Photo courtesy of Michigan State athletics
Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio called it quits on Tuesday night after 13 seasons as the head man in East Lansing.
Dantonio inherited a team that was coming off three straight losing seasons and five in seven years. During his tenure, Dantonio won 115 games and more than 2/3 of the contests he coached in.
Dantonio led the Spartans to 12 bowl games, seven ranked finishes, six 10-win seasons, two major bowl victories, two Big Ten titles and one College Football Playoff appearance. In what will be a 3-part series, we look back on Dantonio’s best wins at Michigan State.
On Thursday, we started the series by counting down Nos. 15 to 11. In this piece, we’ll be counting down his best Michigan State wins from No. 10 to No. 6:
10. Michigan State Outlasts Georgia in Outback Bowl Thriller
(17) Michigan State 33, (16) Georgia 30
Jan. 2, 2012 (Triple-Overtime, Outback Bowl, Tampa)
Trailing 27-20 with less than two minutes to go, Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins marched the Spartans 85 yards in 10 plays to force overtime. With 19 seconds left in regulation, Le’Veon Bell scored from a yard out to tie the game at 27. After Cousins was intercepted by Bacarri Rambo in overtime, Blair Walsh missed a 42-yard field goal that would have won the game for the Bulldogs. The teams traded field goals in the second overtime. In the third overtime, Dan Conroy connected on a 28-yard kick to put the Spartans in front. Michigan State then blocked Walsh’s 47-yard attempt to seal the victory.
9. Michigan State Tops Rival Michigan in Overtime
(22) Michigan 20, Michigan State 26
Oct. 3, 2009 (Overtime)
Michigan State was 1-3 and desperate for a win as rival Michigan invaded East Lansing to kick off October 2009. The Spartans led 20-6 in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines drew even with a pair Tate Forcier touchdown passes in the final 4:03, including the tying toss to Roy Roundtree with two seconds left in regulation. In overtime however, Chris L. Rucker intercepted Forcier in the end zone. Larry Caper capped the Spartans’ victory with a 23-yard touchdown run on the third play of Michigan State’s possession. Caper scored twice in the win.
8. Spartans Fool Notre Dame on Overtime Fake
Notre Dame 31, Michigan State 34
Sept. 18, 2010 (Overtime)
After Notre Dame’s David Ruffer had given the Fighting Irish a 31-28 lead in overtime, Michigan State faced a 4th-and-14 from the Notre Dame 29-yard-line. Dantonio sent kicker Dan Conroy out for what seemed like a 46-yard field goal attempt. Conroy never kicked the ball. Instead, holder Aaron Bates took the snap and fired a strike to wide open Charlie Gantt for the game-winning walk-off touchdown. Notre Dame’s Dayne Crist passed for 369 yards and four touchdowns in the win, but his team turned the ball over three times.
7. Shorthanded Michigan State Rallies Past Undefeated Ohio State in Columbus
(9) Michigan State 17, (3) Ohio State 14
Nov. 21, 2015
Michigan State was without starting quarterback Connor Cook as it headed to Columbus to take on undefeated Ohio State with the Big Ten East division on the line. The Spartans held Ohio State to 132 total yards and five first downs, but trailed 14-7 in the fourth quarter. Gerald Holmes’ 2-yard run early in the quarter capped a lengthy drive and tied the game. After forcing a late 3-and-out that gave the Spartans the ball inside Ohio State territory, Michigan State was able to melt more than four minutes off the clock to set up Michael Geiger’s game-winning 41-yard field goal as time expired. The contest would ultimately decide the East division as the Spartans went on to win the Big Ten.
6. Scott’s Late TD Lifts Spartans to Big Ten Crown
(5) Michigan State 16, (4) Iowa 13
Dec. 5, 2015 (Big Ten Championship, Indianapolis)
For three quarters, no touchdowns were scored in the 2015 Big Ten Championship. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Iowa struck paydirt on an 85-yard touchdown pass from C.J. Beathard to Tevaun Smith to go up, 13-9. After an exchange of punts, Michigan State put together a 22-play, 82-yard, 9-minute drive for the ages. After quarterback Connor Cook converted a fourth down with his legs, L.J. Scott’s 1-yard touchdown run three plays later put the Spartans ahead for good with 27 seconds remaining.