No. 8 Michigan State will square off with long-lost rival No. 11 Wisconsin at noon on Saturday.
Both teams have each beaten a powerhouse this season, with Wisconsin downing then-No. 5 LSU 16-14, while MSU defeated then-No. 18 Notre Dame 36-28 last Saturday.
The MSU-UW series has taken a lengthy four-year break due to division realignment within the Big Ten conference, with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers in 2014.
The Spartans lead the all-time series record at 30-22 over the Badgers. Since 2006, MSU holds a 4-3 edge over Wisconsin, only outscoring the Badgers 212-209 in the seven games combined. UW hasn’t won in East Lansing since 2002.
Let’s refresh your memory with five noteworthy showdowns within the last decade.
September 29, 2007: 37-34 Wisconsin
This was a battle of the undefeateds, with 4-0 Michigan State marching into Camp Randall Stadium to take on No. 9 Wisconsin.
The Spartans faced a 10-point deficit heading into the “Jump Around”-infested fourth quarter. MSU cut the lead to three after a Brian Hoyer touchdown pass and would later tie the game at 34 with a Brett Swenson field goal.
Swenson’s number was called on again to drill another game-tying field goal, but he missed it from 53 yards out.
The Spartans would get the ball back but failed to move the chains after a Hoyer incompletion on fourth down with under two minutes left. Wisconsin ran out the clock to preserve the 37-34 victory.
November 1, 2008: 25-24 MSU
No. 21 Michigan State welcomed a struggling 4-4 Badgers ball club at Spartan Stadium. Dantonio and company sought vengeance after their close loss in Madison in 2007.
MSU once again faced a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. They fought and clawed their way back with a Javon Ringer touchdown and a Swenson 50-yard field goal to cut the margin to two.
The Spartans were in field goal range with under one minute left. After Kirk Cousins connected with BJ Cunningham on third down with 25 seconds remaining, poor time management kicked in as the Spartans’ special teams unit rushed onto the field for a Mayday field goal try with no timeouts in their pocket.
A mental breakdown occurred on the Wisconsin sideline as Badgers coach Bret Bielema inexplicably called a timeout with 12 seconds left. This gave the Spartans a chance to catch their breath and take their time. Bielema’s critical mistake paid off for MSU, as Swenson booted the game-winning 44-yard field goal and prevailed 25-24.
October 22, 2011: 37-31 MSU
Personally, this is my favorite game in the series. This was another battle of the undefeateds as No. 6 Wisconsin rolled into East Lansing with quarterback sensation in Russell Wilson. The No. 16 Spartans also had a senior quarterback hotshot in Kirk Cousins.
Unlike the 2007 and 2008 matches, Michigan State nursed a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter. But Wilson, along with a gritty Badgers defense, stormed back to tie the game at 31 apiece.
The game would come down to a Hail Mary on Wisconsin’s side of the field. On the last play of the game, Kirk Cousins launched a rocket towards the end zone. The Spartans’ prayers were answered as the Hail Mary bounced off of BJ Cunningham’s face mask and into the hands of Keith Nichol short of the goal line.
The play was initially ruled that the ball carrier did not cross the goal line, but was overturned after a video review. MSU triumphed in the dark, 37-31.
December 3, 2011: 42-39 UW
Sweet, sweet revenge. That’s all that was on No. 15 Wisconsin’s minds heading into the inaugural Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis, Ind. Both teams shared the conference title in 2010 without a championship game. It was a good old-fashioned shootout, with the two rivals combining for fifty points in the first half alone.
Down five with under five minutes remaining, Wisconsin faced a do-or-die situation: fourth down and six, one that they needed to convert in order to stay alive. Russell Wilson rolled out to his left and chucked the ball across the field. Jeff Duckworth, the unforeseen hero, made a fantastic catch in traffic. This led to the go-ahead touchdown by running back Montee Ball and the Wilson-Jacob Pedersen combo worked to perfection for the two-point conversion.
Nursing a 42-39 lead late in the fourth quarter, Wisconsin was focused on milking the clock and leaving Lucas Oil Stadium happy. They were unable to do so, punting back to MSU’s Keyshawn Martin, who returned the ball inside the Badger five-yard line with the clock on their side.
However, there was a penalty on the play, called on Spartan Isaiah Lewis for running into the punter. Dantonio’s aggressive call to send the punt block unit came back to bite him big time, as Wisconsin was awarded an automatic first down. The Badgers took a few knees and the rest was history, as they punched their ticket to the Rose Bowl for the second straight year and secured a 42-39 win over No. 13 Michigan State.
October 27, 2012: 16-13 MSU
This was the most recent game between No. 25 Wisconsin and Michigan State. Both squads could not meet the high expectations for the 2012 campaign after electrifying 2011 seasons, limping into Camp Randall Stadium with .500 marks.
In an offensive slugfest, the Badgers held a 10-3 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Wisconsin students did not have much to jump around to, however, as MSU marched down the field and scored a huge touchdown off of a shovel pass from Andrew Maxwell to Le’Veon Bell.
Regulation wasn’t enough, as they went into overtime deadlocked at 10. The Badgers struck first with a field goal. The Spartans delivered in the clutch with Maxwell hooking up with Bennie Fowler in the end zone off of a perfect back-shoulder throw. The Spartans won the ugly contest 16-13, snapping Wisconsin’s 21-home game winning streak and notching their first win in Camp Randall Stadium since 2001.