Two skids down, 1 to go for No. 20 Michigan

Two skids down, 1 to go for No. 20 Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Michigan has taken care of two skids in two seasons under Brady Hoke.

The Wolverines beat Michigan State 12-10 on Saturday, ending a four-game losing streak in the series, and ended the regular season last year with their first win over rival Ohio State in eight years.

Hoke acknowledged it was important to finally beat the Spartans, but wasn't ready to celebrate.

``We have bigger expectations,'' he said.

Michigan - ranked No. 20 in The Associated Press college poll Sunday - has one more drought it desperately wants to end.

The Wolverines (5-2, 3-0 Big Ten) haven't won a Big Ten title since 2004. They can take a big step toward winning the Legends Division and playing for the conference championship Dec. 1 in Indianapolis with a win at Nebraska (6-2, 3-1) Saturday night.

That's why kicker Brandon Gibbons, who made the game-winning field goal with 5 seconds left against the Spartans, was quickly moving his mind to the big picture following the team's first win in the series since 2007.

``Our bigger goal is to win the Big Ten championship, not just beat Michigan State,'' Gibbons said.

Michigan is the only Legends team without a loss in the division. The Cornhuskers and Iowa are tied for second place in the division with one setback each in conference play. Michigan has road games left against Nebraska, Michigan and the Buckeyes along with home games against Northwestern and Iowa.

As much as the Wolverines are focusing on winning their 43rd Big Ten title, junior receiver Drew Dileo acknowledged finally beating Michigan State and getting to keep the trophy that comes with the victory was satisfying.

``I haven't seen Paul Bunyan since I've been here at Michigan,'' Dileo said. ``It's good to get him in our trophy case where he belongs.''

The Spartans have had the 4-foot high wooden statue since 2008 and will have to wait more than a year - Nov. 2, 2013 - for an opportunity to get him back.

Michigan State (4-4, 1-3), meanwhile, has some work to do just to be eligible for a bowl this season after being ranked No. 10 last month.

The Spartans had a shot to win a school-record five in a row against Michigan with a fake punt deep their territory that set up a go-ahead field goal with 5:48 left on Saturday, but they couldn't do enough with or without the ball to hold on for the victory.

``This needs to make us stronger,'' coach Mark Dantonio said. ``I truly believe that.''

Michigan State has lost two straight games and three out of its last four by a total of five points and four of the last six games.

``I know it doesn't show on the scoreboard, but we're making strides,'' quarterback Andrew Maxwell said.

A turnaround will not be easy.

The Spartans play at Wisconsin and host Nebraska in the next two weeks and close the regular season at home against Northwestern and against Minnesota on the road.

``We've got to respond,'' linebacker Max Bullough said. ``I know it sounds like we say that every week, but it's true.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins and leadership, D-line potential

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins and leadership, D-line potential

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 21, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.

How the addition of Alexander affects the Redskins' DB depth chart—Adonis Alexander was brought into the NFL about a week and a half ago and in five days he’ll be on the practice field in Richmond. How much will missing OTAs and minicamp hurt him in comparison to, say, his former Hokie teammate Greg Stroman? I think that the plan is for this to be a “redshirt” year for Alexander to learn. But that was supposed to be the plan for Josh Harvey-Clemons and Chase Roullier last year and both ended up playing key snaps. 

Can the Redskins defensive line live up to its potential? Many NFL fans don’t appreciate the value of having a good defensive line. Redskins fans are not in that group because they have seen what you get when you try to build a defensive line with over-the-hill veteran free agents, low draft picks, and undrafted players. Fans will value the talent, youth, and depth on the 2018 D-line.  

10 Questions in 10 days: LB depth chart—This is another area where the Redskins have not invested much in recent seasons. At least this year they stepped up and re-signed starters Mason Foster and Zach Brown. They are the present. Are Shaun Dion Hamilton and Josh Harvey-Clemons the future? 

The pass rush must continue to be a strength for the Redskins—With the picture at the cornerback position is somewhat murky right now, the pass rush will be critical, especially in the early going. The outside linebackers lost a key reserve, putting the burden on Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan to continue to get pressure on Ryan Anderson to take a leap forward in his second season. 

Tweet of the week

Well, this tweet did sort of stir things up as did some of the things that Cousins said in an article by Dan Pompei on the Bleacher Report. The thing about Twitter is that there is no room for nuance. I was labeled a Kirk “hater” by some. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. On multiple occasions, I urged the team to sign him long term and highlighted the positive aspects of his play. 

But this thing about not having a “platform” to lead always struck me as a cop-out. Cousins talked about it during some press conferences while he was here. The length of your contract should not prevent you from embracing a leadership role. You’re getting paid to lead, just do it. Few in leadership positions in business or in the military know where they will be a year from now. They embrace the role while they have it and Cousins should have done the same. 

The fact that I don’t like this one aspect of Cousins doesn’t mean that I don’t like him overall. He’s a good quarterback and I think he will have success with the Vikings. I think that the price got to be too much for the Redskins and the decision to move on to Alex Smith was sound or at least the best they could do after it became apparent that he was not going to sign here. But it’s not all one or the other. It is possible to see the positive and negative of Cousins. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler


Mike Sellers, whose seven receiving touchdowns in 2005 were the most by a Redskins running back since the merger, was born on this date in 1975.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 5
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 19
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 42

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 50 days. 

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Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

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Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

Vernon Davis has long been a fan favorite in the D.C. area since his University of Maryland days. The 34-year-old is almost always well-dressed and respectful to the media. 

More recently, he has been outspoken about his interest in acting after his football career. A true renaissance man who just so happens to be a force in the National Football League. 

In April, NBC Sports Washington ran into Davis at the Team USA Awards where he was serving as guest speaker. 

He took his smooth nature to a whole new level Tuesday while vacationing in Ocean City, Md. with his girlfriend Kayla. 

Dressed in all white on the beach, Davis proposed in an epic way. 

The best motivation I ever had. #shesmyrock

A post shared by Vernon Davis (@vernondavis85) on

Check out the whole video produced below. We won't spoil it for you, but there were skydivers involved. Take a look: 

Davis will suit up for his third season with the Redskins when training camp opens July 26 in Richmond.