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Ranking Mark Dantonio’s 100 wins: Holiday Bowl completes turnaround for win No. 22

What this win meant went deeper than bringing home a trophy

SDCCU Holiday Bowl - Michigan State v Washington State Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

We’re going to ask a lot from you here.

We’re going to need you guys to go alllllll the way back to December to recall this game.

Win No. 100 for Dantonio shows up at No. 22 on our list. Miss 100-23? Give this link the good old fashioned click to catch up.

Win No. 22

Dec. 28, 2017: No. 18 MSU 42, No. 21 WSU 17

The 2017-18 bowl season was huge for the Big Ten as every legitimate team won their bowl game.

In the grand scheme of things, perhaps no one made a bigger statement with their win than the young Spartans who delivered a blowout victory.

Is that a bias thought? Yeah, maybe. But was it also one of Mark Dantonio’s most important wins? Yeah, definitely.

SDCCU Holiday Bowl - Michigan State v Washington State Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

How They Won

Washington State’s high-powered offense — even with key players missing — struck first in the game with a field goal midway through the first quarter.

And, oh boy, did it get really fun against Washington State’s top 15 defense after that. I mean, REALLY fun.

Cody White hauled in a touchdown pass to make it 7-3. Felton Davis reeled one in for a 49-yard score to make it 14-3. And OH MY GOODNESS IT’S 21-3 NOW?! After a LJ Scott touchdown with 29 seconds before halftime, that’s exactly what it was.

SDCCU Holiday Bowl - Michigan State v Washington State Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images


Like a group of stranded men whose hunger could only be satisfied by scoring, the Spartans kept their foot on the gas in the third quarter. Cody White reeled in another touchdown, and then Damion Terry took his run for glory to make it a comfortable 35-3 lead.

The Cougars tacked two touchdowns on, but hey, that didn’t really matter. And Scott scored a 28 yard touchdown to cap the final score at 42-17 before proclaiming he was coming back for his senior season.

In a season with stressful games, this was a fun ol’ beatdown to watch.

What This Win Meant

After winning the Rose Bowl, Mark Dantonio’s first word on the ceremony stage was simply “completion.”

Was the Holiday Bowl as good as the Rose Bowl? Alright, maybe not. But in a way, it had the a feeling of “completion” when the trophy was wheeled over to the team.

We all know what happened in 2016. Many thought — and hoped — that was the end of MSU football. That they couldn’t get back to the national stage, beat top 25 teams or pump out 10-win seasons. Especially in a rebuilding season.

By beating the No. 21-ranked Cougars, it was the Spartans third top 25 win of the season. It was the tenth win of the season. It was the “yeah, we’re back” moment that capped off a season that surprised many.

For a team that returns 21 starters from last season, that’s the kind of statement win that catapults you into a big offseason. MSU is back like they never even left.