception senior cornerback Leon Hall (Vista, Calif./Vista HS) tied for fifth all-time in career interceptions at U-M.
Michigan scored on its opening possession of the game with a 13-yard strike from Henne to Arrington in the back of the end zone to give U-M a 7-0 lead with 8:56 left in the first quarter. Arrington's grab marked the fourth time this season that the Wolverines have scored a touchdown on their opening drive, including Arrington's 16-yard touchdown last week at Minnesota. Hart powered the Michigan ground attack, picking up 33 yards on six carries, while Henne was three-of-four passing for 27 yards during the drive. Breaston posted a pair of catches for 14 yards. The Wolverines avoided disaster deep in Spartan territory as what was initially ruled a Henne fumble was overturned at the Michigan State 13-yard line and deemed an incomplete pass. Michigan scored on the very next play.
The teams exchanged possessions for the remainder of the first quarter, with the Wolverines defense giving up only two first downs to the Spartans' spread offense. On Michigan's third possession of the game, Henne found Manningham along the right sideline for a 41-yard touchdown, stretching the Wolverine lead to 14-0 at 13:15 in the second quarter. The grab was a milestone for Manningham, marking the 50th catch of his career and his eighth touchdown catch of the 2006 season. The score, which came on second-and-eight, followed two rushes for a total of 13 yards by Hart.
The Spartans tried cutting the lead, but kicker Brett Swenson's 33-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left with 10:50 left until halftime. Prior to the miss, MSU put together a nine-play, 59-yard drive highlighted by Stanton's five pass completions for 68 yards. Receiver Matt Trannon was Stanton's primary target, snagging a pair of catches for 43 yards on the drive.
Michigan took advantage of the Spartans' missed field goal, going on a season-long 13-play scoring drive that covered 73 yards, capped off by a 24-yard field goal by senior kicker Garrett Rivas (Tampa, Fla./Jesuit HS) with 3:39 left in the second quarter. The drive featured a 22-yard run by Hart, which proved to be his longest of the afternoon. Rivas originally netted a 36-yard field goal earlier in the possession, but a personal foul penalty gave the Wolverines a first down at the Michigan State 11-yard line. The field goal moved Rivas into third place on Michigan's career points scored list (311).
Out of the halftime break, Manningham and Henne hooked up for another touchdown, this time on a 27-yard pass play, on the Wolverines' first possession of the second half. The eight-play scoring drive covered 76 yards and pushed the Wolverines' lead to 24-0 with 11:12 remaining in the third quarter. Beating his defender into the middle of the end zone, Manningham snatched the pass out of the air after it was deflected by an MSU defensive back. Sophomore tailback Kevin Grady (Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids HS) added two carries for 14 yards on the possession in addition to Hart's 18 yards on two carries.
Michigan State responded with their first points of the afternoon, coming from a one-yard plunge by tailback Jehuu Caulcrick at 3:51 in the third quarter to cut the U-M lead to 24-7. On the drive, the Spartans converted three third-down attempts, in addition to a 20-yard completion from Stanton to receiver Kerry Reed on fourth-and-sixth. The touchdown was the first rushing touchdown allowed by the Wolverines this season.
The Michigan lead stretched to 31-7 on a 40-yard touchdown run by Minor with 55 seconds left in the third quarter. Stretching right before cutting the play back left, Minor raced for the corner pylon before diving in for the score. The touchdown was Minor's first of his career and marked the longest Wolverine touchdown rush since 2003. U-M chose to keep the ball on the ground during the drive with all six offensive plays coming from the rushing attack. Hart opened with two carries for 16 yards on the drive, and Grady followed with three for 26 yards.
Following exchanges in possession that included an interception by Adams, MSU cut the Wolverine lead to 31-13 on a two-yard touchdown run by Stanton with 7:53 left in the game. The key to the Spartans' possession was a 39-yard pass completion to Terry Love on their first play from scrimmage during the drive. Stanton's touchdown came on third down following two solid plays by the Michigan defense to keep MSU out of the end zone from one yard out.
Stanton's score would be the final points of the afternoon for either team as Michigan worked in younger players while running out the clock. Hall's interception at 4:08 sealed the 31-13 Wolverine victory.
Michigan will hit the road next week in a match-up against Penn State in State College, Pa. The Saturday night (Oct. 14) game will be shown on ABC Sports beginning at 8 p.m. EDT. The game will mark the first time the Wolverines have traveled to Beaver Stadium since registering a 20-0 shutout in 2001.
Contact David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423