There are plenty of great rivalries in college football. But nothing compares to an in-state rivalry between two teams that also share a conference and play every season. That’s exactly what and get with the Michigan vs Michigan State rivalry. The Wolverines and Spartans have met over 100 times dating back to 1898 and currently battle it out for state bragging rights and the Paul Bunyan Trophy. Let’s take a look at some of the amazing, jaw-dropping moments this rivalry has given us over the years.
Comeback for the Ages (2004)
The no. 12 Wolverines dug themselves a 27-10 hole in this game. But a field goal, an onside kick, and a touchdown to Braylon Edwards got them back to 27-20 and woke them up. After getting a stop from the defense, another touchdown grab from Edwards tied the game at 27 and forced overtime after Michigan State missed a last-second field goal.
It was Edwards again who caught a touchdown pass in the third overtime. The Wolverines added a two-point conversion and finally got a stop against the Spartans to finish out a 45-37 triple-overtime win, scoring 35 of the game’s last 45 points.
No. 900 (2012)
This was a classic defensive struggle between Michigan and Michigan State. The Spartans thought they had written the game’s storyline when a fake punt in the fourth quarter led to a field goal that gave them a 10-9 lead. But the Wolverines ultimately got the ball back with 2:11 left on the clock and drove to the MSU 25-yard line.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio tried to ice Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons, but Gibbons nailed the last-second field goal to give the Wolverines a 12-9 win despite not scoring a touchdown. It was Michigan’s 900th win in program history, the first college football team to reach that mark.
No One vs No One (1990)
There was great controversy in this meeting, which was dubbed No One vs No One. The no. 1 Wolverines trailed 28-21 late before Elvis Grbac hit Derrick Alexander for a touchdown with six seconds left.
Michigan decided to go for the two-point conversion, only to have the ball fall incomplete after Desmond Howard was tripped by MSU cornerback Eddie Brown. However, no official saw the trip and no flag was thrown. As a result, the Spartans escaped with a 28-27 upset over the Wolverines.
Clock Gate (2001)
There was even more controversy in this game. Thanks to a couple of Michigan penalties, the Spartans were able to drive down the field while training 24-20 late in the game. Quarterback Jeff Smoker scrambled for the end zone but was stopped a yard short. MSU was able to spike the ball with one second left, allowing Smoker to find T.J. Duckett for the game-winning touchdown on the next play.
However, it was obvious that the clock had stopped before Smoker spiked the ball. Michigan State timekeeper “Spartan Bob” Stehlin had stopped the clock a tick early when time should have run out on the Spartans. Naturally, there was a huge uproar, as the Big Ten changed its rules so that a neutral start keeping time.
The Failed Punt (2015)
You’re 10 seconds away from beating your rival and all you have to do is successfully get a punt off. Sounds simple enough, but it wasn’t for Michigan punter Blake O’Neill. He failed to catch a snap that was a little high and was immediately swarmed by Michigan State players.
Jalen Watts-Jackson ended up with the ball and ran 38 yards into the end zone on what ended up being the final play of a 27-23 win for the Spartans. The look on the faces of the Michigan fans afterward said it all, and naturally, those stunned faces went viral.