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Spartan Football Playback: Penn State vs. Michigan State (1999)

In what would be Nick Saban’s last game as Michigan State’s head coach, the Spartans held off a late-game comeback to win the Land Grant Trophy.

Nick Saban

Opponent: Penn State Nittany Lions

Date: Nov. 20, 1999

Location: Spartan Stadium - East Lansing Michigan

Final Score: 35-28 MSU

All-time Matchup Record: Tied, 17-17-1

The Big Ten East rock fight ends this weekend and there hasn’t been much surprises to this point. Ohio State and Michigan play in Ann Arbor and that game will decide the division champion, with both teams coming off blowout victories. The Buckeyes are hitting their stride at the best time, in some ways mirroring their 2014 team that lost a non-conference game early in the year and found a niche late in the season to win a national championship.

In East Lansing, Penn State will be coming in to face the Spartans in what's still shaping up to be a good matchup and a rivalry trophy to play for. The all-time record matchup is dead locked at 17-17-1, and the Nittany Lions have won the last two. This will also be senior day for the Spartans and the crowd will bid farewell to some players who have been around since two presidents ago.

Both teams have had disappointing Novembers and will look to close the season with some momentum. For Michigan State, a victory means a 10-win season and potential New Year’s Six bowl, as well as returning the Land Grant Trophy to East Lansing. For the final playback installment of the regular season, we look back to a top-15 matchup in 1999 where the Spartans and Nittany Lions met in East Lansing for a game to remember.

Game Recap

In what ended up being an anticlimactic ending to the regular season when Nick Saban decided to take his talents to Baton Rouge for the LSU job, the final game between Michigan State and Penn State lived up to all the hype.

Running back T.J. Duckett ran for four touchdowns, including the game winner on an 11-yard run up the middle with 2:30 left in the game. Duckett, who was recruited as a linebacker but used increasingly as a clutch-situation ball carrier, carried 22 times for 159 yards.

Michigan State came out of the gates fast and quickly built a comfortable 21-0 lead behind its power running game. Penn State trailed 28-7 at the half, but dominated the third quarter, scoring 10 points to draw within 28-17.

The Nittany Lions tied the score in the fourth quarter as Eddie Drummond caught a 12-yard touchdown pass, and Travis Forney kicked a 30-yard field goal.

Following the touchdown by Duckett to go back up late in the fourth, T.J. Turner made his second interception of the game to stop Penn State’s next drive. Even after Paul Edinger missed a 38-yard field goal with 37 seconds left that would have put the game away, the Nittany Lions couldn’t score on the next possession, and the Spartans held on for the victory.

Happy Thanksgiving!