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Ranking Mark Dantonio’s 100 wins: Tyler O’Connor talks us through 2015 victory vs. OSU for win No. 4

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The Geiger windmilled his way into our hearts

Michigan State v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Just like we did for win No. 13, we’ll let one of the players do most the talking here.

Tyler O’Connor was nice enough to hop on the phone for a few minutes to go over one of the biggest wins in program history that ended with one of the best celebrations in life history.

If you missed the other 96 wins, we got you covered right here.

Win No. 4

Nov. 21, 2015: No. 9 MSU 17, No. 2 OSU 14

Miserable weather. Nearly 109,000 fans on the road. An OSU team with 12 players that would get drafted in a few months — five of them in the first round. And no Connor Cook.

Easy does it.

Michigan State v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

How They Won

It was a full team win.

First, the defense was out of this world by holding OSU’s dynamic offense to just 132 total yards. Ezekiel Elliott came into this week 11 game never rushing for less than 100 yards that season. That November night? Just 33 yards.

JT Barrett was also completely bottled up, throwing for just 46 yards and rushing for 44 yards on 15 carries.

Second, the offense was as solid as they could have been with Connor Cook unable to play. Tyler O’Connor was smart in the passing game with 7-12 passing and one touchdown. The rushing game was also crucial with 203 total rushing yards, led by Gerald Holmes and his 65 yards and touchdown and LJ Scott’s 58 yards.

Third, well, special teams might have played a role.

Let’s Hear It From Tyler O’Connor

TOC: Going back to the game, when exactly did you find out you were going to start that game?

Tyler: It was about 10 or 10:30 the night before, Coach D brought (Damion Terry and I) into his hotel room. And he just let us know we were going to start because Connor couldn’t throw that night. But if he could somehow throw tomorrow, he was going to start.

So I went to bed on that Friday night. (laughs)

TOC: Did that kind of surprise you? Or did you kind of figure that after being with Connor the entire week of practice?

Tyler: As we got to the end of practice Wednesday he hadn’t really thrown a ball. I was thinking this was going to be the week.

TOC: With Cook out, confidence could have wavered since the starting guy was out. But what was the locker room really like when they found out?

Tyler: Honestly, the best part about it was that no one cared. They were confident in us and confident in the whole team. That was an unbelievable senior class, especially having Jack Allen as center and being able to look him in the eye every play and know that him and the offensive line was going to absolutely dominate.

So confidence wasn’t wavering at all, to answer your question. People had a lot of trust in me and Damion.

Michigan State v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

TOC: This is going to be a really broad question here, but what sticks out to you when you think about the game itself?

Tyler: First, looking around in between plays and just seeing a huge, huge see of red. (laughs)

Everyone else remembers the temperature and the rain and the wind, but I don’t remember that at all. It doesn’t affect you when you’re on the field, but when you look back and watch it looks horrible.

Second, standing on the sideline with Damion, Connor and Coach Salem as Geiger kicked the field goal. That’s the biggest thing I remember. And running to my parents after the game behind the end zone we kicked the field goal at.

And that touchdown pass to Trevon, he made a great play. It was the perfect spot on the field to run it on, we sold the fake and the offensive line held it down…and it was a pretty easy completion.

TOC: Going back to that last second field goal, do you remember what was going through your head before he kicked it?

Tyler: I’ve told Geiger this so I don’t think he’ll be too upset, but my thought was that “I don’t care if he misses, because I know we are going to win in overtime.”

I was having so much fun out there I almost didn’t want the game to end. (laughs)

I was excited he made it, it was a great kick.

TOC: And it seemed like a party on the field after the game, when did that party and celebration eventually die down?

Tyler: Probably 4 a.m. (laughs)

We actually had to bus home. We flew there and after the game we’re doing interviews and everything like that and the rumor started to spread that we would have to bus home. We’re not complaining about a 3-4 hour bus ride home, but instead of a 20 minute flight home and being back in East Lansing that night we had to bus home. That was an eventful bus ride.

Michigan State v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

TOC: And just like that you went from backup quarterback to someone who delivered one of the biggest wins in MSU program history. Did life for you change at all on campus?

Tyler: I don’t know if a lot changed on campus. Obviously, those memories are something I’ll always have with me forever.

Coming home (to Ohio) more so is what changed. When I go back and see my friends in Ohio someone will throw out “this is the guy who beat Ohio State.”

TOC: Anything else you want to add?

Tyler: One of the coolest parts about it is that Damion and I are still close to this day and we were good with however it went down.

And individually, I probably had 20 family members there and most of them are Ohio State fans. A lot of them had my jersey, but if I wasn’t quarterback or if Ohio State was on the field they would put their Ohio State gear back on.

And the biggest thing is that all the credit goes to the seniors and the offensive line. I think I was only 7/10 or something like that, but we ran the ball so well. So it was all the seniors, the offensive line and that front seven on our defense.

What This Win Meant

This was basically the game to see who would go to Indy that season.

Standing in MSU’s way was just the No. 3-ranked Buckeyes on Senior Night with their star quarterback out of the game. And all MSU did was stun the nation, knock OSU out of the Big Ten title race AND the national title chase and just about booked their date against Iowa.

A lot of games in MSU’s tenure are finding the inches and just searching for a way to get the job done. This is what happened that game, battling against adversity, horrible elements and grinding it out on the road against a team stacked with talent.

Poll

Is ranking this game No. 4 too high, too low or just right?

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  • 12%
    Ranked too high
    (47 votes)
  • 12%
    Ranked too low
    (47 votes)
  • 75%
    Ranked just right
    (287 votes)
381 votes total Vote Now