Opponent: Purdue Boilermakers
Date: Nov. 20, 2010
Location: Spartan Stadium — East Lansing, Michigan
Final Score: 35-31, Michigan State
All-time Matchup Record: Michigan State leads 36-28-3
Well, here we are. Michigan State passed its first real test of the season against Michigan last Saturday in a game for the ages and now controls its own destiny heading into the home stretch of the regular season. The Spartans currently sit at No. 3 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, but still have work to do.
Most MSU fans have now had time to process the magnitude of the rivalry game victory, so we don't have to dive too deep there. What’s important now — as Mel Tucker has preached time and time again — is to avoid complacency and treat each opponent with the same level of respect and preparation. It’s easy to look ahead to the final two games of the season against Ohio State and Penn State, but the dangers of doing so are well documented in college football lore. While the Spartans made a big statement, their game this weekend in West Lafayette I think will say a lot about the team’s makeup.
Purdue has already proven that it can get up for big games this year, knocking off a then undefeated and No. 2-ranked Iowa team on the Hawkeyes’ home turf only a few weeks ago. While the Hawkeyes have spiraled since then, the victory should add some much needed caution to a Michigan State team that will need to keep laser focus.
For this week’s “Spartan Football Playback,” we take things back to 2010 and the first of many double-digit win seasons under Mark Dantonio. MSU has quietly reeled off eight consecutive victories over the Boilermakers, however, most contests were close — including the 2010 game.
On senior night in 2010, Michigan State entered the game versus Purdue in ranked 12th in the nation and were on track to the Spartans’ first double-digit win season since 1999. Unfortunately, this was the last year before major changes shook up the Big Ten, and there was no conference championship game to play for at the time. The Rose Bowl came down to the highest ranked Big Ten team in the BCS rankings, and the Spartans were behind Ohio State and Wisconsin (despite a victory over the Badgers that year).
Purdue came into the game losing four in a row, but had a dog in this fight in an attempt to remain bowl eligible. The game remained close for most the day and, the Boilermakers had MSU on the ropes in the fourth quarter. While leading 28-13 with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the game, Purdue quarterback Rob Henry’s deep pass was intercepted by Chris L. Rucker at the Purdue 40-yard-line and then Kirk Cousins threw a five-yard touchdown pass to B.J. Cunningham to make it 28-20.
After a long return, Purdue’s Carson Wiggs made it 31-20 with a 52-yard field goal to stretch the lead back to two scores. Cousins would lead the team back down the field on its next drive and find Mark Dell on a nine-yard touchdown dart with 6:54 remaining. A two-point conversion made it 31-28 and momentum was favoring MSU’s sideline.
A stagnant following possession for the Boilermakers set up a Denicos Allen blocked punt and gave Michigan State the ball inside the five-yard-line. Cousins cashed in a rushing touchdown to take the lead and clinch MSU’s first 10-win season in over 10 years.