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Ranking Mark Dantonio’s 100 wins: 2010 Spartans lock up Big Ten title at Penn State

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The first of three conference titles won by Dantonio comes in at No. 9

Michigan State v Penn State Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

We’ve got history sitting here at No. 9.

This is the first of three Big Ten title clinchers you’ll see in the top ten (spoiler alert), and it’s also the first of the Mark Dantonio Era.

Miss any of the fun from wins No. 100-10? Check all of them out here.

Let’s go to Happy Valley, gang.

Win No. 9

Nov. 27, 2010: No. 11 MSU 28, Penn State 22

This wasn’t the toughest game on the schedule, but it was a challenging finale to the year as MSU rolled into Happy Valley to take on a 7-4 Penn State squad.

Oh, and all the pressure of winning a conference title on their shoulders too. That too.

Michigan State v Penn State Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

How They Won

Michigan State set the pace immediately with Edwin Baker compiling 40 yards on the opening drive and ending it with a seven-yard touchdown run. Baker also finished the game with 118 rushing yards, which was his fifth game north of 100 yards on the season.

Penn State bounced back with a field goal, but those were the last Nittany Lions points until the fourth quarter.

In the meantime, Kirk Cousins hit BJ Cunningham for an eight-yard touchdown in the second quarter, making it the 14-3 score we would all enjoy at halftime.

MSU’s offense would awaken again near the end of the third quarter when Cousins went 4/5 passing and capped the drive with a 24-yard touchdown to his good ol’ pal Cunningham again. The score was 21-3 for a hot second before Penn State responded with a touchdown to bring the lead to 21-10.

Even Keith Nichol got in on the mix, connecting with Charlie Gantt to make it a 28-10 ballgame.

Penn State threatened the lead, but they only play four quarters in football, so Penn State’s comeback effort ran out of time.

Just like that — after holding Penn State to just 84 rushing yards — our Spartans celebrated their first Big Ten title since 1990 and the first 11-win season since...ever.

Michigan State v Penn State Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

What This Win Meant

I mean, this seems like it needs no explaining.

This was the first MSU conference title in the Dantonio Era and in two decades. Fans have long suffered through the Bobby Williams and John L. Smith days where winning a conference title seemed like a laughable dream.

At the time, it was surreal that MSU was even in the discussion for a conference title, let alone winning it.

This season didn’t just suggest that MSU was for real. It screamed it.

Since then, MSU has rolled to five double-digit win seasons in the seven years since.

Poll

Is ranking this game at No. 9 too high, too low or just right?

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  • 28%
    Ranked too high
    (65 votes)
  • 6%
    Ranked too low
    (14 votes)
  • 65%
    Ranked just right
    (149 votes)
228 votes total Vote Now