Wisconsin and Michigan state have played some classic games in recent years, and here are some of the best.
When you think of Big Ten rivalries Michigan State and Wisconsin doesn’t pop into your head like the blue blood match ups of MSU-Michigan or Wisconsin-Minnesota, but its safe to say that these schools don’t really care for each other, and for warranted reasons.
The last five match ups between the two schools have been incredible. Whether you’re a fan of either school, or just a fan of college football you might recall the history of these two teams.
So for your sake, I’ll take you back and show you the game on Saturday will be worth your attention. If you don’t have the Big Ten Network already, I suggest you get it soon!
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Tolzien’s Big Day
The overall series between the two schools is 30-22 to Michigan State, and the last 5 meetings have been decided by an average of 6 points. In 2009 the two schools met in Madison for the first of many thrillers to come.
In a breakout game for Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien, the Badgers defeated Michigan State 38-30. Tolzien threw for 243 yards and four touchdowns in the game but quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol combined to throw for 4 as well to keep the game tight, but three interceptions from the duo was too costly and the Badgers squeaked out a victory at home.
Spartans Show Heart Without Their Leader
With a hungry taste in their mouth #24 Michigan State welcomed #11 Wisconsin to East Lansing in 2010. Michigan State was without head coach Mark Dantonio who was in the hospital after a scare with a heart attack.
Keshawn Martin sparked MSU with a 74 yard punt return for a touchdown to give a lead 13-10 followed by a Kirk Cousin touchdown throw to close out the half. With 2:41 to go the Spartans led 27-24. On a 4th and 1 at the goal line after an 84 yard drive Cousins hit BJ Cunningham to give the Spartans a 34-24 lead. This would prove to be enough as the Badgers turned it over on downs on the ensuing possession.
Heartbreak for Some, Elation for Others
The most notable match ups came in the 2011 season as the two teams met twice over the course of the year. The first match up was again at East Lansing. The Badgers came in undefeated and ranked #6 in the country, the Spartans at #16.
Wisconsin struck twice quickly to give the Badgers a lead early. It looked as though the Badgers dream season would continue, but the heartbreak was just starting in reality. It began with Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson committing an intentional grounding in their own end zone leading to a safety. Quickly after Kirk Cousins found Keshawn Martin on an end around to give the Spartans their first touchdown.
The Spartans later blocked a punt for a touchdown to give them a 23-14 lead to end the half. In the fourth quarter the Spartans struck the Cousins to Cunningham connection again and took the lead to 31-14.
A ray of hope shined for the Badgers as Wilson scrambled for a touchdown with just over 8 to play. With 1:29 to play Wilson dumped a pass off to Montee Ball after driving down the field to tie the game at 31-31.
What happened on the ensuing possession was one of the biggest heartbreaks in Wisconsin Football history (it pains me to write it) and a shining moment for the Spartans.
With four seconds to play the Badgers dropped 3 safeties back to the goal line. Cousins took the snap at the 50 yard line and rolled right before chucking a Hail Mary deep to the end zone.
Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis mis-timed his jump and the ball knocked off a scrum of Spartans in the end zone and into the hands of Spartan Reciever Keith Nichol at the goal line where he plunged to break the plane of the end zone with Badgers pushing back.
The referees marked the ball down at the goal line, but instant replay would end up being the deciding factor. In what felt like an eternity for a replay, the refs saw Nichol broke the plan and sealed a 37-31 win for Michigan State. An instant classic, the Spartans left on top but the Badgers would be back.
Heartbreak For Some, Elation For Others: The Rematch
The two teams met again in Indianapolis later in the season with much more on the line, the Big Ten Championship. The Spartans came in ranked #13 in the country, the Badgers #15.
Both schools poised for a rematch similar to a few weeks ago. The Badgers struck first on a Russell Wilson to Jeff Duckworth touchdown after a drive led by Montee Ball.
The game would go back and fourth for most of the 1st half, and the Spartans led 29-21 to start the third until Wilson hit Abbrederis on 3rd and 17 on a 53 yard touchdown pass. The Spartans would retake the lead however, and kept it early into the late 4th quarter.
With time winding down, the Badgers trailed 34 to 39 and were faced with a 4th and 5 from the 50 yard line. Wilson rolled out and threw a hail mary-esque pass down the field to Jeff Duckworth, who caught it at the 7 yard line.
On the very next play Ball scored and the Badgers converted the 2 point conversion to give them a 42-39 lead. It would prove to be enough as the Badgers held on to take the Big Ten Championship and headed to the Rose Bowl.
Spartans End the Streak
the last match up was in 2012. It was an overall disappointing season for both schools but the game still held some merit as Michigan State handed the Badgers their first home loss since 2009.
It was by no means a pretty game, as the Spartans won 16-13 in overtime behind Andrew Maxwell’s back shoulder throw to Benny Fowler. The Badgers offense was no match for the Spartan defense as quarterback Danny O’Brien was on the turf most the game and Montee Ball was stagnant in the running game.
The Next Chapter
The Wisconsin Badgers and Michigan State Spartans will square off for the first time since 2012 this Saturday, and for the fans of these two schools the hype could not be bigger. While much of the focus is being spent on Michigan and Ohio State, these two programs have been just as big a part of the Big Ten tradition.
Michigan State coming off a win against Notre Dame, and Wisconsin with a win over a top 5 team already under its belt means both teams are hungry to prove themselves as a contender in the Big Ten. As history shows you, if its anything like previous meetings that this game will be the premier match up come Saturday.