Michigan-Michigan State: Brian Lewerke first down was so close

Remember this? The spot heard ’round the world that helped decide Ohio State’s 2016 win over Michigan and sank the Wolverines’ playoff hopes?

In the aftermath, college football fans spent an incredible amount of time talking about what was and wasn’t a first down, people dug up dirt on the referees involved and Ohio State fans armed themselves with an automatic reply when faced with any insults from their rivals to the west: The spot was good.

While the first down that Michigan gave up that day was controversial, the one that helped Michigan State melt clock in the final minutes of a 14–10 upset in Ann Arbor was just as memorable but a little more indisputable. After fumbling the snap on a third-and-three near midfield, Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke scrambled to his left and was wrapped up by linebacker Noah Furbush short of the line to gain. But as Furbush brought Lewerke down, the QB landed on his own lineman, then on Furbush, and by the time Lewerke was marked down he was safely past the marker at midfield.

You can—somewhat clearly—see Lewerke roll over his lineman to get a narrow first down, but it was a painfully familiar scene for Michigan fans who must be incredulous at the thin margin of a crushing loss to a hated rival for the second year in a row. The fact that Sparty escaped the Big House with a 14–10 win, at least in part due to that roll, won’t sit well with Wolverines fans for a long time.

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