Eight Greatest Games in MSU-UM Rivalry

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr vehmently argued that the clock should have expired and that the clock operator inappropriately stopped the clock but despite his protests, State lined up for one last play.

Warning: Michigan announcers Frank Beckman, Jim Brandstatter on the call

EAST LANSING - While the Michigan vs. Michigan State series has been overshadowed by the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, this series has produced some of the greatest games in college football.

Just in recent memory several of these contest have had far reaching implications on both programs.

GSN took a look back at some of the great games in the series.

8. 2002 Michigan 49, Michigan State 3

The humiliating blowout loss littered with personal fouls and undisciplined play was the end of the short-lived Bobby Williams era as Williams was fired following the loss. He took over the program after Nick Saban left for LSU and coached MSU to an impressive 37-34 Citrus Bowl win over #10 Florida. While he recruited strongly, Williams was over his head as a head coach and his tenure ended badly. Morris Watts took over and finished 1-2 Both joined Saban as assistants at LSU at the conclusion of the season.

7. 1978 Michigan State 24, Michigan 15

After two straight losses to UM, MSU coach Darryl Rogers knew he would have his best team since taking over for overmatched Frank "Muddy" Waters as head coach, so he told a group of boosters that the "A-squared" that UM hails from stood for "Arrogant Asses".

That inflamed the Wolverines into a frenzy, but Eddie Smith, Kirk Gibson and Company were too much for Michigan. The win helped MSU (8-3) to a share of the Big Ten Championship but they didn't go to the Rose Bowl due to NCAA probation. Michigan (10-2) came back to defeat Ohio State and take MSU's spot in the Rose Bowl where they lost to USC 17-10.

6. 1983: Michigan 42, Michigan State 0

After proclaming "We knocked their socks off" in his first recruiting battles with Michigan, new Michigan State head coach George Perles promised to restore the Spartans program to prominence. Perles got a rude greeting from Michigan's legendary coach Bo Schembechler who fired the first salvo in a what would become a long-simmering feud.

5. 1984: Michigan State 19, Michigan 7

On the heels of three straight losses and sporting a 1-3 record, Perles rallied the troops and dealt Michigan (3-1) a stunning loss which derailing the Wolverine's season. Michigan limped to a 6-6 finish including a 24-17 loss that allowed BYU (13-0) to win the National Championship. MSU went on to lose to Army 10-6 in the Cherry Bowl at the Pontiac Silverdome and also post a 6-6 record.

4. "King Saban"
1995: Michigan State 28-Michigan 25

After being forced out by President Peter McPherson after the discovery of NCAA grade tampering violations, Perles could only bitterly watch from a distance as former protege Nick Saban took over the program and promptly whipped UM in his first matchup. Tony Banks (Ravens) threw for 318 yards including a 25-yard TD pass to Nigea Carter to give the Spartans the come from behind win over the Brian Griese led Wolverines.

Saban, Michigan State greatest coach since Duffy Daughtery, took State to three straight bowls and in 1999 a 34-31 win over Michigan. He used the 9-2 season as a springboard and jumped to LSU saying he could never win state supremecy with Big Brother in Ann Arbor. Saban moved to the NFL Miami Dolphins and back to college football as the current coach of Alabama.

3."Can't Kick"
Michigan 34, Michigan State 31

John L. Smith might still be Michigan State's head coach if he had a kicker on this day. John Goss missed three field goals including a 37-yarder that would have won the game in overtime for the Spartans. When his counterpart Garrett Rivas got his chance, he nailed a 35-yarder to give UM the edge.

Michigan running back Mike Hart cemented his reputation as a Spartan-killer rushing for 218 yards after ironically coming back from an injury. Smith said he nearly turned to walk-on kicker Nick Mayer before Mayer told him his "groin hurt" and he wasn't sure he could make it.

2. "The Trip or the Slip?"
1990 Michigan State 28, Michigan 27

A controversial and often replayed game in this series, Perles (4-7 vs. UM) had his Spartans ahead of new UM head coach Gary Moeller 28-27 with time expired. Moeller could kick the extra point and take a tie, or go for the win. Moeller decided to roll the dice for the win. Elvis Grbac spotted Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard breaking on a slant route, but Howard became entangled with corner Eddie Brown and the Spartans ran off with the "W".

"I saw six-foot, five (inch) Elvis Grbac back there about to dump it in there for an easy two points and I'm thinking there's no way I can go back to East Lansing if I give up this play," Brown told Booth Newspapers years later. "So I tripped him and I tried to act like I tripped and fell."

Brown went on to three Arena League titles with the Tampa Bay Storm and the Buffalo Destroyers and is a coach at Willow Run (MI) high school.

2001 Michigan State 26, Michigan 24
Michigan (6-1) entered the game ranked 4th in the BCS standings and cruising through the Big Ten schedule when leading 24-20, Jeff Smoker (who had been sacked 11 times in the game) engineered a drive that appeared to come up short. Smoker scrambled to the UM two-yard line and spiked the ball with apparently :01 remaining on the clock.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr vehmently argued that the clock should have expired and that the clock operator Bob Stehlin inappropriately stopped the clock, but despite his protests, State lined up for one last play.

With Wolverines chasing him all over the field, Smoker found T.J. Duckett (211 yards rushing) all alone in the right corner of the endzone for the winning score and East Lansing erupted in a weekend long celebration. Bitter UM players slung their helmets in disgust and Wolverines assistants berate the referees. To this day, UM fans refer to Stehlin as "Spartan Bob."

The win culminated a streak of five wins over UM since 1990, MSU best streak in recent memory and was arguably Williams finest moment as a head coach.

Supplemental information from Wikipedia.com
FALLOUT:After completion of the game, University of Michigan Head Coach Lloyd Carr petitioned the Big Ten head office to review the rules regarding official timekeeping. Previously, the home team appointed an individual of their choosing to keep the official time in the pressbox. However, as a result of the clock issue during the game, the Big Ten changed its timekeeping policy for the 2002 season. Now, time is kept on the field by a neutral official appointed by the Big Ten. The official can be recognized by his red hat and earphones.

In addition to agreeing to change its policy on timekeeping, the Big Ten began a study on the feasibility of an instant replay system. In 2004, the Big Ten was the first conference to begin a trial replay system for conference games only. In 2005, most NCAA division 1A teams had the option of using instant replay for their games. Finally, in 2006, instant replay became standard across all of Division 1-A.

CONCLUSION: Years after the game, Big Ten officials told The Detroit News that, upon further review, the clock operator acted appropriately. Three years following the game, Dave Parry, the conference's coordinator of football officials, said, "that play, as much as we've put that under a high-powered microscope, was correct. We could not prove that timer wrong."[2]

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