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Kyle Rowland | The Blade | October 25, 2016

Last year's loss to Michigan State still haunts Michigan

  Michigan St. topped Michigan on a last-second mishandled punt fumble recovery returned for a touchdown.

ANN ARBOR -- Ten seconds have lasted an entire year for the Michigan football team.

It's not a lot of time. Not much can be accomplished in such a short snapshot. A Ferrari can accelerate to 132 miles per hour in that span, and so, too, can Jalen Watts-Jackson.

The Michigan State folk hero seemed to use another gear as he wove away from Michigan players on his unforgettable 38-yard run to the end zone one year ago, providing college football with one of its most unimaginable finishes.

"I was hoping to never be a part of a play at the end of the game, whether it's a Hail Mary or a lateral 10 times or a blocked punt, where defeat snatches victory away at the very end," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. "I was hoping to go my whole career without that happening. But obviously that didn't happen."

Michigan's played 13 games since then -- winning 12 -- but those 10 indelible seconds have remained on the minds of many.

"Those last couple seconds are still boiling," senior running back De'Veon Smith said. "We still taste it in our mouth."

It was such an extreme gut-punch that Michigan, which had a bye the next week, barely could function in the ensuing days.

Time has healed bruised feelings from the immediate aftermath, but below the surface remains a desire to punish a bitter rival who inflicted intense pain.

"Michigan State is standing in the way of [our goals]," senior defensive end Taco Charlton said. "We're going to get their best shot and we're going to be ready."

Finally, Michigan will be presented Saturday with an opportunity to put one of its most painful moments in the background and move forward.

MORE: Harbaugh says Dantonio has done one of the 'best coaching jobs ever'

"This is a big game for us, a championship type of ballgame," Harbaugh said. "Our preparations will need to be at their best."

The Spartans, who have won seven of the past eight meetings against Michigan, stumble into this year's game having lost five straight. It's the program's longest losing streak in a quarter century.

Adding to Michigan State's misery isn't frowned upon in Ann Arbor. Not ever, but especially not after punter Blake O'Neill's gaffe and the proceeding mayhem. It's a rivalry where distaste for the opponent is learned at a young age.

"I wasn't taught to hate 'em. It was just, 'You can go anywhere you want, just not [Michigan State or Ohio State],'" redshirt freshman Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. said.

As if the Wolverines needed any additional incentive, only the fifth-year seniors have experienced a victory against Michigan State.

"That's a motivator in itself," Charlton said. "To go up there and finally get that win and continue toward a Big Ten championship -- that's our goal."

MORE: Michigan jumps to No. 2 in latest AP Top 25

Las Vegas says it won't be a memorable game -- Michigan is favored by three touchdowns. But as rivalries go, the end result can be unexpected.

"It's a tough environment. Their fans go crazy," Charlton said. "No matter what the record is, they're going to give us their best shot. It's not going to be an easy game. You see what happened when we played Ohio State [in 2014]. We gave them our best shot and we almost did something that no one gave us a shot to do."

All it takes is 10 seconds.

This article was written by Kyle Rowland from The Blade and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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