WATCH: Five Famous Finishes In The M-MSU Rivalry
Michigan and Michigan State square off for the 114th time Saturday in East Lansing with both teams coming in ranked in the top ten and undefeated, and if history holds true, it'll come down to the last play.
Since 1990, the rivalry has had five famous last-minute finishes, which kept people from both sides of the great divide talking for days, usually with one side bitching, and the other side shrugging it off.
1990 -- The Pass Interference Call That Wasn't
Elvis Grbac, Desmond Howard, and the Michigan Wolverines seemed destined for great things that season, as they came into the game in Ann Arbor undefeated and ranked number one. But someone forgot to tell the Spartans, who held the Wolverines at bay, and led 28-21 until six seconds were left and Grbac hit Derrick Alexander in the end zone for a touchdown that made it 28-27. Coach Gary Moeller decided to go for two. Grbac had eventual Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard open in the end zone, however, Howard couldn't find the handle on the ball, as it appeared he was tripped by the Spartans Eddie Brown. Howard and the Wolverines fans hollered for pass interference but the call never came. You be the judge.
THE VERDICT: It was interference, AND Howard should have caught the pass.
With 6th Ranked Michigan leading 24-20 with time running out, Spartan quarterback Jeff Smoker ran toward the end zone but was tackled before he made it. With the clock running out, Smoker lined up the Spartans and appeared to have spiked the ball with one second left to stop the clock, allowing State one more play. T. J. Duckett caught a pass on the last play of the game to give the Spartans the upset. Michigan fans were adamant that the clock should have run out long before Smoker spiked the ball, but got help from the East Lansing clock keeper who stopped it so they could get the play in.
THE VERDICT: Maybe there was clock shenanigans, but UM should have never allowed Sparty back in the game. An obvious face mask penalty earlier in the drive gave MSU new life.
2004: The First Overtime Game In The Rivalry
Michigan staged a furious rally at the Big House in Ann Arbor, scoring 17 points in under four minutes to tie the game at 27, only to have the Spartans get into field goal range for the last play of regulation. The kick was no good, sending the game to overtime, which saw the teams go back and forth before Edwards caught another TD pass, after which the Wolverines tacked on the two-point conversion, and they held the Spartans to win the game 45-37.
THE VERDICT: Sparty failed to shut the door on the Wolverines when they had the chance. It should have never gone to OT.
2012: The Kicker Scores All The Points
Michigan State's stifling defense kept the prolific Wolverines quarterback, Denard 'Shoelaces' Robinson, in check all afternoon until the last two minutes. Luckily, the Wolverines moved the ball just enough to get kicker Brendan Gibbons in range for three field goals and a precarious 9-7 lead before the Spartans ran a fake punt to get into field goal range and take the lead 10-9. Michigan got the ball back with 2:11 left and marched down the field to set up Gibbons for a 38-yard field goal attempt with five seconds. He converted to give Michigan a narrow 12-10 touchdown-less victory.
THE VERDICT: Never give Denard Robinson enough time to work his magic. The kid thrived best under pressure.
2015: "He Was Trouble With The Snap"
Michigan State was undefeated and ranked seventh in the country when they strolled in the Big House and couldn't get anything going against a stingy Michigan defense. But the Spartans stayed close and trailed 23-21 with just seconds left in the game, Michigan lined up in punt formation. All they needed to do was kick the ball and bring down any return attempt by the Spartans to win. But the Spartans went all in for the block and the Michigan punter dropped the snap and the ball bounced right into the hands of Jalen Watts-Jackson, who rambled into the end zone to stun the Michigan faithful.
THE VERDICT: The sad and bewildered Michigan fan with his hands on his head sums it all up. But it should have never come to this, as the Wolverines played it too safe and failed the get a first down that would have prevented this.
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