As I moved down to the front row to watch the post-game celebration, I found myself next to Joel Foreman. Otis Wiley made his way over at some point. Travis Key was on the BTN set before the game.
Saturday's 34-24 win over Ohio State was for this year's team, but it was a culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people. In winter 2006, Mark Dantonio took over a program in shambles and just waiting for the next collapse to come. I've long maintained that the win over Penn State in the 2007 regular season finale was the most important of the Dantonio era. MSU needed to win its final two games to reach a bowl, and it did, the first sign that things were going to be different.
There's now a new game at the top of that list.
When Ohio State went up 24-17, I started to wonder if Ohio State was looking impressive enough. Was MSU going to lose and miss out on the Rose Bowl because the Buckeyes would be jumped by Auburn?
But, as they've always done since 2007, the Spartans fought back. They re-took the lead, they shut down Ohio State's prolific offense the rest of the way and Jeremy Langford put another game in the books.
MSU is no longer just another Big Ten team. The Spartans went from No. 10 to being put in everyone's hypothetical top four playoff. Respect: earned. Since 2010, they've won 11 games three times — including a school-record 12 this season — with two division championships and two Big Ten championships. A Rose Bowl appearance is a few weeks away.
When Mark Dantonio was hired, he needed to bring stability and a foundation to program that never had it for long stretches. Now they've broken through the glass ceiling weighing on the program for decades. Saturday's win was for everyone.
If there was a playoff, it looks like MSU would have been in it. But this is the 100th Rose Bowl. It will be the last Rose Bowl as we know it. The was the final chance for that special moment.
Looking back at my keys to the game.
For Ohio State:
Just leaving this here: Kirk Cousins (So.)198-328 (60.4%) 8.2 YPA, 19 TD, 9 INTs Connor Cook (So.) 201-344 (58.4%), 7.0 YPA, 20 TD, 5 INTS— Heck Dorland (@HeckAtTOC) December 8, 2013
From the backup on opening night, completing less than 50 percent of his passes, to Big Ten 2nd Team and 300 yards and the Big Ten Championship Game MVP. It's been said a lot, but it's amazing to see Cook's development. He always makes the right read. His footwork has improved, but he still tries to make too difficult throws sometimes. But hey, you have to like the aggressiveness. It serves him well. And he's just a sophomore, folks.
From the it-was-meant-to-be dept: Blocked punt hit the ground around the 30, took an MSU bounce of about 15 yds. OSU never got to FG range.— Noah Trister (@noahtrister) December 8, 2013