Sometimes you just want to beat your rival, doesn't matter how. And that's exactly what Michigan did.
I think the most important thing to mention is this -
For the first time since 2006, the Michigan Wolverines were not physically overmatched by the Spartans of Michigan State. This ongoing physical domination, so prevalent at the line of scrimmage and in the rough treatment of Denard, was the recent defining factor of this matchup. Denard looking good early season? Doesn't matter, MSU will punish him horribly. Michigan defense playing tough? Doesn't matter, because when the Spartan run game gets going downhill, the Wolverines will inevitably give up yards upon yards.
On Saturday, the Wolverines finally pushed back. Does it help that Andrew Maxwell isn't playing at a high level? Yes. Does it help that the MSU offensive line is not the monster it was in 2011? Yup. But giving up barely over 300 yards and making key fourth quarter stops were not exactly things we've come to expect when Michigan plays Michigan State.
You want an illustration of my discussion? Watch Le'Veon Bell on a goal line sweep on third down late in the game, watch him get blockers and a head of steam as he heads to the corner...and consider that over and over these past few matchups, Bell and his ilk would always find their way to the end zone. Always. For four straight years.
Not this year.