Mark Dantonio and Bret Bielema have met five times as head coaches of Michigan State and Wisconsin. The former owns a 3-2 advantage in the competitive and entertaining head-to-head battle, including victories in three of the last four matchups. The two, of course, will meet for a sixth time in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game on Saturday. Before that happens, BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina takes a look back at the last five encounters. Plus, listen to the latest coaches’ teleconference.
Sept. 29, 2007, Camp Randall Stadium: Wisconsin 37, Michigan State 34 – Tied at 34 midway through the fourth quarter of a back-and-forth game, Taylor Mehlhaff hit a 22-yard field goal to put the ninth-ranked Badgers ahead and seal the win. The game featured three lead changes and four ties. Michigan State QB Brian Hoyer threw for 323 yards and two touchdowns, Jehuu Caulcrick ran for 73 yards and two scores, and Javon Ringer went for 233 total yards. Wisconsin’s P.J. Hill racked up 155 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the defeat.
Listen to Bielema’s pre-championship teleconference here:
Nov. 1, 2008, Spartan Stadium: Michigan State 25, Wisconsin 24 – Trailing throughout the first three-plus quarters, No. 22 Michigan State scored the game’s last 12 points in the final 8:13, the last score coming on Brett Swenson‘s game-winning 44 yard-field goal with seven ticks left. Swenson hit four field goals on the day, including a 50-yarder with 5:16 remaining to cut the deficit to two and set up his eventual game-winner. Javon Ringer scored both of Michigan State’s touchdowns, despite being held to 54 rushing yards. John Clay (111) and P.J. Hill (106) both eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark and scored a touchdown in the losing effort.
Listen to Dantonio’s pre-championship teleconference here:
Sept. 26, 2009, Camp Randall Stadium: Wisconsin 38, Michigan Sate 30 – This is the least competitive of the five games between Dantonio and Bielema, as Wisconsin led 38-17 in the fourth quarter before Michigan State’s Keith Nichol threw a pair of touchdown passes to Keshawn Martin in the final 2:07 to make it a game late. Scott Tolzien threw four touchdowns, including three to tight end Garrett Graham, and John Clay ran for 142 yards and a touchdown to pace the Badgers. Then in a time share under center, Nichol, now a wide receiver, and Kirk Cousins both threw two touchdowns and combined for 396 passing yards.
Oct. 2, 2010, Spartan Stadium: Michigan State 34, Wisconsin 24 – The Spartans trailed 10-6 nearly midway through the second quarter, when Keshawn Martin shifted momentum on a 74-yard punt return for a score. No. 24 Michigan State added another score before the half, a Kirk Cousins‘ TD pass to Charlie Gantt, and it never looked back en route to upsetting No. 11 Wisconsin. In the win, Cousins threw three scoring strikes to three different receivers, and the Spartans defense limited Scott Tolzien to 127 yards and one TD, a season after allowing him to throw four TDs.
Oct. 22, 2011, Spartan Stadium: Michigan State 37, Wisconsin 31 – This thrilling, down-to-the-last-second game made “Rocket” popular – or unpopular depending on your allegiance. Tied at 31 and looking as if overtime was all but a guarantee, No. 15 Michigan State worked itself into position to attempt a last-second heave into the end zone – a play the team calls Rocket. We all know what happened next. In case you have a bad memory, watch and rate the last-second Hail Mary. Keith Nichol was ruled short of the goal line on the field, but replay reversed the call and gave the Spartans their second consecutive upset over Wisconsin, this time ranked No. 5 and entertaining national title hopes. Kirk Cousins was money under the lights, completing 22 of 31 passes for 290 yards and three TDs.
Dec. 3, 2011, Lucas Oil Stadium: To be determined.