Michigan State's Spartans Staged Comebacks To Win 6 Of Their 11 Games And Become Bowl Bound
The 1966 team won its first 9 games on the way to a 9-0-1 record after Notre Dame and Michigan State fought to a 10-10 tie in "The Game of the Century". Those of us who are old enough remember that Irish coach Ara Parseghian decided to play for a tie with a field goal in the last minute rather than risk defeat. His decision will remain in sports history forever as one of the most gutless calls made by a coach.
Michigan State's season was over after the Notre Dame tie, but Parseghian had one more game to play that he knew would be an easy victory, so he settled for the tie, and Notre Dame was voted both the AP and UPI (now Coaches Poll) National Champion. Michigan State finished second in the Vikings Super Bowl Jerseys polls, but Alabama was also shafted as the Crimson Tide ended year unbeaten and untied at 11-0-0.
A week after its win over Northwestern this year, Michigan State would travel to Iowa and take an uncharacteristic 37-6 pounding that allowed the Hawkeyes to run up a 30-zip halftime lead as Kirk Cousins threw 3 picks, one of which became a 66-yard pick 6.
The Spartans, to their credit, returned to their winning form to knock Minnesota 31-8, Purdue 35-31 and Penn State 28-22 and finish the year at 11-1. Their win against the Nittany Lions came at Happy Valley in Pennsylvania. They are among only 5 other teams with records as good Lions Super Bowl Jerseys as 11-1 - Stanford, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Nevada are all also 11-1.
There is another major, little publicized point that signals the continued improvement of the Michigan State squad, and that is the apparent fact that coach Mark Dantonio had never won a game following a bye week in his head coaching career until the Purdue game. That includes his first 3 years at Cincinnati and his first 3 years at Michigan State.
Michigan State had to come from behind to win 6 of its 11 games this year. The Spartans beat Notre Dame (after being down 7), Wisconsin (down 7), Michigan (down 3), Illinois Bills Super Bowl Jerseys (down 3), Northwestern (down 17) and Purdue (down 15).
Unbeaten Auburn was behind in 8 of its 12 games, and came from being down at least 13 points 3 times before winning. Being able to overcome adversity is one indicator of a championship team. The fact that Michigan State did it 6 times is noteworthy.
In a season that now has only 3 unbeaten, major teams left - Oregon (11-0), Auburn (12-0) and TCU (12-0) - having one loss does not seem like that big of a deal. In terms of won-loss records, Michigan State is among the top 8 teams in the country.
Now the Spartans must patiently wait until they learn what bowl game they will be invited to, and then make a decision whether to accept the bid. They will play in a bowl game, it is just a question of who their opponent will be, and where they will play.