What a gutsy and phenomenal call by Spartans Coach Mark Dantonio last night to win the game. Michigan State lined up for a 46 yard field goal attempt to tie the game in overtime, when P Aaron Bates pulled up after receiving the snap and threw a game winning 29 yard touchdown pass to TE Charlie Gantt. It was an amazing and unexpected call that could have turned out very bad for the Spartans. It did not fortunately and that call by Coach Dantonio will go down as one of the greatest calls in the history of MSU football. It will be remembered as a great call because it did work, but on the other hand it could have turned out to be one of the worst, if the Spartans did not execute that play to perfection.
It was a back and forth game as usual and another exciting battle between the Spartans and Irish, that again came down to the wire. This is becoming very common in this rivalry, in which each game seems to trump the one from the previous year. Notre Dame got on the board first with a 7 yard touchdown pass from QB Dayne Crist to WR Michael Floyd. Michigan State went scoreless in the first, but took advantage of a Crist interception and scored with 2:00 to go in the 2nd quarter. The Spartans marched 94 yards in 7 plays and capped off the drive with a 6 yard touchdown pass from QB Kirk Cousins to WR Keshawn Martin. This made it 7-7 heading into halftime.
The scoring really picked up in the 2nd half, as Edwin Baker electrified the Spartan faithful with a 56 yard touchdown run, 40 seconds into the 3rd quarter. This gave the Spartans a 14-7 lead and some short lived momentum to begin the half. Notre Dame came right back down in a 1:47 and scored on a 10 yard touchdown reception by TE Kyle Rudolph. MSU then controlled the clock by keeping the ball on the ground, in which they ended an 11 play drive that covered over six minutes with a 16 yard touchdown run by RB Le’Veon Bell. The Irish closed out the 3rd quarter with a 15 yard touchdown pass from Crist to WR Theo Riddick to make the score 21-21 heading into the 4th quarter.
Notre Dame came out in the 4th and scored on their first possession on another touchdown catch by their star wide receiver Floyd, this one covering 24 yards. MSU scored their final touchdown on a beautiful 24 yard pass from Cousins to WR B.J. Cunningham. He made this play with his feet, as he scrambled and threw an accurate bullet on the run. The score was tied 28-28 at the end of regulation and overtime would be needed to decide this one. The Irish had the ball first and MSU’s defense stepped up and forced them into a 33 yard field goal. Michigan State was stopped on 3 plays and Cousins taking a sack on third down probably had something to do with “the call” by Dantonio. He lost 7 yards on the play, so instead of a 39 yard field goal, it was pushed back to a 46 yarder. We all know what happened next and the rest is history. Final Score: MSU 34 ND 31.
Michigan State did pretty well defensively against the big two of Notre Dame (Rudolph and Floyd), even though they did score 3 touchdowns combined. They only had 160 yards receiving out of the 369 that Crist threw for on the night. The defense gave up a ton of passing yards, but held the Irish rushing attack to just over 100 yards. Cousins again was not at his best last night, but he still found a way to get the job done. His favorite targets last night were Martin, who had 8 receptions for 96 yards and Cunningham, who finished with 101 yards on 7 receptions. The Spartans again dominated the line of scrimmage and almost produced two 100 yard rushers in the same game for a second time this year. Bell finished with 114 yards on 17 carries and Baker ended the night with 99 yards on 14 carries. The Spartans still have not played their best ball, but victories are victories. All I know is that when they do put it all together, they will be one tough team to deal with!
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Written by David Lesmeister