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Michigan State football: Top 5 games at Spartan Stadium since 2000

There have been some classics in East Lansing.



Michigan State football
© Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Spartan Stadium has witnessed some great Michigan State football games this century, but here are the best five.

Michigan State football fans have been very lucky and have witnessed many great games in recent history. From winning the Rose Bowl, Big Ten championships, a College Football Playoff berth, and regular season games with wild endings, Michigan State fans have seen it all. What makes this even better is how many elite games we’ve seen at home in Spartan Stadium.

Here are my top five games played in Spartan Stadium this century.

5. MSU vs. Michigan “Clockgate” (2001)

The 2001 edition of the in-state rivalry is one that will never be forgotten. Michigan State upset the No. 6 ranked Wolverines 26-24 on a last-second touchdown pass from Jeff Smoker to TJ Duckett.

Fourth-and-goal, ball on the 2-yard line with one second on the clock, Smoker scrambled and threw a wobbly pass that somehow managed to land in Duckett’s arms. However, should this play even have happened?

Michigan fans will be quick to tell you that it should have never happened and to be honest with you, I kind of agree with them. Michigan State, after their third down play, rushed to the line to try and spike the ball as time was counting down. According to the clock operator, the Spartans successfully spiked the ball with one second left. However, watching this sequence back it looks like the clock may have been stopped prematurely. At the end of the day, none of that matters, and all that is left in the record books is one iconic win over Michigan for the Spartans.

4. Michigan State vs. Oregon (2015)

With College Gameday in town, No. 5 Michigan State was able to beat the No. 7 ranked Oregon Ducks 31-28. This game is extremely memorable for a few reasons. First of all, non-conference top-10 matchups hardly ever happen, and for Michigan State to be able to host one on campus is amazing. Second, this was a payback game as Oregon narrowly beat Michigan State the season prior in Eugene.

Finally, this win helped propel Michigan State to arguably its best season in program history. This team went on to beat Michigan and Ohio State on the road, beat Iowa to win the Big Ten title, and make it to the program’s only College Football Playoff. A loss in this game likely means no playoff appearance, and who knows how the rest of the season would have gone. Spartan Stadium was electric this night, and I can still hear the roar of this crowd to this day.

3. Michigan State vs. Michigan (2021)

This is yet another game that will forever be remembered by Spartan Nation. Not only was College GameDay in town for this one as well, but every pregame show imaginable was here. The entire nation tuned in as they saw No. 8 Michigan State beat No. 6 Michigan, 37-33. Led by Kenneth Walker III’s five-touchdown performance, the Spartans shocked the Wolverines by coming back from a 16-point second-half deficit.

Michigan State was given zero chance of beating Michigan by the Wolverines’ fanbase. That fact made this win even more enjoyable. This win helped lead Michigan State to its best season since 2015. They finished the year 11-2 with a massive Peach Bowl win against Pittsburgh.

This is by far the biggest win in the Mel Tucker era and something I hope we get back to soon.

2. Michigan State vs. Wisconsin “Rocket” (2011)

It seems to be a trend that when College GameDay comes to town, good things happen to Michigan State football. This game was no different as it upset No. 4 Wisconsin, 37-31, on a miracle last play. On the last play of the game, Kirk Cousins threw a 44-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass caught by Keith Nichol.

This play helped put Michigan State on the map nationally. This win also helped secure the Legends division title and a trip to the inaugural Big Ten title game. Unfortunately, Wisconsin got the last laugh in that game, but don’t let that take anything away from this special game. This was another Mark Dantonio masterclass that helped jumpstart the Spartans on their great run for years to come.

1. Michigan State vs. Notre Dame “Little Giants” (2010)

This game was already amazing enough even before the miraculous ending. An overtime game against hated rival Notre Dame is already one for the history books. Adding the ending to this game makes it one of the best in program history.

In a play forever known as “Little Giants”, Michigan State lined up for a game-tying field goal in overtime. What happened next, some say, is the greatest trick play in college football history. Holder Aaron Bates threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Gantt on a fake field goal that shocked the world. Nobody saw it coming.

Pandemonium set in at Spartan Stadium and to this day I still remember screaming my head off and not stopping the “Go Green, Go White” chants until I got back to my car.

College football does not get any better than this.

I personally look back on this game as the beginning of Dantonio’s dynasty. Michigan State went on to win 11 games for the first time in program history and won the Big Ten title. This was the first of three conference titles Dantonio would bring to Michigan State. All the success and all the big wins he brought to East Lansing point back to this game and how it shaped our program. That is why this is the greatest game in Spartan Stadium this century.

Honorable Mention

Two Penn State games were close to making the list. The 2021 blizzard game may not have been a historic game, but the pictures and videos from that game are priceless. A huge win to get to 10 wins for the first time under Mel Tucker is one I will definitely remember for a long time.

The second Penn State game close to making the list was in 2017. Michigan State upset the No. 8 Nittany Lions on a last-second field goal as time expired. This game also had a four-hour storm delay which made for a weird yet rowdy atmosphere when the game resumed again.


Michigan State football: Washington game time, channel announced

Fans won’t be too thrilled about the channel.



Michigan State football
© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington vs. Michigan State football rematch is on Sept. 16, and the Spartans have revenge on their minds.

The game time for the Washington vs. Michigan State football game was just announced and is one I think most Michigan State fans will be happy with. The game will kick off at 5 p.m. ET on Sept. 16.

This is a great start time for Michigan State fans. That will give fans plenty of time to travel to East Lansing, enjoy a tailgate and get into the stadium. On top of that, the game will get down around 8 p.m. ET which is good for the crowd that does not like to be out late.

However, I think a lot of fans were hoping for a noon start time in this game. A noon start would have been a 9 a.m. local time for Washington, likely giving the Spartans a slight advantage. It’s no surprise seeing this big of a game scheduled in the evening to avoid that.

On top of the game time announcement, where the game will be aired on TV was also announced. This is where the good news ends. The Spartans game against Washington will only be available for streaming on Peacock. That means Spartan fans at home will have to pay to watch this game. However, a simple Google search showed me that Peacock currently only costs $20 for the entire year. A lot of Big Ten football and basketball games will only be available on Peacock this season, so that may not be a bad investment to make right now if you can.

What would a win mean for Michigan State football?

Michigan State will have revenge on its mind in this game. Washington beat the Spartans last season in Seattle 39-28. The game however did not feel that close. Michigan State made a late comeback to make the final score look respectable, but a lot of fans will tell you we never really stood a chance.

Washington will likely be a top 10 heading into this matchup, so Michigan State has a great opportunity in front of it. A win would would help spring the Spartans into the conference season with a lot of positive momentum.

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Jordan Hall hosts second annual free youth football camp (Video)

Jordan Hall is a legend already.



Jordan Hall
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Michigan State freshman linebacker Jordan Hall continues to show just why he’s one of the best out there.

Jordan Hall is already showing signs of being the next great Spartan on and off the field.

The Michigan State freshman linebacker was born and raised in Fredericksburg, Va. However, he most recently moved to Bradenton, Fla., to play football at IMG Academy.

This past weekend, Hall returned home to Fredericksburg to host his second annual free Jordan Hall Youth Football Camp.

Hall has already been making a name for himself on the field for the Spartans this spring. His play and effort has been praised by fellow players and coaches alike. IMG Academy has a long history of producing high-quality athletes. This makes Hall’s tenure in the program even more noteworthy. He became the first three-time captain in IMG Academy history.

When coaches are recruiting players, they are hoping to find the perfect mix of talent and character. You don’t become a three-time captain of a storied school like IMG Academy without having both.

In a recent interview with Spartan Shadows, Cryeeta Hall said of her son, “One of his favorite things he loves to do is teach the game of football to kids. He loves to coach.”

Michigan State fans are excited to see what Jordan Hall can contribute on the field, but his character off the field so far is creating just as much excitement. When you see a young man with the heart and determination to give back to his hometown, it lets fans know this is the sort of player you can to rally around and support. Mel Tucker has shown intentionality in his recruiting. He has a specific type of player that he’s looking for. Jordan Hall epitomizes a Tucker type of player.

Hall has the potential to earn immediate playing time this year as a true freshman. I’m not a betting man but if I were, I’d wager that we’ll see him as a team captain for the green and white sooner than later.

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Mel Tucker is best coach in the Big Ten when it comes to one stat

This may surprise you.



Mel Tucker

Mel Tucker is the best coach in the conference when it comes to this one surprising stat.

Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker is one of the best coaches in the Big Ten when it comes to close games.

This may surprise some considering two of Tucker’s three years at Michigan State have resulted in losing seasons. But the data shows that Tucker knows how to come out on top when the game is close.

He has been at Michigan State since 2020. During that three year timeframe he boasts a 10-1 record in games decided by 10 points or less which is the best record in the conference during that span.

Here is a list of all 11 of those games:


  • at Michigan (W 27-24)
  • vs. Northwestern (W 29-20)


  • vs. Nebraska (W 23-20)
  • at Indiana (W 20-15)
  • vs. Michigan (W 37-33)
  • vs. Penn State (W 30-27)
  • vs. Pittsburgh (W 31-21)


  • vs. Wisconsin (W 34-28)
  • at Illinois (W 23-15)
  • vs. Rutgers (W 27-21)
  • vs. Indiana (L 39-31)

How impressive is this really?

A 10-1 record when games are within 10 points is extremely impressive. The only loss on this list is Indiana from last season, a game Michigan State likely should have one. The Spartans ended up losing in overtime to the Hoosiers, but were a chip shot field goal away from winning in regulation. That is a field goal college kickers make almost every time, so Tucker’s one loss on this list could easily have been another win.

Regardless, 10-1 is the best winning percentage in games decided by 10 points or less in the Big Ten during that three-year span.

This is how the rest of the Big Ten teams fared during this same timeframe:

  1. Michigan State: 10-1 (.909)
  2. Maryland: 8-3 (.727)
  3. Iowa: 11-5 (.688)
  4. Indiana: 7-4 (.636)
  5. Purdue: 12-7 (.632)
  6. Ohio State: 3-2 (.600)
  7. Michigan: 6-4 (.600)
  8. Minnesota: 9-7 (.563)
  9. Rutgers: 7-6 (.538)
  10. Wisconsin: 6-7 (.462)
  11. Penn State: 5-7 (.417)
  12. Northwestern: 5-9 (.357)
  13. Illinois: 6-11 (.353)
  14. Nebraska: 5-16 (.238)

What does this tell us about Mel Tucker?

One thing this tells us is the Tuck is a great in game coach in tight situations. No coach goes 10-1 in close games by accident. Sometimes there is a lot of luck involved with winning close games, but that’s not necessarily the case when you win them this efficiently. Anyone can close a game out when you are up by 20, but not everyone can win a close game in the closing seconds.

This statistic is not all good though. Michigan State has won 18 games during the past three seasons. This means that over half of the games Mel Tucker has won at Michigan State have been within 10 points. For a program with extremely high goals, that fact is a little scary.

As I mentioned before, sometimes luck has to be on your side to win these close games. So relying on winning a lot of close games to have a great season is not a recipe for success.

One things for sure though, as long as Mel Tucker is the coach at Michigan State, we stand a very good chance at winning any close game.

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