Michigan State Spartans football

Michigan State Spartans football
2018 Michigan State Spartans football team
First season 1896
Athletic director Bill Beekman
Head coach Mark Dantonio
13th season, 101–45 (.692)
Stadium Spartan Stadium
(Capacity: 75,005)
Field surface Grass
Location East Lansing, Michigan
Conference Big Ten Conference
Division East
All-time record 69545344 (.602)
Bowl record 1215 (.444)
Playoff appearances 1 (2015)
Playoff record 0–1
Claimed nat'l titles 6 (1951, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1965, 1966)
Conference titles 11 (9 Big Ten, 2 MIAA)
Division titles 3
Rivalries Notre Dame (rivalry)
Indiana (rivalry)
Michigan (rivalry)
Penn State (rivalry) Ohio State Buckeyes
Consensus All-Americans 31
Current uniform
Colors Green and White[1]
Fight song Victory for MSU
Mascot Sparty
Marching band Spartan Marching Band
Website msuspartans.com

The Michigan State Spartans football program represents Michigan State University in college football at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level. The Spartans are members of the Big Ten Conference. Michigan State claims a total of six national championships (1951, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1965, and 1966); the AP Poll voted Michigan State as national champion one time (1952). They have been named national champions twice in the Coaches Poll (1952 and 1965). The Spartans have also won two Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championships (1903 and 1905) and nine Big Ten championships (1953, 1965, 1966, 1978, 1987, 1990, 2010, 2013, and 2015).

The Spartans home games are played at Spartan Stadium, which is located on the main university campus. Spartan Stadium has ranked among the NCAA's Top 25 in attendance for 61 consecutive seasons, from 1953 through 2016.[2] The Spartans' current coach, Mark Dantonio was hired on November 27, 2006. The team's iconic Spartan helmet logo has been ranked as one of the game's best.[3][4]


Early years

Starting as a club sport in 1885, football gained varsity status in 1896.[5] Early teams at the then Michigan Agricultural College (MAC) competed in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), which was chartered in 1888 and is the oldest existing collegiate leagues in the United States. Previously, in 1884, Albion College and Michigan Agricultural had played in the first intercollegiate football game held within the state of Michigan. The MIAA's other charter members included Albion, Olivet and Hillsdale Colleges. The Association's first season of competitive football was in 1894 which by then also included Eastern Michigan University (then Michigan Normal School) and Alma College; Kalamazoo College was added in 1896. In those early years the MAC Aggies could only accomplish one outright league football championship (1905) and share another with Albion (1903). The first decade of the 20th Century generally saw the MIAA and MAC being dominated by either Albion or Olivet Colleges. MSU left the league and became an Independent in 1907.

Chester Brewer revolutionized the football program during three different stints as head coach: 190310, 1917, and 1919. Considered a defensive genius, his teams posted shutouts in 49 of the 88 games he coached. John Macklin took over as head coach in 1911 and owned a winning percentage of .853 (295), which is the highest in Michigan State history.

Jim Crowley, one of Notre Dame’s immortal Four Horsemen, served as the head football coach at Michigan State from 1929 to 1933.[6] Charlie Bachman, another Notre Dame alumnus, succeeded Jim Crowley as head football coach at Michigan State, coming to East Lansing after a successful stint at Florida. A teammate of Knute Rockne, Bachman employed the Notre Dame system and forged 10 winning seasons in 13 years.

Clarence "Biggie" Munn (1947–1953)

Clarence Lester "Biggie" Munn took over as head coach of Michigan State from Charlie Bachman in 1947. His 1951 and 1952 squads won national championships. Munn retired from coaching in 1953 to assume duties as Michigan State's athletic director, a position he held until 1971. Each year, the Michigan State Spartans football team hands out the "Biggie Munn Award" to the team's most motivational player. MSU's Munn Ice Arena, built in 1974, is named in his honor. Munn was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1959, and, in 1961, he became Michigan State's first inductee into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. He authored the coaching textbook Michigan State Multiple Offense in 1953.

  • 1947–1950 In 1947, Munn and the Michigan State administration, led by university president John A. Hannah, approached Notre Dame president Father Cavanaugh to have his Fighting Irish play the Spartans for the first time since 1921. MSU initially offered to let Notre Dame take 80 percent of the gate, but Cavanaugh insisted they split the receipts down the middle. Munn was the only coach to beat Notre Dame head coach Frank Leahy three years in a row (195052). Starting with a 3314 win over William & Mary in East Lansing on October 14, 1950 Biggie Munn started his historic 28-game winning streak.
  • 1951 The 1951 team went undefeated and were elected the National Champions by the Helms Athletic Foundation; however, the rest of the polls voted for the Tennessee Volunteers, who lost in the Sugar Bowl to the Maryland Terrapins, but postseason games did not count at the time.
  • 1952 The 1952 squad continued Munn's undefeated streak going 9-0. Michigan State won a national championship for the second year in a row and for the first time in school history were voted #1 in both the AP and Coaches' polls. Munn was named the AFCA Coach of the Year, coaching MSU to 90 record and a national championship.
  • 1953 In 1953, Michigan State's first year of conference play in the Big Ten, the Spartans shared the conference title with Illinois and went to the Rose Bowl, where they beat UCLA, 2820. On October 24, 1953, Purdue upset the Spartans 6-0 ending Munn's 28-game winning streak. The Spartans won the first ever Paul Bunyan Trophy after beating rival Michigan 14-6 in East Lansing.

Shortly after the Rose Bowl victory, MSU's athletic director, Ralph H. Young retired. Munn stepped down from coaching to assume duties as athletic director and remained in that position until 1971. Munn named his assistant, Duffy Daugherty, as his successor to helm the football team. During his tenure as Michigan State's head football coach, Munn tutored 17 All-Americans. His teams have retained the school's top four season marks for rushing-yards-per-game: 1948 (304.5 yards/game), 1951 (293.9 yards), 1952 (272.4), and 1950 (269.3). Munn was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959.

During the 1950s when Detroit was known as the world's leading automobile manufacturer, Michigan State was often referred to as the nation's "football factory." During this era, the Spartans produced great players such as Lynn Chandnois, Dorne Dibble, Don McAulliffe, Tom Yewcic, Sonny Grandelius, Bob Carey, Don Coleman, Earl Morrall and Dean Look. In 1951, the Spartans finished undefeated and untied to claim a share of the national championship with Tennessee. A second consecutive undefeated season led to a consensus national title in 1952. The team was admitted into the Big Ten as a regular member in 1953, winning the league championship and defeating UCLA in their first Rose Bowl game. After the 1953 season, Biggie Munn, turned the team over to his protégé Duffy Daugherty.

Duffy Daugherty (1954–1972)

Duffy Daugherty (September 8, 1915 – September 25, 1987) replaced Biggie Munn in December 1953, following Munn's retirement to become Michigan State's athletic director. Daugherty would serve as the head coach at Michigan State University from 1954 to 1972, where he compiled a career record of 109–69–5. Duffy's 1965 and 1966 teams won national championships. Duffy's tenure of 19 seasons at the helm of the Michigan State Spartans football team is the longest of any head coach in the program's history. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984.

  • 1954–1964 After compiling a disappointing 3–6 record in Daugherty's first season in 1954, the Spartans improved and finished second in the Big Ten behind Ohio State in 1955 with an 8–1 record in the regular season. Michigan State received the conference's invitation to the 1956 Rose Bowl instead of the Buckeyes due to the conference's prohibition against consecutive trips to the Rose Bowl. In Pasadena, the Spartans defeated UCLA, 17–14, for their second bowl win in school history. From 1956 to 1964, Daugherty's Michigan State teams were usually good, three times placing second in Big Ten, but never captured the conference crown. The Spartans did, however, beat Notre Dame eight straight times between 1955 and 1963, a feat matched only by Michigan (18871908) and USC (20022009). On November 5, 1964, the NCAA found Daugherty's program at Michigan State guilty of NCAA infractions prior to and during the 1957, 1958, and 1959 seasons. Daughtery's football program was put on probation for three years following the 1964 decision.
  • 1965–1966 The 1965 and 1966 seasons were the high points in Daugherty's coaching tenure, if not in the history of Michigan State football. The 1965 team finished the regular season 100 and ranked first in the country, but was upset by UCLA in the 1966 Rose Bowl, 1412. Nevertheless, Michigan State was named national champions by the UPI and the National Football Foundation. The 1966 team began the season 90 and headed into their final game ranked #2 against #1 Notre Dame at Spartan Stadium on November 19. The #1 vs. #2 showdown, dubbed "The Game of the Century" by national media, ended in a 1010 tie. The Spartans did not play in a bowl game following the 1966 season due to Big Ten rules in place at the time that prohibited its teams from playing in the Rose Bowl in consecutive years and barred participation in any other bowl. Notre Dame and Michigan State were declared co-national champions of the 1966 season as a result of the 10-10 tie.
  • 1967–1972 Beginning with the 1967 season, there was a decline in the Spartans football program under Duffy. Daugherty's teams in the late 60s and early 70s consistently hovered around the .500 mark, with only his 1971 squad finishing with a winning record (65). Under pressure from MSU's administration, Daugherty retired after the 1972 season and was succeeded as head coach by Denny Stolz.

During Daugherty's time in East Lansing, he recruited and coached some of the best players in Michigan State's history, including Herb Adderley, Brad Van Pelt, Bubba Smith, George Webster, and Joe DeLamielleure. He was one of the first college football coaches to field a racially integrated team.

George Perles (1983–1994)

After returning from US Army active duty, Perles returned to Michigan where he enrolled at Michigan State University and played football under legendary coach Duffy Daugherty. Perles played the 1958 season before his playing career was cut short by a knee injury. Perles then started his football coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State before moving on to the high school ranks in Chicago and Detroit, where his St. Ambrose High School team won their first Detroit City League Championship in 1961. Perles returned to Michigan State as defensive line coach under his mentor, Daugherty.

In 1972, Chuck Noll, head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, offered Perles the position of defensive line coach. In Perles’ first season, the Steelers made the NFL playoffs for the second time in franchise history, the first since 1947, losing to the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game. In 1974, the Steelers won the first of six consecutive AFC Central division championships and also their first Super Bowl. Perles became the defensive coordinator for the Steelers in 1978 and then assistant head coach under Noll in 1979. During Perles' ten years with Pittsburgh (1972–1981), the Steelers won a then-record four Super Bowls and became known as the team of the decade for the 1970s, largely on the back of their "Stunt 4-3" defense designed by Perles.

Perles returned to Michigan State University on December 3, 1982. In 12 years, he led the Spartans to two Big Ten Conference titles, seven bowl games and a victory in the 1988 Rose Bowl. The 1987 season marked the Spartans' last outright Big Ten title until 2013. During the 1987 season Perles and Michigan State beat Southern California twice in the same season, once in the regular season and one in the Rose Bowl.

During 1994–1995, an extensive external investigation conducted by the law firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC. uncovered various infractions including grade tampering by an athletic department administrator. MSU president M. Peter McPherson fired Perles before the end of the 1994 season, and ordered the Spartans to forfeit their five wins for that season. Perles was found "not culpable" . Many fans and alumni believed he was treated unfairly. He later went on to be the founder of The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and is on the MSU board of trustees.

Nick Saban (1995–1999)

When Saban arrived in East Lansing, Michigan prior to the 1995 season, MSU had not had a winning season since 1990, and the team was sanctioned by the NCAA for recruiting violations committed under his predecessor and former mentor, George Perles.[7]

  • 1995–1997 – Beginning in 1995, Saban moderately improved MSU's fortunes, taking the Spartans to minor bowl games (all of which they lost by double-digit margins) in each of his first three seasons. From 1995 to 1997, Michigan State finished 6-5-1, 6-6, and 7-5. In comparison, MSU had finished 5–6, 6–6 and 5–6 (prior to NCAA forfeits) in 1992–1994.
  • 1998 – On November 7, 1998, the Spartans upset the #1 ranked Ohio State 28–24 at Ohio Stadium. However, even after the upset and an early-season rout of then-highly ranked Notre Dame the Spartans finished 6–6, including three last-minute losses featuring turnovers, defensive lapses, and special-teams misplays, and failed to earn a bowl invitation.
  • 1999 – Saban led the Spartans to a 9–2 season that included wins over Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State. Conversely, the two losses were routs at the hands of Purdue and Wisconsin. Following the final regular-season game against Penn State, Saban abruptly resigned to accept the head coaching position with LSU. Saban's assistant head coach and successor, Bobby Williams, then coached MSU to a Citrus Bowl victory over Florida, giving the Spartans an overall record of 10–2 for the 1999 season. It would be the best season in terms of wins for the Spartans since 1965, and it would see the Spartans reach their highest ranking since the 1966 team.[8] Future former NFL Head Coach Josh McDaniels served as a Graduate Assistant on Saban's 1999 coaching staff.

Saban never won a bowl game in his tenure at Michigan State, going 0-3 and losing those bowl contests by a combined 85 points.[9]

Mark Dantonio (2006–present)

On November 27, 2006, Mark Dantonio was hired from the University of Cincinnati to become Michigan State's new men's football head coach. Dantonio served as an assistant coach at MSU from 1995 to 2000 and was Ohio State's defensive coordinator during their 2002 national championship season.[10] Dantonio was also an assistant at Kansas and Youngstown State University. In 2010, Dantonio led MSU to earn a share of the Big Ten Championship after finishing the year in a three-way tie with Ohio State and Wisconsin. His 2011 team won their division and appeared in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game. His Spartans would win outright Big Ten Championships in 2013 and 2015 with victories in the 2013 and 2015 Championship Games. He has compiled a 8–3 record against the arch-rival Michigan. Michigan State's streak of four wins in a row, from the 2008 season through 2011, tied Michigan State's best in the rivalry. Dantonio's record also includes a 4–4 mark for the Megaphone Trophy, which goes to the winner of the Notre Dame rivalry game.

He is considered a defensive-minded coach and has been on the coaching staffs of Glen Mason, Jim Tressel and Nick Saban. As of February 2018, his contract runs through 2024. Dantonio makes approximately $4.3 million annually.[11]

Conference affiliations

Head coaches

Duffy Daughtery is MSU's all-time winningest coach with 104 wins. Daughtery was also the longest tenured coach at 19 years. Daugherty won four national titles while Clarence Munn won two; no other MSU coach has won a title. "Biggie" Munn leads coaches since 1940 with a .846 winning percentage. MSU's current coach, Mark Dantonio, is the third longest tenured current coach in the Big Ten at ten years.

Head coaching records

Coach Years Seasons Record Pct. Conf. Record Pct. Div. Titles Conf. Titles Bowl Games National Titles Conference
No Coach 1896 1 121 .375 010 .000 0 0 0 0 MIAA
Henry Keep 18971898 2 851 .607 521 .688 0 0 0 0 MIAA
Charles Bemies 18991900 2 371 .318 130 .250 0 0 0 0 MIAA
George Denman 19011902 2 791 .441 541 .550 0 0 0 0 MIAA
Chester Brewer 19031910, 1917, 1919 10 58237 .699 1922 .833 0 2 0 0 Left MIAA in 1907
John Macklin 19111915 5 2950 .853 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
Dutch Sommers 1916 1 421 .643 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
George Gauthier 1918 1 430 .571 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
George Clark 1920 1 46 .400 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
Albert Barron 19211922 2 6102 .389 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
Ralph H. Young 19231927 5 18221 .451 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 Independent
Harry Kipke 1928 1 341 .438 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
Jim Crowley 19291932 4 2283 .712 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
Charlie Bachman 19331942, 19441946 13 703410 .658 n/a n/a n/a n/a 1 0 Independent
Clarence Munn 19471953 7 5492 .846 51 .833 n/a 1 1 2 Joined Big Ten in 1953
Duffy Daugherty 19541972 19 109695 .609 72503 .588 n/a 2 2 4 Big Ten
Denny Stolz 19731975 3 19131 .591 1491 .604 n/a 0 0 0 Big Ten
Darryl Rogers 19761979 4 24182 .568 19121 .609 n/a 1 0 0 Big Ten
Muddy Waters 19801982 3 10230 .303 8180 .308 n/a 0 0 0 Big Ten
George Perles 19831994 12 68674 .504 53422 .557 n/a 2 7 0 Big Ten
Nick Saban 19951999 5 34241 .592 23161 .589 n/a 0 3 0 Big Ten
Bobby Williams 20002002 > 2 1617 .469 615 .286 n/a 0 2 0 Big Ten
Morris Watts 2002 < 1 12 .333 12 .333 n/a 0 0 0 Big Ten
John L. Smith 20032006 4 2226 .458 1220 .375 n/a 0 1 0 Big Ten
Mark Dantonio 2007present 11 10045 .682 5328 .654 3* 3 9 0 Big Ten
Totals 1896present 120 68645044 .599 29622513 .566 3 11 26 6

* The Big Ten split into the Leaders and Legends Divisions with the addition of Nebraska for the 2011 season. Michigan State played in the Legends Division from 2011 to 2013. In 2014, with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers, the divisions were realigned and Michigan State now plays in the East Division.

Football facilities

Spartan Stadium

Until the 1920s, the Spartans played on Old College Field just northwest of the current stadium. In the early 1920s school officials voted to construct a new stadium. The new College Field was ready in the fall of 1923 with a capacity of 14,000. In 1935 the seating capacity was increased to 26,000 and the facility was dedicated as Macklin Field. By 1957, upper decks were added to the east and west sides, boosting the capacity to 76,000. That same season Michigan State dropped the name Macklin Stadium in favor of the current name, Spartan Stadium.[12]

In 2005 the university finished a new $64 million expansion project to Spartan Stadium. It featured the addition of nearly 3,000 club seats in the "Spartan Club," 24 suites and a 193-seat press box, bringing the current stadium capacity to 75,005. The original World War II-era terracotta cast of "The Spartan" statue was moved indoors to the atrium of the new structure to protect it from the elements and occasional vandalism, and a new bronze cast was made for outdoors. The 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) addition also houses the MSU Alumni Association, University Development and other units.[13]

The stadium boasts a capacity of 75,005, making it the Big Ten's 6th largest stadium and 23rd largest college football stadium in the country. In 2010 Spartan Stadium had the 19th highest attendance in NCAA Division I FBS.[14] Crowd noise in the stadium gets so loud that Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960) uses a recording of the crowd noise during the 1959 Michigan State-Notre Dame game.[15]

For the 2007 season, the student section held approximately 13,000 fans.[16] Like the basketball student section (the Izzone), the Michigan State Student Alumni Foundation used to oversee a subgroup in the football student section named "Corner Blitz." When head coach Mark Dantonio took over the football program in 2006, "Corner Blitz" was united with the normal student section. The entire student section now receives a special T-shirt which is voted on annually.[17]

Three new video boards were installed prior to the 2012 season. The larger South LED board measures 47.2 feet (14.4 m) high by 114.8 feet (35.0 m) wide for a total of 5,412 square feet (502.8 m2). The two North LED boards measure 31.5 feet (9.6 m) high by 52.5 feet (16.0 m) wide for a total of 1,653.75 square feet (153.638 m2) each. When combined, the three boards measure 8,719.5 square feet (810.07 m2), making it the largest combined board system in the country. Also, the stadium includes a 10 feet (3.0 m) high by 450 feet (140 m) wide ribbon video board along the top of the bleachers in the north endzone, which adds another 4,500 square feet (420 m2) to make a grand total of 13,219.5 square feet (1,228.13 m2).

Duffy Daugherty Building / Skandalaris Center

In 2007 Michigan State expanded its Duffy Daugherty Football Building with a $15 million expansion and renovation project. The face-lift started with construction of the 25,000-square-foot (2,300 m2) Skandalaris Football Center that features new team, staff and position meeting rooms, coaches' offices, MSU football Players Lounge and The Demmer Family Hall of History. MSU alumni Robert and Julie Skandalaris of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., donated $5 million as the lead gift for the $15 million project. In 2008, weight room was increased in size from 9,000 to 16,500 square feet (1,530 m2) at a cost of $2 million. The complex includes a 86,000-square-foot (8,000 m2) indoor practice facility with a full in-door football field, two outdoor practice football fields and a training room with a rehab and hydrotherapy section. Graphics in the space were provided by Ohio-based environmental designer, Ze Design.[18]


National championships

Michigan State claims a total of six national championships, three of which are consensus national championships after being declared the national champion by the AP and Coaches' Poll in 1952, the Coaches' Poll in 1965, and the National Football Foundation in 1966.[19]

Year Coach Selector Record Bowl
1951Clarence MunnBillingsley, Helms, Poling9–0
1952Clarence MunnAP Poll, Coaches' Poll, Helms, NCF, UPI9–0
1955Duffy DaughertyBoand9–1Won Rose
1957Duffy DaughertyDunkel8–1
1965Duffy DaughertyUPI, FWAA, Helms10–1Lost Rose
1966Duffy DaughertyHelms, NFF, CFRA9–1
Total National Titles 6

Conference championships

Michigan State has won 11 conference championships, seven outright and four shared.

Year Conference Coach Overall Record Conference Record
1903MIAAChester Brewer6–1–13–1
1905MIAAChester Brewer9–24–0
1953Big Ten ConferenceClarence Munn9–15–1
1965Big Ten ConferenceDuffy Daugherty10–17–0
1966Big Ten ConferenceDuffy Daugherty9–0–17–0
1978Big Ten ConferenceDarryl Rogers8–37–1
1987Big Ten ConferenceGeorge Perles9–2–17–0–1
1990Big Ten ConferenceGeorge Perles8–3–16–2
2010Big Ten ConferenceMark Dantonio11–27–1
2013Big Ten ConferenceMark Dantonio13–18–0
2015Big Ten ConferenceMark Dantonio12–27–1
Conference Titles 9 Big Ten, 2 MIAA

† Co-champions

Divisional championships

Date Division Opponent CG Result
December 3, 2011Big Ten LegendsWisconsinL 39–42
December 7, 2013Big Ten LegendsOhio StateW 34–24
December 5, 2015Big Ten EastIowaW 16–13

Bowl games

Michigan State has appeared in 27 bowl games, garnering a 12–15 record. [20]

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
1937Charlie BachmanOrange BowlAuburnL 0–6
1953Clarence MunnRose BowlUCLAW 28–20
1955Duffy DaughertyRose BowlUCLAW 17–14
1965Duffy DaughertyRose BowlUCLAL 12–14
1984George PerlesCherry BowlArmyL 6–10
1985George PerlesHall of Fame ClassicGeorgia TechL 14–17
1987George PerlesRose BowlUSCW 20–17
1988George PerlesGator BowlGeorgiaL 27–34
1989George PerlesAloha BowlHawaiiW 33–13
1990George PerlesJohn Hancock BowlUSCW 17–16
1993George PerlesLiberty BowlLouisvilleL 7–18
1995Nick SabanIndependence BowlLSUL 26–45
1996Nick SabanSun BowlStanfordL 0–38
1997Nick SabanAloha BowlWashingtonL 23–51
1999Bobby WilliamsFlorida Citrus BowlFloridaW 37–34
2001Bobby WilliamsSilicon Valley Football ClassicFresno StateW 44–35
2003John L. SmithAlamo BowlNebraskaL 3–17
2007Mark DantonioChamps Sports BowlBoston CollegeL 21–24
2008Mark DantonioCapital One BowlGeorgiaL 12–24
2009Mark DantonioAlamo BowlTexas TechL 31–41
2010Mark DantonioCapital One BowlAlabamaL 7–49
2011Mark DantonioOutback BowlGeorgiaW 33–30
2012Mark DantonioBuffalo Wild Wings BowlTCUW 17–16
2013Mark DantonioRose BowlStanfordW 24–20
2014Mark DantonioCotton Bowl ClassicBaylorW 42–41
2015Mark DantonioCotton Bowl Classic (CFP Semifinal)AlabamaL 0–38
2017Mark DantonioHoliday BowlWashington StateW 42–17

Record by bowl game

Bowl Game # W L %
Alamo Bowl 2 0 2 .000
Aloha Bowl 2 1 1 .500
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl 1 1 0 1.000
Champs Sports Bowl 1 0 1 .000
Cherry Bowl 1 0 1 .000
Citrus Bowl 3 1 2 .333
Cotton Bowl 2 1 1 .500
Gator Bowl 1 0 1 .000
Hall of Fame Classic 1 0 1 .000
Holiday Bowl 1 1 0 1.000
Independence Bowl 1 0 1 1.000
Liberty Bowl 1 0 1 .000
Orange Bowl 1 0 1 .000
Outback Bowl 1 1 0 1.000
Rose Bowl 5 4 1 .800
Silicon Valley Classic 1 1 0 1.000
Sun Bowl 2 1 1 .500


Notre Dame

The Megaphone Trophy is awarded each year to the winner of the football game between the University of Notre Dame and Michigan State University. The rivalry includes games such as the Game of the Century, arguably the greatest college football game ever played. The Fighting Irish currently holds the trophy after a 38–18 win in East Lansing in 2017, which is the last time these teams have played in the series. Notre Dame leads the series 48–29–1 while the Megaphone Trophy series record is 34–27–1 in favor of Notre Dame. The two teams will not play each other again until 2026


The Old Brass Spittoon is presented to the winner of the Indiana–Michigan State football game which was first presented in 1950. After facing each other in one of the so-called protected cross-division rivalry games from 2011 to 2013, MSU and Indiana will continue to face off each year as members of the Big Ten East division starting with the 2014 season. The Spartans held onto the Old Brass Spittoon from 2007 to 2015, but lost it in 2016 with a 21–24 OT loss in Bloomington, but won it back during the 2017 season when they won the game by a 17-9 mark. Michigan State currently leads the all-time trophy series 45–12–1.


The Paul Bunyan-Governor of Michigan Trophy is a college rivalry trophy awarded to the winner of the annual American football game between the Michigan State University Spartans and University of Michigan Wolverines. The winner takes possession of the trophy until the next year's game. Michigan State won the 2017 contest in Ann Arbor by a 14–10 mark, for its 8th win in the series in the last 10 years.[21] The Wolverines lead the trophy series 36–27–2, dating back to 1953, and the overall series record between the two is 68–37–5 in favor of Michigan.

Penn State

The Land Grant Trophy is named so because Penn State University and Michigan State University are the nation's oldest land-grant universities, both founded in 1855 (Michigan State on February 12 and Penn State on February 22). When Penn State joined the Big Ten Conference in 1993, the Nittany Lions and Spartans have played each other for the trophy in the last week of conference play until the 2010 season. The trophy, designed by former Michigan State coach George Perles, features pictures of Penn State's Old Main and Michigan State's Beaumont Tower. After spending the 2011 to 2013 seasons in opposite Big Ten conference divisions, MSU and PSU resumed playing each other annually for the trophy in 2014.[22] Michigan State is the current holder of the Land Grant Trophy after upsetting Penn State 27–24 in East Lansing, MI, on November 4, 2017. Michigan State currently leads the series 15–14–1.

Historic games

Game of the Century

The "Game of the Century" (1966 version)
1234 Total
Notre Dame 0703 10
Michigan State 7300 10
Date November 19, 1966
Season 1966
Stadium Spartan Stadium
Location East Lansing, Michigan

The 1966 Michigan State vs. Notre Dame football game ("The Game of the Century") remains one of the greatest, and most controversial, games in college football history.[23] The game was played in Michigan State's Spartan Stadium on November 19, 1966. Michigan State entered the contest 90 and ranked #2, while Notre Dame entered the contest 80 and ranked #1. Notre Dame elected not to try for the end zone on the final series, thus the game ended in a 1010 tie with both schools recording national championships.[24][25]

Irish quarterback Terry Hanratty was knocked out after getting sacked in the first quarter by Spartan defensive lineman Bubba Smith. Starting Notre Dame running back Nick Eddy was out entirely after hurting his shoulder getting off the train in East Lansing. Michigan State held a 10-0 lead by early in the second quarter. But the Irish came back, scoring a touchdown right after Michigan State's field goal and tied the game on the first play of the fourth quarter. Notre Dame had the ball on its own 30-yard line with 1:10 to go, needing about 40 yards for a game-winning field goal. But Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian chose to run the clock out, not wanting to risk a turnover, preserving the tie and Notre Dame's #1 ranking. The game ended in a 10-10 tie.

Notre Dame beat Rose Bowl bound USC 51-0 in Los Angeles the next week, completing an undefeated regular season and moving them to #1 in both polls. The Irish did not accept bowl bids until 1969, and Michigan State was the victim of a pair of Big Ten rules that would be rescinded a few years later: The same school could not represent the league in the Rose Bowl in back-to-back seasons, and only the league Champions could accept a bowl bid, unless they refused the Rose Bowl bid or, because it was on probation, were prohibited from accepting the bid, which, in either case, would then go to the second-place team. So despite being Big Ten Champions and undefeated in the regular season, in each case for two seasons in a row, the Spartans could not play in the Rose Bowl.

For nearly 50 years, Parseghian has defended his end-of-the-game strategy, which left many fans feeling disappointed at the game not having some sort of resolution. College football expert Dan Jenkins lead off his article for Sports Illustrated by saying Parseghian chose to "Tie one for the Gipper." Others chided Notre Dame by calling them the "Tying Irish" instead of the "Fighting Irish."

The game was not shown live on national TV. Each team was allotted one national television appearance and two regional television appearances each season. Notre Dame had used their national TV slot in the season opening game against Purdue. ABC executives did not even want to show the game anywhere but the regional area, but pressure from the West Coast and the South (to the tune of 50,000 letters) made ABC air the game on tape delay.

The Sporting News named the 1966 Fighting Irish and 1965-66 Spartans the eleventh and thirteenth greatest teams of the 20th Century respectively.

Awards Individual awards and honors

National award winners



Big Ten Conference honors

List of Consensus All-Americans

Player Position Years
Neno DaPratoB1915
Sidney WagnerL1935
Ed BagdonL1949
Don ColemanL1951
Bob CareyE1951
Don DohoneyE1953
Earl MorrallB1955
Norm MastersL1955
Walt KowalczykB1957
Dan CurrieL1957
Sam WilliamsE1958
George SaimesB1962
Sherman LewisB1963
Bubba SmithDL1965, 1966
George WebsterDB1965, 1966
Clinton JonesB1966
Brad Van PeltDB1972
Lorenzo WhiteRB1985, 1987
Tony MandarichOL1988
Percy SnowLB1989
Bob KulaOL1989
Charles RogersWR2002
Brandon FieldsP2004
Javon RingerRB2008
Greg JonesLB2009, 2010
Jerel WorthyDL2011
Darqueze DennardDB2013

Team honors

Retired numbers

No. Player Position Tenure Year retired
26Clinton JonesRB1964-19662015
46John Hannah 1--1969
48Percy SnowLB1986-19892013
78Don ColemanT1949-19511951
90George WebsterLB1964-19661967
95Charles "Bubba" SmithDE1964-19662006

1 Although Hannah did not play for the Spartans, the University retired No. 46 as a recognition to his 46 years of service to the institution.[27]

Michigan State's All-Time Team[28]

Hall of Fame


Michigan State alumni and coaching inductees into the College Football Hall of Fame include:

Professional (United States)

Michigan State alumni inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame include:

Professional (Canada)

Michigan State alumni inductees to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame include:

Rose Bowl

Michigan State alumni inductees to the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame include:

  • Dave Kaiser

Future opponents

Big Ten East-division opponents

Michigan State plays the other six Big Ten East opponents once per season.

Even Numbered Years Odd Number Years
vs Michiganat Michigan
vs Ohio Stateat Ohio State
vs Rutgersat Rutgers
at Penn Statevs Penn State
at Indianavs Indiana
at Marylandvs Maryland

Non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of May 10, 2018.[31][32]

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027
vs Utah State vs Tulsa at BYU vs. Youngstown State at Boise State vs Boise State at Boston College vs Boston College Notre Dame (site TBA) Notre Dame (site TBA)
at Arizona State vs Western Michigan vs Toledo at Miami (FL)
vs Central Michigan vs Arizona State vs Miami (FL) vs. Western Kentucky


  1. "Color PaletteThe MSU Brand". Michigan State University. September 1, 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  2. http://www.msuspartans.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/120916aab.html
  3. "College Football's Best and Worst Logos".
  4. "Top 5 Best College Football Logo Designs and How This Applies to Small Businesses". 15 November 2011.
  5. Grinczel, Steve. (2003). They Are Spartans. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-3214-2. p. 9.
  6. (PDF) http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/msu/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/2016-17/misc_non_event/msu-media-guide-history-145-19.pdf. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. Infractions Case: Michigan State University Archived 2007-10-24 at the Wayback Machine., NCAA Register, October 7, 1996. Accessed May 15, 2008.
  8. "Michigan State In the Polls". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on 2008-10-09. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
  9. "Michigan State Spartans Index - College Football at Sports-Reference.com". College Football at Sports-Reference.com.
  10. "Spartans nab Dantonio, Iowa State still looking". ESPN.com. 27 November 2006.
  11. "Mark Dantonio gets contract extension; Michigan State not 'concerned'". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  12. College Gridirons, Spartan Stadium. Accessed 2006-06-23.
  13. "Michigan State Official Athletic Site - Facilities". Msuspartans.com. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
  14. "2010 National College Football Attendance". NCAA.org. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
  15. "Newsroom Special Reports". Special.news.msu.edu. Archived from the original on 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
  16. "Spartan Football Student Section Expands - MICHIGAN STATE OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE". Msuspartans.com. 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
  17. "Fans can vote for 2011 football student section T-shirt | MSU News | Michigan State University". News.msu.edu. 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
  18. "Michigan State Official Athletic Site - Facilities". Msuspartans.com. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
  19. "History: National Championships." "Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine" 10 September 2011
  20. http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/msu/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/2017-18/misc_non_event/bowl-history.pdf
  21. "Michigan State versus Michigan". https://www.sports-reference.com/. External link in |publisher= (help)
  22. "Michigan State Spartans Football Schedules and Future Schedules". Fbschedules.com. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
  23. Mike Celzic. The Biggest Game of Them All: Notre Dame, Michigan State and the Fall of 1966. ISBN 0-671-75817-9.
  24. Notre Dame's Championship Record Archived 2009-01-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  25. Michigan State's Championship Record Archived 2008-12-10 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. "AFCA Coach of the Year Award Winners - College Football at Sports-Reference.com". College Football at Sports-Reference.com.
  27. "Big Ten Retired Football Jerseys – Part 1". 3 July 2008.
  28. "College Football Schedules, Scores, News, Predictions, and Rankings". AthlonSports.com. 1982-12-06. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
  29. College Football Hall of Famers
  30. "Clinton Jones Elected To College Football Hall of Fame".
  31. "Michigan State Spartans Schedules". FBSchedules.com. 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  32. "Michigan State Finalizes 2021 Football Schedule". Retrieved 2018-05-10.
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