clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The best win in each of Mark Dantonio’s 10 seasons

There’s plenty to choose from in Dantonio’s decade of greatness, so let’s talk about it

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Iowa vs Michigan State Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Man, what a ride this has been.

More than 10 years ago Mark Dantonio came in from Cincinnati to take over this program, and he’s done nothing short of an immaculate job.

Big Ten titles. Huge bowl games. A College Football Playoff berth. Victories over rivals. A few trick plays here and there.

It’s been a fun time, so as we come up to Dantonio’s 11th season as head coach, let’s take a trip down memory lane and banter about the best win in each of those 10 seasons.


Let’s work backwards here and start with the rough season. It’s alright, we’ve got a few elite seasons to get to.

My pick: 36-28 at Notre Dame. Sorry Furman.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports


Alright, now we’re talking. This season had at least four games that could be claimed as the best.

The win against Oregon in front of an electric home crowd that set the tone for the season? The miracle at Michigan? Geiger windmilling his way out of Columbus? LJ Scott reaching for the College Football Playoff berth.

MAN those are classics.

My pick: 17-14 at Ohio State. This is the toughest choice I’ve had to make in my entire life. I’ve lost sleep on this. Silencing Michigan’s football stadium was great, but there’s something about ruining OSU’s national title chances with two backup quarterbacks on their senior night that made it even more impressive. They needed that win to make the Big Ten Championship, and no one (guilty as charged) gave them a shot.


What was the best win of the 2015 season?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    31-28 vs. Oregon
    (7 votes)
  • 48%
    27-23 at Michigan
    (239 votes)
  • 34%
    17-14 at Ohio State
    (170 votes)
  • 15%
    16-13 vs. Iowa
    (78 votes)
  • 0%
    (1 vote)
495 votes total Vote Now


This season has two that really stand out. 1) Tuning up Michigan by 24 points and seeing them celebrate their fourth quarter touchdown like it was 1998 and they just won the Rose Bowl. 2) The 20-point comeback in the Cotton Bowl against Baylor.

My pick: 42-41 vs. Baylor. Beating that offense in a de facto road game? Yeah, that’s hard to beat.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Michigan State v Baylor Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images


Like 2015, this has four games that make the choice tough (man, what a great problem to have).

Our defense eating the soul out of Devin Gardner’s body en route to -587 rushing yards? Going into Lincoln and taking down the Cornhuskers in week 10? Triumphing over Ohio State for the Big Ten title? Seeing completion to the dream with the 100th Rose Bowl Game trophy going to the Green and White?

Man, someone come fan me off.

My pick: 34-24 vs. Ohio State. This was everything. It was punching a Rose Bowl berth for the first time in decades. It was erasing the stomach-churning feeling 2011 gave us. It was Urban Meyer eating pizza while wondering how his then-No. 2-ranked team won’t be playing for a national title.


What was the best win of the 2013 season?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    29-6 vs. Michigan
    (48 votes)
  • 0%
    41-28 at Nebraska
    (3 votes)
  • 44%
    34-24 vs. Ohio State
    (213 votes)
  • 45%
    24-20 vs. Stanford
    (218 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
482 votes total Vote Now


Ahh yes, the 7-6 season known best for its five losses decided by four points or less. And they wonder why MSU can be considered a drinking school.

However, there were some great wins. The home opener against Boise State. The thrilling win over Wisconsin at Camp Randall. The win at Minnesota to become bowl eligible. The bowl victory against TCU where Le’Veon Bell led in passing for way too much of the game.

My pick: 16-13 at Wisconsin. That had a total “time to start trying” vibe to it at the end, and it not only left Wisconsin fans stunned, but also Spartans fans too. Where was that late offensive push all game?

Outback Bowl - Michigan State Spartans v Georiga Bulldogs Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images


The second huge season for MSU under Dantonio, who went 11-3 in Kirk Cousins and Co.’s senior year.

This season featured another win at Ohio State, a 28-14 win against Michigan, the Hail Mary win against No. 4 Wisconsin and, of course, the 33-30 triple overtime thriller against Georgia.

My pick: 37-31 vs. Wisconsin. We all remember how it ended, but remember how this game started? Wisconsin had us down 14-0 quick, but this team bounced back with a 23-point second quarter to have the night game crowd rocking. If you were at that game, you’ll never forget it


What was the best win of the 2011 season?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    10-7 at Ohio State
    (13 votes)
  • 8%
    28-14 vs. Michigan
    (34 votes)
  • 67%
    37-31 vs. Wisconsin
    (281 votes)
  • 21%
    33-30 vs. Georgia
    (89 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
417 votes total Vote Now


Hey, you’ll never believe this — it’s another season with a few great wins to pick from.

Anyone remember Little Giants? Or beating No. 11 Wisconsin by 10 points? Or smashing Michigan on their home dirt? Or clinching the Big Ten title at Penn State?

Of course you remember.

My pick: 34-17 at Michigan. That was the ultimate “yeah, it’s our state now” game against the No. 18-ranked team. Smacking around that team with 113,000+ there to watch it live? What a priceless way to let everyone know who the kings of the state are.


What was the best win of the 2010 season?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    34-31 vs. Notre Dame
    (200 votes)
  • 2%
    34-24 vs. Wisconsin
    (10 votes)
  • 43%
    34-17 at Michigan
    (167 votes)
  • 2%
    28-22 at Penn State
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
388 votes total Vote Now


Not a banner season by any means as the Spartans went 6-7, but it came with a huge win at home. Shoutout to Larry Caper by the way.

My pick: 26-20 vs. Michigan. This pick is a no-brainer.


Dantonio put the Big Ten on notice with this season as MSU went 9-4, including a 6-2 record in conference play. The 16-13 win over Iowa was big as was the 25-24 win against Wisconsin, but there was one revenge game victory that sticks out.

My pick: 35-21 at Michigan. Yes, the game one year removed from the “little brother” comment that certainly hasn’t ended up biting them one, two or seven times since.

Michigan State v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images


It didn’t start off with all roses for Dantonio, but in that 7-6 first year he picked up a crucial win against No. 22 Penn State in week 12 to send the Green and White bowling.

My pick: 35-31 vs. Penn State. The 17-13 win against Pitt in the beginning of the year was also nice (suck it, state of Pennsylvania), but that one holds a special place in Dantonio’s history.

There you have it folks, now let’s banter in the comments.