Ten Years Later: A Look Back at Michigan State's Upset Win Over No. 1 Ohio State in 1998
Oct. 17, 2008
Ten years ago this fall, on a November evening in historic Ohio Stadium with more than 93,000 in attendance, Michigan State shattered the national title aspirations of Ohio State in one of the greatest upsets in Spartan history. The Spartans shocked the college football world with a dramatic 28-24 victory over top-ranked and undefeated Ohio State, handing OSU its only loss of the season. MSU scored 19 unanswered points in the second half in garnering its first win over a No. 1 team since 1990.
At first, it appeared the Buckeyes, who entered the game with an 8-0 record, would coast to another victory. They jumped out to a 17-3 lead after the first quarter, but the Spartans battled back to make it 17-9 going into the half, thanks to three first-half Paul Edinger field goals.
The momentum once again swung Ohio State's way at the 9:51 mark in the third quarter as Damon Moore returned an interception 73 yards for a touchdown, putting the Buckeyes up, 24-9. But that's all the No. 1 Buckeyes would get.
The sudden change of events started on what seemed to be a harmless punt, however, MSU caught a break when Craig Jarrett's 34-yard, line-drive kick hit a Buckeye, and the Spartans recovered the free ball near midfield.
Five plays later, Spartan quarterback Bill Burke threw a 23-yard TD pass to Lavaile Richardson as Michigan State pulled to within nine at 24-15 with 6:02 remaining in the third quarter. Burke finished the game with 326 passing yards.
OSU fumbled on its next possession - one of its five turnovers in the game - leading to an Edinger 49-yard field goal to make it 24-18.
With newfound confidence, the Spartans put together a 92-yard drive, capped by a 3-yard TD run by Sedrick Irvin, to take their first lead at 25-24 early in the fourth quarter.
The ball kept bouncing MSU's way as Josh Shaw's 22-yard fumble return to the Ohio State 18 set up Edinger's school record-tying fifth field goal, this time from 42 yards out, to give MSU a 28-24 advantage.
Meanwhile, the Spartan defense continued its great play in the second half. But it wasn't without a scare.
With 3:33 left in the game, T.J. Turner and Courtney Ledyard stuffed Ohio State's Joe Montgomery for no gain on a fourth-and-one, giving the Spartans the ball on their own 26. The Spartans could only muster one first down after getting the ball back, and David Boston's 26-yard punt return to the Buckeye 49 set the stage for Ohio State's final drive.
Two straight completions by Joe Germaine put Ohio State all the way to the MSU 15-yard line in the final seconds of the game. The script appeared to be written for a last-second comeback victory by Ohio State on its home field. Only it wasn't meant to be. The Spartan defense came through with three consecutive stops before Renaldo Hill intercepted Germaine's fourth-down pass on the goal line to seal the victory, silencing the Buckeye faithful.
Julian Peterson, who went on to earn All-America honors in 1999, had a breakthrough game for MSU. Upon replacing injured starter Robaire Smith in the first quarter, Peterson recorded a sack, caused two fumbles and had nine tackles.
"We were all in the zone," Peterson told Sports Illustrated. "We knew that if we played 60 minutes, we could beat the Number 1 team in the country."
Burke couldn't have agreed more.
"It's the kind of thing you'll never forget," said Burke, an Ohio native, after the game. "It was a game that you like to play in, that you dream about as a kid."
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