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Ranking Mark Dantonio’s 100 wins: 2014 Rose Bowl victory comes in at No. 2

It’s impossible to forget this one

The 100th Rose Bowl Game - Stanford v Michigan State Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

With just three days until 2018 kicks off, we are down to just two games in this ranking.

First off, thank you for reading this ranking all along.

Second, if you disagree, please go after it in the comments.

Third, check out wins No. 100-3 if you already haven’t.

Let’s break out the rose petals.

Win No. 2

Jan. 1, 2014: No. 4 MSU 24, No. 5 Stanford 20

This is a game no Spartan fan will forget any time soon.

But hey — it doesn’t hurt rehashing it over and over and over again, does it?

The 100th Rose Bowl Game - Stanford v Michigan State Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

How They Won

They won after coming into the game how many MSU teams enter games — as the overlooked underdog.

MSU was without Max Bullough and facing a Stanford squad that showed a good balance of a stout defense and effective offense.

The game didn’t start too great for MSU as Stanford jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead with its touchdown coming on the first drive.

The 100th Rose Bowl Game - Stanford v Michigan State Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Spartan offense responded to start the second quarter, taking advantage of a pass interference after a failed 3rd-and-goal at the Stanford nine yard line put MSU on the two yard line. One play later, Jeremy Langford scored to bring the lead to 10-7.

After a short punt-fest, Connor Cook made a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad decision and tossed an easy pick-6 to Stanford.

However, the sophomore quarterback showed his maturity and short memory and bounced back with a huge drive in the final two minutes. Arguably the biggest play of that half was Cook’s 37 yard connection with Bennie Fowler to throw the Spartans inside the five yard line.

A few plays later Big Play Trevon Pendleton snagged the two-yard touchdown pass to put the game at 17-14 heading into halftime.

MSU wasted no time knotting up the game at 17-17 with a 31-yarder from Michael Geiger on the opening drive of the second half.

Also, the No Fly Zone made the flight to Pasadena with Trae Waynes intercepting stealing the ball right out of Stanford’s hands.

MSU’s defense got its first of two turnover on downs — you might know the second one pretty well — in the third quarter on MSU’s 36 yard line. Stanford was looking at 4th-and-3 and, instead of gaining three yards, the Spartans took them to a loss of three yards.

It wasn’t until the fourth quarter with the sun setting on the iconic stadium when MSU scored that go-ahead touchdown. Connor Cook threw the best pass of his young career at that point, hitting Tony Lippett for a 25-yard score and a 24-17 lead.

Stanford cut the lead to 24-20, and they had last call for touchdowns with 2:40 left in the night and 75 yards to the end zone.

The situation was simple on 4th-and-1.

Give up a yard, the game continues.

Stop them at the line, the Spartans raise the Rose Bowl trophy for the first time since 1988.

And, if you’re Kyler Elsworth, you can also write your name in Spartan lore forever.

What This Win Meant

Standing on the podium, Mark Dantonio had one word to sum up the night.


This was the completion of a journey that started in 2007 when he took over the program in East Lansing that had just two plus-.500 seasons in the last seven years. In a conference where Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State are known as the blue bloods? A Rose Bowl rightfully seemed like a pipe dream.

The 100th Rose Bowl Game - Stanford v Michigan State Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

However, this wasn’t truly the “completion” Dantonio claimed. It’s something more. This became the standard and the expectation, as MSU has been in the national conversation every year since.

Mark Dantonio has built an elite program in East Lansing, and this was one of his first trademark wins that stamped that as a fact.


Should this game be ranked No. 2?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    No, should be No. 1
    (329 votes)
  • 32%
    Yes, should be No. 2
    (168 votes)
  • 3%
    No, should be No. 3 or lower
    (16 votes)
513 votes total Vote Now