Michigan lost because punter Blake O'Neill dropped a snap. Michigan State picked the ball up and ran it into the end zone and won, and the Spartans won the rivalry game they've come to own in recent years.
What followed next is something that's grown all too common. Some Michigan fans took to social media to say awful things to O'Neill, wishing him ill will or pain or death. It got so bad that Michigan's athletic director released a statement about it.
As always, it's just a minority of fans. But they pop up every time this kind of thing happens, no matter the team. Some fans don't realize that it's really crappy to wish awful things on unpaid teenagers and 20-somethings trying their best.
But if you're out there saying mean things about O'Neill, you're not just a horrible piece of scum. You're also too stupid to rationally think about football. You're both morally despicable and really stupid, and that's a bad combination.
Blake O'Neill played a good game
O'Neill's mistake did lose the Wolverines the game. But the truth is, Michigan was in a position to win partly because O'Neill helped keep MSU out of the end zone earlier, at one point booting the hell out of the ball.
Michigan was outgained by Michigan State 386-230, and the Spartans had 20 first downs against just 10 by the Wolverines. MSU was consistently better at moving the ball, but O'Neill's punts put the Spartans in horrendous field position.
O'Neill averaged 44.5 yards per punt, pinned MSU inside the 10-yard line three times, and had zero touchbacks. On the drives following his seven punts, Michigan State only scored once. If his punts had been a bit worse, Michigan might not have been winning 23-21 with 10 seconds to go.
In the first quarter, O'Neill unleashed this 80-yard bomb, the second-longest punt in Michigan history:
That Michigan State drive ended at UM's 28-yard line, with the Spartans deciding to go for it on 4th-and-8 rather than attempt a 45-yard field goal. If O'Neill's punt had gone an above-average 45 yards, MSU might've been able to convert an easy field goal.
With five minutes left, O'Neill drilled a 48-yarder. On the next drive, the Spartans drove to the 36 before turning it over on downs. If O'Neill's punt had been merely good, MSU probably would've been able to kick a late go-ahead field goal.
O'Neill is a good player. His booming kicks kept Michigan in Saturday's game. If you tell him to transfer or break his legs or fall off a cliff or whatever, you're rooting for something that will make Michigan worse at football.
More college football for you
Come on, man, it was only kind of his fault
Let's look at the infamous play again:
Yeah, O'Neill booted the snap. He should've caught it. He also should've fallen on the ball instead of trying to punt it, as Jim Harbaugh said after the game, thus leaving Michigan State with a Hail Mary at best, though it's tough to make a spur-of-the-moment decision like that in an instant.
But it's worth noting that part of the reason he muffed it is because it was a bad snap. The ball was down by his shins. It's kinda hard to catch a ball thrown extremely hard at your shins.
The long snapper's job is to deliver the ball in a tight window so the punter can easily catch it, take his steps and get it away. Even if O'Neill caught the ball, the bad snap would've gotten him out of rhythm and out of his spot. He would've taken an abnormally long time and punted close to the rush. There's a decent chance the punt would've been blocked.
If a quarterback threw a pass too high and it glanced off a wide receiver's hand and got taken back for a game-ending pick six, I'm guessing the majority of the social media insults would be at the QB for the bad pass, because QBs are more publicly known.
I'm not saying this because I want Michigan fans to seek out the person responsible for the poor snap, long snapper Scott Sypniewski. As noted, that would make you a bad person.
I'm pointing this out because I want to point out that, if you're insulting O'Neill, you're not just bad people, you're also dumb. A simple thing happened, and you were too stupid to put in the thought required to properly analyze it. You blamed the first person you saw. You're the assholes who kick your dogs when they do something bad because you're too lazy to train them not to do bad things.