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Payton Thorne sets the Michigan State single-season record for passing touchdowns

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Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Pittsburgh v Michigan State Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

With his fourth quarter touchdown pass to Connor Heyward, Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne reached 26 touchdown passes for the 2021 season, surpassing Kirk Cousins’ 25 touchdowns in 2011. The 26 touchdown passes is a Michigan State Spartans football program single-season record.

Kirk Cousins played in 14 games in 2011 when he set the MSU record, which was previously held by Drew Stanton after the 2005 campaign of 11 games. Connor Cook threw for 24 touchdowns in both 2014 and 2015.

Coming into the Peach Bowl, Thorne had accumulated 3,063 total yards on the season. With a career best 354 passing yards, along with four yards rushing, against Pittsburgh, the Spartan quarterback has amassed 3,421 total yards from scrimmage this season. The 3,421 total yards puts him second all-time in Michigan State program single-season history. Brian Lewerke holds the all-time record with 3,442 total yards during the 2019 season. The aforementioned Stanton gained 3,415 yards during the 2005 season, which now ranks third all-time. Thorne is in his first full season as the starter and has eligibility through the 2024 season.

Note: An earlier version of this article mistakenly noted Thorne had also broken the single-season total yards record. That is incorrect and has been revised.

Here is the record-setting touchdown pass from Thorne to Heyward:

Later in the game, Thorne found Jayden Reed for another touchdown — his third total touchdown pass of the game (and second for Reed) — giving him 27 touchdown passes on the season. This, along with the two-point conversion and a Cal Haladay pick-six, would help seal the victory for the Spartans in the Peach Bowl.