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Ranking Mark Dantonio’s 100 wins: First win over ranked team comes in at No. 21

Penn State’s 17-point second half lead was no match for Dantonio’s first MSU team on senior day

Our last win in the countdown was the most recent win. Easy to remember.

This one? Well, we’re going back more than a decade.

Have a hard time remember wins No. 100-22? We’ve got you covered right here.

Win No. 21

Nov. 17, 2007: MSU 35, No. 22 Penn State 31

Mark Dantonio’s first MSU team was so close in getting that marquee win throughout the season. Three times prior they faced a top 25 team, and all three times they lost within one possession.

Until this November night.

For as much heartbreak as those three losses had, this win had even more joy at the end of it.

How They Won

For a second — or a few hours — it looked like this was going to be the same result as the last two senior day games. A loss.

The Spartans saw the Nittany Lions take a 24-7 lead on their first drive of the second half, and you probably know by now that the lead did not stand.

Brian Hoyer — who was 16-21 with 257 yards, four touchdowns and two picks that came in the first half — answered with a 3-yard pass to Jeff McPherson. The next drive? A 33-yard pass to Devin Thomas, who ended his day with 139 yards and three(!) touchdowns. Just like that, it was just a 24-21 Penn State lead heading into the fourth quarter.

MSU was dealt a blow to start the final quarter of the regular season, watching Penn State turn a Hoyer fumble into a quick touchdown to make it 31-21.

Hoyer once again picked up the phone and answered with a 26-yard pass to Thomas. 31-28, 11:04 left in the game. The Spartans were right back in it.

On their following drive the Spartans weren’t just in it — they were leading it after a Jehuu Caulcrick 1-yard punch on third-and-goal. But it’s what happened before that made this drive even more impressive.

This was the first of Mark Dantonio’s iconic gutsy plays. With the Spartans down 31-28 and deep in their own territory, the only option was to punt on 4th-and-5 right? RIGHT?!

Wrong. How about a fake punt — that started off a little rocky — that went for 17 yards to keep the drive alive.

That eventual touchdown turned the game into a 35-31 lead that the defense wouldn’t give up, forcing Penn State into a turnover on downs in MSU territory on its rebuttal.

Thomas wasn’t the only one lighting up the stat sheet as Kellen Davis also tacked on 106 receiving yards on four catches. A perfect end at Spartan Stadium for Thomas and Davis.

What This Win Meant

Picking up his first win against a top 25 opponent in his first season on senior day says it all. The fact it came in a 17-point comeback? Against a rival? It doesn’t get too much better than that.

MSU fell to its first three top 25 teams it faced that year, but they were all one-possession games. This game got the Spartans over the hurdle and was the first step to putting other teams on notice.

Eleven years later, it’s pretty clear the Spartans are a bonafide force. This was one of the early stages of building MSU to becoming that monster.