Historic Upsets and Wins: Memorable Moments in Michigan State History

Michigan State University

Michigan State University is known for its strong athletic programs, particularly in the realm of basketball and football. But beyond the national championships and dominating teams, there have been moments in Michigan State history that have left fans and sports enthusiasts alike in awe. These are the historic upsets and wins that have not only shaped the university’s sports legacy but have also captivated the hearts of fans for generations.

From the Spartans’ early days to more recent history, here are some of the most memorable moments in Michigan State sports.

The Miracle on Ice – 1980

Long before the movie Miracle depicted the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team’s unlikely victory over the Soviet Union, Michigan State students witnessed their own miracle on ice. In February of that year, the Spartans faced off against the number one ranked Michigan Tech Huskies in a fierce hockey game. Despite trailing behind by a score of 5-3 in the final period, the Spartans experienced an incredible turnaround and tied the game with minutes to spare. The game ended in a 5-5 tie, but it was considered a win for the Spartans, who had never even defeated Michigan Tech before. The game is still regarded as one of the greatest hockey games in Michigan State history, and the term Miracle on Ice has since been adopted by fans to refer to the unlikely comeback.

MSU vs. Notre Dame – 2006

In November of 2006, the Michigan State Spartans faced off against their long-standing rivals, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Spartans were the clear underdogs, as the Fighting Irish were ranked number seven in the nation at the time. But what transpired that day at Spartan Stadium was nothing short of a historic upset. In the first quarter, the Spartans managed to rack up a 17-0 lead, which they maintained for the rest of the game, ultimately defeating Notre Dame with a final score of 37-7. The Spartans’ victory over their fierce rival was not only a major upset but also a moment that ignited a new level of fervor and pride among Michigan State fans.

Basketball National Championship – 1979

In 1979, Michigan State had a standout basketball team led by coach Jud Heathcote and star player Magic Johnson. The Spartans made a historic run in the National Championship Tournament, stunning the nation with their dominant plays and unwavering team spirit. The team went on to defeat the top-ranked Indiana State Sycamores 75-64 in the final, claiming their first national championship title. The game became known as the meeting of two college basketball legends, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, who had a long-standing rivalry that later transferred to the NBA. In addition to being a momentous win for the Spartans, the 1979 National Championship game also marked the beginning of a new era in college basketball, as it was the most-watched college basketball game in history at the time.

MSU vs. Michigan – 2015

The rivalry between the Michigan State Spartans and the University of Michigan Wolverines is one of the most intense in college sports. In October of 2015, the two teams met for their annual football game, and what occurred during the final ten seconds of the game was nothing short of a historic upset. With the Wolverines leading with a score of 23-21, Michigan punted the ball to Michigan State’s Jalen Watts-Jackson, who ran the ball all the way back for a touchdown as the clock ran out. The crowd erupted in disbelief and the Spartans claimed a victorious 27-23 win. The play has gone down in history as the Troublesome Snap or Discovery Channel Bloopers and is regarded as one of the most epic moments in Michigan State’s football history, further fueling the heated rivalry between the two universities.

Final Thoughts

Michigan State University has a rich history in sports, with countless memorable moments that have inspired, united, and entertained fans for decades. From the Miracle on Ice to the 2015 win over Michigan, these upsets and victories have not only cemented the Spartans’ place in the world of college athletics but have also left a lasting impact on the university’s legacy. As Michigan State continues to produce exceptional athletes and teams, one can only imagine what historic and unforgettable moments are yet to come.


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