Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Miracle At Michigan Stadium: Spartans reflect on defeating the Wolverines 27-23

                                      Photo Credit: Geno Green

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

Alabama-Auburn's Kick Six in 2013, Colorado-Michigan's Hail Mary in 1994, Boston College-Miami's Flutie Mary in 1984— those were some splendid finishes which will live in the vault of college football forever, but those games must make room in the banquet hall for Saturday's Michigan State/Michigan finish. 

Add Jalen Watts-Jackson's punt return after a botched snap from punter Blake O'Neill to the all-time great finishes in college football history as No. 7 Michigan State pulled the ultimate magic trick to stun No. 12 Michigan 27-23 in front of a stunned crowd at Michigan Stadium.

Watts-Jackson saw an opportunity to take advantage of a fumble from O'Neill and ran 38 yards with a block from cornerback Jermaine Edmondson as he cut from the left to the right and dragged into the end zone with tight end Jake Butt on top of him to complete The Miracle At Michigan Stadium.

The game-winning touchdown came at a brutal price as Watts-Jackson stayed down on the ground, while fellow teammates were celebrating. 

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio confirmed that Watts-Jackson suffered a broken hip and was immediately rushed to an unnamed hospital.

"I'm not sure when [Jalen] got hurt and I did not get a chance to talk to him before going to the hospital," Dantonio said.

MSU defensive end Shilique Calhoun believed in Watts-Jackson making the play because of unselfishness and teamwork.

"Just having faith in each other and all above else having faith in yourself and we put you out there for a reason because we understand these guys can make plays," Calhoun said. "For Jalen, it was a great opportunity and I hope and pray he gets well. Just having complete faith in him and believing in our teammates."

Moments after celebrating with his fellow Spartan teammates under the lights, quarterback Connor Cook talked about overcoming adversity no matter the circumstances.

"That's been the whole motto of our team ever since we have been here and that is to fight until the very end and never give up no matter what happens," Cook said in a very humble manner. "You saw with the Baylor game last season and for whoever we are playing and no matter the outcome at the end, we will never quit."

Michigan State defensive Shilique Calhoun, who switched numbers from 89 to 43 before the game to honor linebacker Ed Davis, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in fall camp, also reflected on stopping Michigan's offense and giving his unit one more opportunity.

"As a defensive unit, we don't want to give up first downs, even if it is the last situation of the game for [Michigan] to prevail and get the victory and we were going to leave it to them to punt the ball and give our offense or special teams another opportunity," Calhoun said.

Any team who wins any type of championships no matter if it is a conference or national title, must go through rough patches in order to appreciate the fruits of labor more at the end of the tunnel.

For Cook, being able to win three games as a starter against the Wolverines will leave a impact bigger than any Big Ten Championship.

"Being a three-year starter and to beat them all three times, that says something," Cook said. "We are all humbled and could not been any happier."

To show the magnitude of MSU's win over Michigan, Cook put this one over the Rose and Cotton Bowls in terms of its impact on the overall program.

"I would say so especially playing at the Big House," Cook said. "From everyone that we've talked to from past teams, they said there's nothing like winning at the Big House. To win in that fashion with 10 seconds left thinking the game was over and then that happened and to rush the field, look around to see who to celebrate with was emotional and mind-blowing."

As Dorothy would say in the Wizard of Oz, there is no place like home and for Michigan State, the same can be said, but on this evening, Ann Arbor is the center of the universe, not Wichita.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.