It was one of those incredible finishes that you’d always imagined, but never thought could be real. And if you watched football games for the rest of your life, you might never see it again. But somehow, on Saturday night, the Michigan State Spartans defeated rival Michigan in the last play of the game within the most unthinkable of circumstances.
Well, perhaps it’s not the most unthinkable thing that could have happened, but for fans on both sides (who are likely still reeling from the win/loss), it just didn’t seem possible.
But the impossible, nay, the inconceivable, has happened: After trailing the entire game, and on the verge of having perhaps an entire field and only ten seconds and maybe a play or two to traverse it, a flubbed punt by the Wolverines and resulting play gave the Spartans a chance to run the ball into the Michigan endzone for a touchdown and the win as time ran off the clock. In the span of just ten seconds, everything seemed to go from all is lost to some paradise found for Michigan State. And for the maize and blue, only the second win in the last seven years was within reach for the Wolverines over their rivals in East Lansing, but it was not to be.
Their first lead of the game was the only one that mattered, and MSU brings back the Paul Bunyan Trophy to Spartan Stadium for a final score of 27-23.
Michigan State played their best game in weeks, but still fell short in many aspects, and if not for a random improbable chance of luck, might be walking away with a very deflating loss and their first defeat this season – much of what was left being mostly meaningless in the grand scheme of it. Meanwhile, Michigan proves that while fans may have to wait another year for their first chance to beat Sparty in a while, they need not wait for much else, because Jim Harbaugh has shown that the Wolverines are back and better than they’ve been in years, well-ahead of schedule. One of Harbaugh’s biggest tests now will be responding to his first major loss after a massive build up (especially with a bye next week).
Meanwhile, Michigan State has to prove that they’re worthy of their ranking in the coming weeks, and that it’s not just dumb luck that has them in the Top Ten. Both teams still have plenty to do, but for this season, the rivalry in the state of Michigan is dormant once again, and both teams look to bigger fish to fry, with Michigan still having their season-ending battle against Ohio State on the schedule and the Spartans hoping to make it big in the playoffs.
But for tonight, and the next few days, just remember fans: You’re almost certainly not going to see something that happen again… at least not while you’re looking.
UPDATE: Jalen Watts-Jackson, who scored the game-winning score for the Spartans, also suffered a severe hip injury in the endzone. Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said after the game that it was either a dislocated or could be a broken hip.