Pride & Pettiness: Michigan State Spoiled Two Recent Ohio State Title Runs, But the Buckeyes Bounced Back and Got Even Both Times

By David Regimbal on February 15, 2021 at 12:30 pm
Zeke Shrug

You've made it to a slightly altered edition of Pride and Pettiness.

You'll typically see this feature on Thursday mornings, but we bumped it up this week to clear the way for a late-week spotlight on the upcoming Ohio State - Michigan basketball game this weekend. With that said...

We're still living in tough times. Some people like to cope by looking back at happy memories. I personally like to revisit moments of satisfying pettiness.

My philosophy is simple. From Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice:

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?

That we do, Jane. For today's chapter, we're putting a hot and bright spotlight on Michigan's other football team.

The Setup

Michigan State has this terrible habit of being the absolute worst at the most inopportune time.

This sentiment dates back to 1974 when the Spartans upset Woody Hayes' top-ranked Buckeyes in the final second of the game. It continued in 1998 when Nick Saban led Michigan State to an improbable come-from-behind victory over the once-again top-ranked Buckeyes.

But for the purposes of this article, we're focusing on Michigan State's two most recent title-blocking upsets.

The first came in 2013 when Urban Meyer put Ohio State's 24-game winning streak on the line against the Spartans in the Big Ten championship game. All the Buckeyes needed was a win to clinch their first appearance in the national title game since 2007.

You know the story. The Spartans raced out to a 17-0 first-half lead but Ohio State got off the mat. It looked like Meyer's squad completed the rally when it responded with 24 unanswered points, but Michigan State scored the game's final 17 points in the stunning 34-24 loss. 

After the game, Meyer was infamously photographed eating a Papa John's pizza in a golf cart. Spartans quarterback Connor Cook, who to this day walks freely among us instead of being thrown in prison for this treacherous action, disrespected Archie Griffin by snatching the MVP trophy from his hands during the post-game celebration.

Two years later, disaster struck again. 

This matchup didn't come in the conference title game, but rather as a leadup to the annual final-week showdown against Michigan. In miserable conditions, the game plan feloniously ignored the best Ohio State running back to dawn Scarlet and Gray since Eddie George, and the Buckeyes offense struggled as a result.

It was 14-14 in the final stages of the game when Michigan State kicker Michael Geiger came onto the field and drilled a 41-yard field goal to seal the upset. There are some who believe his spirit lives on in Ohio Stadium, forever running around the field doing his haunted windmill run.

The Pettiness

In both instances, Ohio State made quick work of getting even.

The Buckeyes 2014 season, you may remember, was a good one. An early setback against Virginia Tech made many think Ohio State was out of the first-ever college football playoff race, but they reentered the fray in a big way in East Lansing.

J.T. Barrett and Co. entered as underdogs but used big play after big play to conquer the Spartans and their elite defense. The Buckeyes piled up 568 yards of total offense (300 through the air and 268 on the ground) in a 49-37 assault. 

The postgame press conference produced this tremendously satisfying quote.

"Disappointing," Former Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. "We had big hopes. At the end of the day, we didn't get what we wanted. That's the way life is."

Two years later, a less satisfying game ultimately ended perfectly. The Buckeyes and Spartans went back-and-forth in a defensive battle that could've been knotted up late in the fourth quarter at 17, but Dantonio opted to go for two and take a late lead. That decision ultimately cost Michigan State the game because it failed to convert, and a game-sealing interception of Tyler O'Connor gave the Buckeyes a 17-16 victory.

As the two teams took the field for post-game handshakes, linebacker Raekwon McMillan and defensive end Jayln Holmes took it as an opportunity to dance on Michigan State's grave with Geiger's celebration.

This is very much Pride and Pettiness energy, and we're #HereForIt.

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