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Top Games in Spartan Stadium History

Oct. 16, 2013

Spartan Stadium

Spartan Stadium, which is in its 90th season as home to Michigan State football, played host to its 500th Spartan game on Oct. 12 as the Spartans defeated Indiana, 42-28, on Homecoming.

In celebration of the 500th game at Spartan Stadium, Spartan fans were asked on Michigan State's official social media accounts their favorite games. Here's the list of the Top 10 according to the fans:


1. Oct. 22, 2011 - No. 15 Michigan State 37, No. 4 Wisconsin 31
2. Sept. 18, 2010 - Michigan State 34, Notre Dame 31
3. Nov. 3, 2001 - Michigan State 26, No. 6 Michigan 24
4. Nov. 9, 1974 - Michigan State 16, No. 1 Ohio State 14
5. Nov. 19, 1966 - No. 2 Michigan State 10, No. 1 Notre Dame 10
6. Nov. 14, 1987 - No. 13 Michigan State 27, No. 16 Indiana 3
7. Sept. 7, 1987 - Michigan State 27, No. 19 USC 13
8. Nov. 4, 1995 - Michigan State 28, No. 7 Michigan 25
9. Oct. 9, 1999 - No. 11 Michigan State 34, No. 3 Michigan 31
10. Oct. 10, 1987 - Michigan State 17, Michigan 11

Michigan State has compiled a 340-147-13 (.693) record since taking up residency in Spartan Stadium (formerly Macklin Field) in 1923. The Spartans have gone undefeated at home 18 times since the stadium opened in 1923, including back-to-back seasons in 2010 and 2011.

When the football team moved its home games from Old College Field, where games had been played since the 1902 season, it marked the end of a nine-hole campus golf course which was located on the south end of the Red Cedar River. The new stadium was officially dedicated on Oct. 10, 1924 against Michigan.

A series of projects paralleling the Spartans' rise to national football prominence enlarged the steel-and-concrete facility from its original 14,000 seats in 1923 to its present size. The first came in 1935, the year in which the stadium was officially named Macklin Field, boosting the capacity to 26,000. The 1948 enlargement raised the total to 51,000.

After 9,000 new seats upped the capacity to 60,000 in 1956, the upper decks were added to the east and west stands in 1957, bringing the capacity to 76,000. It also became Spartan Stadium that year.

Renovations during the summer of 1994 improved sightlines and comfort for fans, while reducing the capacity to 72,027. In 2005, a $64 million expansion project featured the addition of nearly 3,000 seats, including a 193-seat press box, bringing the stadium to its current capacity of 75,005.

Here's a look at some of the most memorable games in Spartan Stadium history.

No. 1 - Oct. 6, 1923: Michigan State 21, Lake Forest 6
In the first-ever game at Spartan Stadium, Michigan State defeated Lake Forest, 21-6. Here's the description of the first game from the M.A.C. Record:

An invigorating day, with the right amount of snap in the air for the best results on the field, but not too rough for the comfort of the spectators, nearly succeeded in filling the east stand. It was estimated that nearly 7,000 people saw the game, setting a new mark for a crowd at an athletic contest in East Lansing...While the game itself was of sufficient importance to hold the attention of the crowd there was another factor which established friendships for M.A.C. in as thorough a manner. Dressed at its best the new stadium was in position to display its advantages in an unmistakable manner. The setting of the field with evergreens crowding up over the east stand, the college farm to the south and the Red Cedar with its guardian rows of trees on the north brought more than one comment from those who had come primarily to see a football game and had been impressed with the other elements of the event.

No. 27 - Sept. 29, 1928: Michigan State 103, Kalamazoo College 0
Michigan State recorded its most lopsided win in Spartan Stadium history with a 103-0 shutout over Kalamazoo College in head coach Harry Kipke's debut.

No. 54 - Nov. 19, 1932: Michigan State 7, Detroit 0
Michigan State completed its first perfect season at Spartan Stadium with a 7-0 shutout victory over Detroit. The Spartans posted a 5-0 record at home, as they also had victories over Alma, Grinnell, Illinois Wesleyan and South Dakota.

No. 97 - Oct. 24, 1942: Michigan State 14, Great Lakes Naval Training Station 0
For Homecoming in 1942, Michigan State hosted a team from the Great Lakes Naval Training Station that featured several experienced players from both the collegiate and professional ranks. The Spartans were such heavy underdogs that head coach Charlie Bachman said before the game, "I am willing to wade the Red Cedar if we win." Turns out, he did just that. Here's an article from the Detroit Free Press:

Michigan State's Spartans caused one of the upsets of the 1942 football season today by defeating a bigger, more experienced and heavily favored eleven from the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, 14 to 0, in a Homecoming Day battle that was witnessed by 11,657. Charlie Bachman was a man of his word. At high noon of the very next day, he followed through with his promise. Wearing business clothes, a light jacket and swim fins on his feet, the Spartan coach waded across the waist-high river in water registering 40-degrees Fahrenheit, as hundreds of students and townspeople lined the banks to watch. "It was worth it," he later said. "I never thought the Spartans would trip Great Lakes."

No. 142 - Nov. 10, 1951: No. 5 Michigan State 35, No. 11 Notre Dame 0
Fifth-ranked Michigan State recorded its largest margin of victory over Notre Dame with a 35-0 shutout over the 11th-ranked Fighting Irish. Senior fullback Richard Panin led the Spartans with 150 rushing yards on just eight carries (18.8 avg.), including an 88-yard touchdown on Michigan State's first play from scrimmage. The Spartans were a perfect 5-0 at Spartan Stadium in 1951 and won the school's first National Championship with a 9-0 overall mark.

Jim Ellis and the No. 5 Spartans stomped No. 11 Notre Dame, 35-0, on Nov. 10, 1951 in Spartan Stadium.

No. 148 - Nov. 22, 1952: No. 1 Michigan State 62, Marquette 13
Michigan State completed its second-straight undefeated season in dominating fashion with a 62-13 victory over Marquette in the 1952 regular-season finale. The Spartans collected 601 yards of total offense, including 454 rushing yards, 11 shy of the team record at the time. Michigan State finished the season ranked No. 1 in both The Associated Press and United Press International polls to claim the consensus national title.

No. 150 - Oct. 17, 1953: No. 2 Michigan State 47, Indiana 18
Michigan State won its school-record 28th consecutive game with a 47-18 thrashing of the Hoosiers on Homecoming. The 28-game winning streak is still tied for the 15th longest in the history of college football and the second longest in Big Ten history.

No. 152 - Nov. 14, 1953: No. 4 Michigan State 14, Michigan 6
Michigan State extended its winning streak against archrival Michigan to four games with a 14-6 victory over the Wolverines. Coupled with No. 3 Illinois' loss at Wisconsin on the same day, Michigan State clinched a tie for program's first Big Ten Championship with a 5-1 mark and sealed a trip to the Rose Bowl. It also marked Michigan State's first home win over Michigan.

No. 153 - Nov. 21, 1953: No. 3 Michigan State 21, Marquette 15
The Spartans defeated Marquette, 21-15, to win their school-record 19th consecutive game at home, a record that still stands today. It was Clarence "Biggie" Munn's final home game; he collected a 33-4 (.892) mark at Spartan Stadium during his seven-year run at Michigan State's head coach.

No. 193 - Oct. 13, 1962: Michigan State 28, Michigan 0
Michigan State shut out Michigan for the second consecutive year, 28-0, extending its winning streak over the Wolverines to four games. The Spartans dominated on the ground, rushing for 391 yards, led by Dewey Lincoln's team-high 139 yards.

No. 209 - Nov. 13, 1965: No. 1 Michigan State 27, Indiana 13
Michigan State clinched its second Big Ten title with a 27-13 victory against Indiana in the 1965 regular-season finale. The Spartans finished its first undefeated Big Ten season with a 7-0 conference record.

Fan Vote: No. 5
No. 215 - Nov. 19, 1966: No. 2 Michigan State 10, No. 1 Notre Dame 10
The contest between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Michigan State was billed as "The Game of the Century" - and the final result, a 10-10 tie - would forever cement its place in history. A total of 33 players from Notre Dame and Michigan State would go on to play professionally in what perhaps was the greatest collection of talent ever in a college football game. A then-Spartan Stadium record crowd of 80,011 witnessed the historic tie, a game which is still ranked one of the best in college football history.


No. 225 - Oct. 26, 1968: Michigan State 21, No. 5 Notre Dame 17
With MSU clinging to a four-point lead in the final minutes of the game, fifth-ranked Notre Dame drove down the field and had first-and-goal from the 3-yard line with an opportunity to win the contest. The Spartans stopped the Irish four straight times in the game's final seconds, including Alan Brenner's forced fumble on fourth down that iced the game, as the Spartans held on for the upset win. Brenner, who also had an interception, 12 tackles and a 13-yard reception, was awarded the game ball by Coach Duffy Daugherty.

No. 249 - Nov. 25, 1972: Michigan State 24, Northwestern 14
Duffy Daugherty, MSU's all-time winningest coach with 109 victories in 19 seasons, won his final game on the sidelines as the Spartans topped Northwestern, 24-14, in the 1972 regular-season finale.

Fan Vote: No. 4
No. 259 - Nov. 9, 1974: Michigan State 16, No. 1 Ohio State 13 In one of the most thrilling games in MSU history, the Spartans stunned top-ranked Ohio State, 16-13. Trailing 13-9 with less than four minutes remaining, Michigan State faced a first-and-10 from its own 12-yard line. On the first play of the series, Levi Jackson broke through the right side of the line and sprinted down the sideline 88 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. But the game wasn't over. Ohio State got the ball one last time and drove right down the field to the 1-yard line with 26 seconds remaining. OSU then snapped the ball with 14 seconds left, but the Spartans stopped a dive attempt by Harold Henson, and Ohio State couldn't run another play in regulation as time ran out on the Buckeyes. OSU ran one final play that would up in the end zone; however, the Spartan players began running off the field before the play, convinced there was no time remaining. Although one referee signaled time had expired and one had signaled touchdown, after a 46-minute delay, the officials concurred what MSU had thought all along - that time had officially run out on Ohio State, giving Michigan State one of its greatest victories in school history.

Levi Jackson races 88 yards down the sideline for the game-winning touchdown as Michigan State beat No. 1 Ohio State at Spartan Stadium in 1974.

Fan Vote: No. 7
No. 331 - Sept. 7, 1987: Michigan State 27, No. 19 USC 13
In the first night game at Spartan Stadium, the Spartans upset No. 19 Southern Cal, 27-13, in the 1987 season opener, played on Labor Day. Lorenzo White rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns while Bobby McAllister accounted for 163 total yards, including a 9-yard TD run, to pace the Spartan attack. Michigan State produced 13 points off five Southern Cal turnovers.

Fan Vote: No. 10
No. 333 - Oct. 10, 1987: Michigan State 17, No. 12 Michigan 11
Michigan State recorded a school-record seven interceptions, including an MSU single-game record four by John Miller, as the Spartans held off Michigan, 17-11. The Spartans, ranked No. 1 in the nation in rushing defense, held the Wolverines to 93 rushing yards on 45 attempts (2.1 avg.). Meanwhile, Lorenzo White ran for 185 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Spartans.

Fan Vote: No. 6
No. 336 - Nov. 14, 1987: No. 13 Michigan State 27, No. 16 Indiana 3
With the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth on the line, Michigan State crushed Indiana, 27-3, sealing a trip to Pasadena. Senior Lorenzo White set a school record with 56 rushing attempts and collected 292 yards on the ground - the second-highest single-game total in MSU history.

Lorenzo White led the Spartans past Indiana in the final home game of the 1987 season to clinch a berth in the Rose Bowl.

Fan Vote: No. 8
No. 382 - Nov. 4, 1995: Michigan State 28, No. 7 Michigan 25
Tony Banks' 25-yard touchdown pass to Nigea Carter with 1:14 left lifted Michigan State past No. 7 Michigan, 28-25. MSU led 14-11 entering a wild fourth quarter that saw four lead changes. Banks completed 26-of-34 passes for 318 yards, including eight to Muhsin Muhammad for 116 yards. The game was voted by Spartan fans as the best in Spartan Stadium history in a 1998 online poll.

No. 395 - Nov. 29, 1997: Michigan State 49, No. 4 Penn State 14
Michigan State posted the highest single-game point total vs. Penn State in series history, led by the relentless rushing attack of the Spartans. Sedrick Irvin rushed for 247 yards while Marc Renaud gained 203 yards on the ground, as the two set an NCAA record for combined rushing yards in one game for two teammates.

Fan Vote: No. 9
No. 406 - Oct. 9, 1999: No. 11 Michigan State 34, No. 3 Michigan 31
In a battle of undefeated teams, No. 11 Michigan State raced out to a 27-10 lead after three quarters and held on for the 34-31 victory. Bill Burke passed for a school-record 400 yards and two touchdowns, while Plaxico Burress caught 10 passes for a school-record 255 yards and a score to lead MSU. The Spartans held Michigan to just 6 yards rushing on 21 attempts.

Bill Burke threw for a school-record 400 yards in the win over No. 3 Michigan in 1999.

No. 410 - Sept. 23, 2000: No. 23 Michigan State 27, No. 16 Notre Dame 21
With Michigan State down 21-20 and facing a fourth-and-10 from its own 32-yard line with 1:58 left in the game, Jeff Smoker completed a 68-yard touchdown pass to Herb Haygood for the game-winning score as the Spartans defeated Notre Dame in thrilling fashion, 27-21. T.J. Duckett rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown for MSU.

Fan Vote: No. 3
No. 419 - Nov. 3, 2001: Michigan State 26, No. 6 Michigan 24
Jeff Smoker threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Duckett on the final play of the game to rally Michigan State to a 26-24 win over sixth-ranked Michigan. MSU drove 56 yards over the final 2:09, helped in part by two major penalties committed by Michigan - a 15-yard facemask and an illegal participation. Shortly after completing a pass to Duckett for an 8-yard gain on fourth-and-3, Smoker rolled to his right and was brought down at the 2-yard line. With no timeouts left, Smoker hurried his team to the line and managed to spike the ball with one second left on the clock, setting up the game's final play. In addition to his game-winning touchdown catch, Duckett rushed for 211 yards, the most ever by a Spartan against the Wolverines.

T.J. Duckett and the Spartans celebrate after defeating Michigan on the last play of the game in 2001.

No. 461 - Nov. 17, 2007: Michigan State 35, Penn State 31
Trailing by 17 points in the third quarter, 24-7, Michigan State rallied for the 35-31 victory over Penn State to propel the Spartans to their first bowl bid since 2003. Brian Hoyer threw four touchdown passes, including three to Devin Thomas, tying a school record. Jehuu Caulcrick's 1-yard touchdown run with 4:08 left capped the comeback and sealed the win for MSU.

No. 471 - Oct. 3, 2009: Michigan State 26, No. 22 Michigan 20 (OT)
With the score tied at 20 in overtime, freshman running back Larry Caper broke through several tackles and raced 23 yards into the end zone to give Michigan State back-to-back victories over the Wolverines. MSU led 20-6 before Michigan rallied for two touchdowns in the final five minutes to send the game into overtime. The Spartans held the Wolverines to just 28 rushing yards and forced two turnovers, including Chris L. Rucker's interception in the end zone on Michigan's possession in overtime.

Larry Caper scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime as Michigan State topped Michigan in 2009, 26-20.

Fan Vote: No. 2
No. 477 - Sept. 18, 2010: Michigan State 34, Notre Dame 31 (OT)
Down 31-28 in overtime to Notre Dame and facing a 47-yard field-goal attempt by Dan Conroy, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio decided to call the trick play "Little Giants" - and the result was one of the most dramatic finishes in Michigan State history. Holder Aaron Bates threw a 29-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Charlie Gantt on the fake field goal, setting off a wild celebration on the field. With less than 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, MSU trailed the Irish, 28-21. Kirk Cousins capped off a four-play, 56-yard drive with a 24-yard TD strike to B.J. Cunningham to tie the score at 28 with 7:43 left in regulation. Cousins completed 23-of-33 throws for 245 yards and two TDs, while tailbacks Le'Veon Bell and Edwin Baker combined to rush for 204 yards and two scores.

Charlie Gantt - "Little Giants" - Sept. 18, 2010 - Michigan State 34, Notre Dame 31

No. 486 - Oct. 15, 2011: No. 23 Michigan State 28, No. 11 Michigan 14
Wearing Nike pro combat uniforms in bronze, black and green, Michigan State topped previously undefeated Michigan, 28-14, to tie a school record with four-straight wins over the Wolverines. Kirk Cousins threw for two touchdown passes and became the first Spartan starting quarterback to record three wins over Michigan. Edwin Baker led the Spartans on the ground with 167 rushing yards, including a 1-yard score. Isaiah Lewis sealed the win by intercepting a Denard Robinson pass and returning it 39 yards a touchdown with 4:31 left in the game.

Fan Vote: No. 1
No. 487 - Oct. 22, 2011: No. 15 Michigan State 37, No. 4 Wisconsin 31
With the score tied at 31 in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, it appeared that the Spartans and fourth-ranked Badgers would likely head to overtime. Wisconsin called a timeout with four seconds left, setting up one final play for Michigan State from the Badger 44-yard line. Kirk Cousins threw a deep Hail Mary pass up for grabs at the goal line on the game's final play, and off a deflection, the ball was caught by Keith Nichol at the 1-yard line; Nichol proceeded to fight his way against several Badger players past the goal line to score the apparent game-winning touchdown. The stadium held its breath as the play went under review - and celebrated as the call was upheld, giving MSU a 37-31 victory over previously unbeaten Wisconsin. Michigan State went on to win the inaugural Big Ten Legends Division title.

Wisconsin 2011
Keith Nichol - "Rocket" - Oct. 22, 2011 - No. 15 Michigan State 37, No. 4 Wisconsin 31



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