Monday, October 19, 2020

Great moments in MSU sports history: 2013 Big Ten Championship game

An upset over No. 2 ranked Ohio State sent the Spartans to the Rose Bowl

March 30, 2020
Then-senior linebacker Denicos Allen celebrates the Big Ten Championship win Dec. 7, 2013, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Spartans defeated Ohio State, 34-24. Photo by Julia Nagy. Design by Daena Faustino.
Then-senior linebacker Denicos Allen celebrates the Big Ten Championship win Dec. 7, 2013, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Spartans defeated Ohio State, 34-24. Photo by Julia Nagy. Design by Daena Faustino. —

Michigan State has canceled all sports activities as our community deals with the COVID-19 crisis. In a time when sports have ceased, The State News is looking back at great moments in Michigan State sports history. Soon, we’ll be back to a world with sports, but for now, the past will have to do.


We'll be compiling these moments into a bracket with the MSU community voting on the best one, starting on March 31, via Twitter.

Today, we’ll be looking at Spartan football's Big Ten Championship win over Ohio State that sent them to the Rose Bowl.

Date: Dec. 7, 2013

Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

Matchup: No. 10 Michigan State Spartans (11-1) vs. No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0)

The background: A year earlier the Spartans were looking at a very different situation. At 7-6, with a 3-5 conference record, they were on the outside looking in at the Big Ten Championship.

Though they closed out the season with a win in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, it was a frustrating 13 games.

During their offseason banquet, coach Mark Dantonio told his team they would be “the ones”. He implied that the Spartans would earn the seventh-year coach a bid to the 100th Rose Bowl, and the Spartans' first since 1988.

Dantonio spoke the Spartans' trajectory into fruition.

After going into the season unranked and doubted, the Spartans won 11 of their first 12 games, only falling once in a 17-13 loss to Notre Dame early in the season. The 11-1 record was enough for a shot at the Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl appearance.

They had come far, riding the high of sophomore Connor Cook at quarterback, but they had to get past a 12-0, No.2-ranked Ohio State, who was at the doorstep of playing in the National Championship. All they had to do was stay perfect.

The game: Like any great game should be, it was a battle. Each quarter sung a different song as each team took their runs.

The Spartans started out with a punch to the Buckeyes' jaw. A 17-0 run to start the game put them comfortably ahead, as the No.1 defense in the nation effectively shut down the Buckeyes' Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde-led offense.

But the Buckeyes were No. 2 for a reason.

They showed that in the middle quarters, gaining the lead and scoring 24 unanswered points. However, 24 points was the lowest from Ohio State that season. 

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In the fourth quarter the Spartan defense held the Buckeyes to just 25 yards. They were up to every challenge the Buckeyes presented.

The Spartans regained the lead early in the fourth quarter on a Connor Cook-Josiah Price connection from nine yards out.

Late in the fourth quarter Jeremy Langford sealed the game and capped off a 17-0 run with a 29-yard touchdown. It was the dagger for Ohio State’s National Championship hopes.

Dantonio’s proclamation before the season rang true.

Behind Cook's 304 yard, three touchdown performance and the Spartan defense holding Ohio State to lows in both points and total yards, the Big Ten Champions smelled roses.

“I live for my players,” Dantonio said. “Our players, I’m so happy for them. They made a lifetime moment tonight for all of us — all of us had that moment, our fans, our players. 

“It will be a moment that we’ll never forget.”

The aftermath: Though the upset against Ohio State rumbled through the nation and shook the core of college football, the Spartans' biggest moment was yet to come.

The 100th Rose Bowl. The Spartans chance to be “the ones” against No. 7 Stanford in Pasadena, California.

A fourth down stand from former walk-on Kyler Elsworth secured roses for the Spartans.

A 24-20 victory left Connor Cook an MVP and put the defining moment on Dantonio’s legacy.

“You win with toughness,” Dantonio said. “There’s no question about that. You win with toughness, physically and mentally, and I thought we did that tonight.”



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