ANN ARBOR, Michigan (Ticker) -- The longest game in Michigan history had many heroes. None was bigger than Braylon Edwards.
Edwards caught two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, then added another in triple overtime as the 11th-ranked Wolverines stunned Big Ten Conference rival Michigan State, 45-37.
"I knew the number they were dialing and I had to answer the call," Edwards said.
Edwards' performance didn't surprise his coach.
"Edwards made plays today that I don't think anybody else can make," said Michigan coach Lloyd Carr. "He made catches when he was well-covered. He was an All-American today - he has been all year. A couple weeks ago I said that he's the best player in the country. I said that, and I believe it."
Edwards, who had just eight catches his last two games, had 11 receptions for 189 yards for the Wolverines (8-1, 6-0 Big Ten), who trailed by 17 points with 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation before matching the biggest home comeback in school history.
"I've never felt like this after a game," said Edwards, who surpassed Anthony Carter to become the school's all-time leader in receiving yards. "I almost cried. It was magnificent. I'm from Michigan, so this is THE rivalry for me. It's also the second-last time I'll play in this stadium."
Michigan has won 14 consecutive home contests and has not lost to Michigan State at home since 1990.
In the third overtime, freshman Chad Henne found Edwards on a slant across the middle that the receiver took 24 yards for a score. Tight end Tim Massaquoi, who dropped a key pass in double overtime, snatched a high, hard throw from Henne on the ensuing two-point conversion.
"I went through my progressions and Braylon appeared right in my face," Henne said. "I decided, 'Why not get him the ball?'"
Edwards felt that he had no choice but the make the catch in the overtime.
"Being the older guy, a veteran and the leader and the person people look to, I had to make the play," Edwards said. "The line gave excellent protection and Chad put the ball right there. If I didn't make the play, it was my fault."
Hampered by an offensive interference call on tight end Eric Knott on second down, Michigan State (4-4, 3-2) needed to convert a 4th-and-8 to keep alive its final drive. But backup Damon Dowdell - thrust into action late in the second quarter after starter Drew Stanton suffered a shoulder injury - threw incomplete into double coverage, ending the contest.
A disappointed Michigan State coach John L. Smith gave credit to the Wolverines for making the plays when they had to.
"For the most part we controlled the game, but they got momentum and made some big time plays," Smith said. "When you do what they did, when they did it, that's the mark of a great team."
Henne was 24-of-35 for 275 yards and four touchdowns for Michigan, which moved one-half game ahead of idle Wisconsin atop the conference standings. The Wolverines, who are entering their bye week, do not face the Badgers, who have a better overall record and would earn the Big Ten's top bowl berth were they to finish in a first-place tie.
Michigan's Mike Hart, another true freshman, ran for 224 yards on 33 carries but sat out the final two overtimes with a bruised thigh. He has rushed for at least 200 yards in each of his last three games - a school record - and has 824 in his last four contests.
DeAndra Cobb ran 22 times for 205 yards and two scores for the Spartans but also was injured in the first extra period and did not return.
Michigan State's Dave Rayner was well short on a 52-yard field goal into the wind on the final play of regulation.
Cobb, who had a 72-yard run early in the first quarter, appeared to end the contest with a 64-yard score that made it 27-10 with 8:43 left.
After Garrett Rivas made a 24-yard field goal with 6:27 left,the Wolverines' Brian Thompson recovered the ensuing onside kick after it bounced off Michigan State's Jerramy Scott. Edwards then jumped over Jaren Hayes in the front right corner of the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown to pull Michigan within 27-20 just 15 seconds later.
"When we recovered the onside kick, I felt that it was not meant for us to lose," Edwards said. "That was huge."
Carr also said that the recovery of the onside kick was the key play in the comeback.
"There wasn't a bigger play in the game," Carr said. "If we don't get that, (Michigan State) has good field position, they can milk the clock and if they punt, they can pin us deep in our end. If we don't recover that, it's difficult if not impossible to win."
Following a defensive stand and a strong punt return by Steve Breaston, Michigan got the ball back at the Spartan 46 with 3:13 remaining. Hart ran 26 yards on the next play, and Edwards tied it with 2:59 to play on an identical jump-ball TD over Hayes.
Rivas opened overtime with a 34-yard field goal before Rayner countered with a 29-yard kick. The Spartans' Jason Teague scored on a three-yard run in the second extra period before Michigan's Jason Avant made a sensational catch in the back right corner of the end zone to tied it, 37-37.
The Spartans, who had won three of their previous four games, took a 14-7 lead on a five-yard run by Stanton with 2:56 left in the first quarter. Michigan State held a 17-7 cushion when Stanton was levelled by Wolverines linebacker LaMarr Woodley with 3:15 left in the half.
Stanton was 10-of-13 for 95 yards and ran 12 times for 80 yards and a score. Dowdell finished 8-of-13 for 72 yards.
"Stanton was doing great," Michigan cornerback Marlin Jackson said. "We had trouble containing their sprint passing, and when he went out that slowed that down."
Smith said that Stanton would be re-evaluated on Sunday, but he expected him to out for two to three weeks.
Michigan State guard William Whitticker said that the Spartans didn't lose confidence when Stanton was injured.
"It didn't affect us that much emotionally," he said. "We just wanted to go out there and play hard for Drew and Damon. (Dowdell) got out there and helped us put up over 500 total yards offense. ... We knew we can come back in with a second quarterback and with him we can do the job, too. He prepares every week just like Drew does."
Michigan trailed, 17-10, when Edwards fumbled after being hit by Hayes at the Spartan 22 midway through in the third quarter. Eric Smith recovered just before the ball went out of bounds, and the call was upheld after a replay.
The Wolverines, who entered the contest with the nation's third-best rushing defense at 71.6 yards per game, surrendered 368 yards on the ground and 535 overall.