Michigan State Spartans football
2023 Michigan State Spartans football team
First season1896
Athletic directorAlan Haller
Head coachJonathan Smith
1st season, 0–0 (–)
StadiumSpartan Stadium
(capacity: 75,005)
Field surfaceGrass
LocationEast Lansing, Michigan
ConferenceBig Ten Conference
All-time record730–487–44 (.596)
Bowl record14–16 (.467)
Playoff appearances1 (2015)
Playoff record0–1
Claimed national titles6 (1951, 1952, 1955,
1957, 1965, 1966)
Conference titles11 overall
9x Big Ten:
(1953, 1965, 1966,
1978, 1987, 1990,
2010, 2013, 2015)
2x MIAA:
(1903, 1905)
Division titles3 (2011, 2013, 2015)
RivalriesNotre Dame (rivalry)
Indiana (rivalry)
Michigan (rivalry)
Penn State (rivalry)
Consensus All-Americans33
Current uniform
ColorsGreen and white[1]
Fight songVictory for MSU
Marching bandSpartan Marching Band

The Michigan State Spartans football program represents Michigan State University (MSU) in college football at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level. The Spartans are members of the Big Ten Conference. Michigan State claims a total of six national championships, including two (1952, 1965) from major wire-service: AP Poll and/or Coaches' Poll. The Spartans have also won eleven conference championships, with two in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association and nine in the Big Ten.

Home games of the Spartans are played at Spartan Stadium, which is located on the main university campus. Spartan Stadium is consistently ranked among the NCAA's Top 25 in attendance.[2] The Spartans are led by head coach Jonathan Smith.


See also: List of Michigan State Spartans football seasons

1913 Michigan Agricultural College (MSU) vs Michigan

Early years

Starting as a club sport in 1885, football gained varsity status in 1896.[3] Early teams at the then Michigan Agricultural College (MAC) competed in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), which was chartered in 1888 and is the oldest existing collegiate league in the United States. Previously, in 1884, Albion College and Michigan Agricultural had played in the first intercollegiate football game held within the state of Michigan. MIAA's other charter members included Albion, Olivet and Hillsdale Colleges. The association's first season of competitive football was in 1894 which by then also included Eastern Michigan University (then Michigan Normal School) and Alma College; Kalamazoo College was added in 1896. In those early years the MAC Aggies could only accomplish one outright league football championship (1905) and share another with Albion (1903). The first decade of the 20th century generally saw the MIAA and MAC being dominated by either Albion or Olivet Colleges. MSU left the league and became an independent in 1907.

Chester Brewer revolutionized the football program during three different stints as head coach: 1903–10, 1917, and 1919. Considered a defensive genius, his teams posted shutouts in 49 of the 88 games he coached. John Macklin took over as head coach in 1911 and owned a winning percentage of .853 (29–5), which is the highest in Michigan State history.

Jim Crowley, one of Notre Dame's immortal Four Horsemen, served as the head football coach at Michigan State from 1929 to 1933. Charlie Bachman, another Notre Dame alumnus, succeeded Jim Crowley as head football coach at Michigan State, coming to East Lansing after a successful stint at Florida. A teammate of Knute Rockne, Bachman employed the Notre Dame system and forged 10 winning seasons in 13 years.

Clarence "Biggie" Munn era (1947–1953)

Clarence Lester "Biggie" Munn took over as head coach of Michigan State from Charlie Bachman in 1947. His 1951 and 1952 squads won national championships. Munn retired from coaching in 1953 to assume duties as Michigan State's athletic director, a position he held until 1971. Each year, the Michigan State Spartans football team hands out the "Biggie Munn Award" to the team's most motivational player. MSU's Munn Ice Arena, built in 1974, is named in his honor. Munn was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1959, and, in 1961, he became Michigan State's first inductee into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. He authored the coaching textbook Michigan State Multiple Offense in 1953.

Shortly after the Rose Bowl victory, MSU's athletic director, Ralph H. Young retired. Munn stepped down from coaching to assume duties as athletic director and remained in that position until 1971. Munn named his assistant, Duffy Daugherty, as his successor to helm the football team. During his tenure as Michigan State's head football coach, Munn tutored 17 All-Americans. His teams have retained the school's top four season marks for rushing-yards-per-game: 1948 (304.5 yards/game), 1951 (293.9 yards), 1952 (272.4), and 1950 (269.3). Munn was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959.

A football signed by the 1979 Michigan State Spartans football team

During the 1950s when Detroit was known as the world's leading automobile manufacturer, Michigan State was often referred to as the nation's "football factory." During this era, the Spartans produced great players such as Lynn Chandnois, Dorne Dibble, Don McAulliffe, Tom Yewcic, Sonny Grandelius, Bob Carey, Don Coleman, Earl Morrall and Dean Look.

Duffy Daugherty era (1954–1972)

Duffy Daugherty replaced Biggie Munn in December 1953, following Munn's retirement to become Michigan State's athletic director. Daugherty would serve as the head coach at Michigan State University from 1954 to 1972, where he compiled a career record of 109–69–5. Duffy's 1965 and 1966 teams won national championships. Duffy's tenure of 19 seasons at the helm of the Michigan State Spartans football team is the longest of any head coach in the program's history. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984.

Coach Duffy Daugherty

During Daugherty's time in East Lansing, he recruited and coached some of the best players in Michigan State's history, including Herb Adderley, Brad Van Pelt, Bubba Smith, George Webster, Joe DeLamielleure, and Billy Joe DuPree who is recognized as the greatest tight end in Michigan State history. He was one of the first college football coaches to field a racially integrated team.

George Perles era (1983–1994)

After returning from US Army active duty, George Perles returned to Michigan, where he enrolled at Michigan State University and played football under legendary coach Duffy Daugherty. Perles played the 1958 season before his playing career was cut short by a knee injury. Perles then started his football coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State before moving on to the high school ranks in Chicago and Detroit, where his St. Ambrose High School team won their first Detroit City League Championship in 1961. Perles returned to Michigan State as defensive line coach under his mentor, Daugherty.

In 1972, Chuck Noll, head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, offered Perles the position of defensive line coach. In Perles’ first season, the Steelers made the NFL playoffs for the second time in franchise history, the first since 1947, losing to the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game. In 1974, the Steelers won the first of six consecutive AFC Central division championships and also their first Super Bowl. Perles became the defensive coordinator for the Steelers in 1978 and then assistant head coach under Noll in 1979. During Perles' ten years with Pittsburgh (1972–1981), the Steelers won a then-record four Super Bowls and became known as the team of the decade for the 1970s, largely on the back of their "Stunt 4-3" defense designed by Perles.

Perles returned to Michigan State University on December 3, 1982. In 12 years, he led the Spartans to two Big Ten Conference titles, seven bowl games and a victory in the 1988 Rose Bowl. The 1987 season marked the Spartans' last outright Big Ten title until 2013. During the 1987 season Perles and Michigan State beat Southern California twice in the same season, once in the regular season and one in the Rose Bowl.

During 1994–1995, an extensive external investigation conducted by the law firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC. uncovered various infractions including grade tampering by an athletic department administrator. MSU president M. Peter McPherson fired Perles before the end of the 1994 season, and ordered the Spartans to forfeit their five wins for that season. Perles was found "not culpable". Many fans and alumni believed he was treated unfairly. He later went on to be the founder of The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and served on the MSU board of trustees. Perles died in January 2020.

Nick Saban era (1995–1999)

Michigan State playing Illinois in a October 1996 game at Spartan Stadium

When Nick Saban arrived in East Lansing, Michigan, prior to the 1995 season, MSU had not had a winning season since 1990, and the team was sanctioned by the NCAA for recruiting violations committed under his predecessor and former mentor, George Perles.[4]

Saban never won a bowl game in his tenure at Michigan State, going 0–3 and losing those bowl contests by a combined 85 points.[6]

Mark Dantonio era (2006–2019)

Coach Mark Dantonio

On November 27, 2006, Mark Dantonio was hired from the University of Cincinnati to become Michigan State's new football head coach. Dantonio served as an assistant coach at MSU from 1995 to 2000 and was Ohio State's defensive coordinator during their 2002 national championship season.[7] Dantonio was also an assistant at Kansas and Youngstown State University. In 2010, Dantonio led MSU to earn a share of the Big Ten Championship after finishing the year in a three-way tie with Ohio State and Wisconsin. His 2011 team won their division and appeared in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game. His Spartans would win outright Big Ten Championships in 2013 and 2015 with victories in the 2013 and 2015 Championship Games. He has compiled an 8–4 record against the arch-rival Michigan. Michigan State's streak of four wins in a row, from the 2008 season through 2011, tied Michigan State's best in the rivalry. Dantonio's record also includes a 4–4 mark for the Megaphone Trophy, which goes to the winner of the Notre Dame rivalry game. Since leading Michigan State to a College Football Playoff berth in 2015, Dantonio compiled a 24–23 (15–18 in conference games) record.

He is considered a defensive-minded coach and has been on the coaching staffs of Glen Mason, Jim Tressel and Nick Saban. On September 21, 2019, Dantonio became Michigan State's winningest coach with a 31–10 victory over Northwestern that gave him his 110th win at the program and moved him past Duffy Daugherty.[8] As of February 2018, his contract was set to run through 2024. Dantonio made approximately $4.3 million annually.[9] On February 4, 2020, Dantonio announced that he would be stepping down as head coach and planned to move into a different role in the athletic department.

Mel Tucker era (2020–2023)

On February 12, 2020, Mel Tucker was hired from the University of Colorado to become Michigan State's new football head coach. Tucker served as a graduate assistant at MSU from 1997 to 1998, and also had stops as Ohio State's co-defensive coordinator in 2004, assistant head coach at Alabama in 2015, as well as the defensive coordinator for Georgia from 2016 to 2018. He was also an assistant at Miami (OH) and LSU. Tucker also served as defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, and the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL, and he also served as interim head coach of the Jaguars in 2011.

In his first season, the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, the Spartans finished the season 2–5 with a win over rival Michigan.[10]

In 2021, helped by the transfer into the program of running bank Kenneth Walker III, the Spartans again beat Michigan and started the season 8–0 and were ranked third in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. Losses at Purdue and Ohio State dropped the Spartans out of playoff consideration, but they finished the regular season 10–2.[11] MSU was selected to participate in the Peach Bowl on December 30, 2021 the school's first New Year's Six bowl game since 2015.[12] The Spartans defeated Pittsburgh 31–21 in the Peach Bowl.[13] Walker was a consensus All-American[14][15] and became the first Spartan to win the Walter Camp and Doak Walker awards.[16] Walker led the Spartans and was second in the country with 1,636 rushing yards.[17] MSU had the nation's worst passing defense, allowing 337.7 yards per game.[18]

On November 24, 2021, the school announced that Tucker had signed a 10-year, $95 million contract extension, allegedly all through donor money, amid speculations of Tucker being sought after for other college and NFL coaching positions.[19][20]

Looking to build on the success of the 2021 season, the Spartans opened the 2022 season ranked No. 15 in the AP poll. After winning the first two games of the season, the Spartans lost four consecutive games before a double-overtime victory over Wisconsin. However, the Spartans lost three of their final five games, including to rival Michigan, to end the season. They finished the season 5–7, 3–6 in Big Ten play to finish in fifth place in the East division. They failed to qualify for a bowl game for the second time in three years.[21]

On September 10, 2023, after the first two games of the 2023 season, Mel Tucker was suspended without pay pending an investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct.[22] On September 27, the school fired Tucker for cause.[23]

Defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett was named the team's interim coach.

Jonathan Smith era (2023-present)

Michigan State announced it had hired Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith on Nov. 25, 2023.[24]

Conference affiliations


National Championships

Michigan State has won six national championships from NCAA-designated major selectors, including two from the major wire-service AP Poll and/or Coaches' Poll in 1952 and 1965.[25][26][27]: 113  Michigan State claims all six championships.[28] The 1952, 1965, and 1966 titles are regarded as consensus national champions by NCAA designation.[27]: 120 

Year Coach Selectors Record Bowl Result Final AP Final Coaches
1951 Clarence Munn Billingsley, Helms, Poling[27]: 113  9–0 No. 2 No. 2
1952 Clarence Munn AP, Boand, DeVold, Dunkel, Football Research, Helms, Litkenhous, NCF, Sagarin, UPI Coaches , Williamson[27]: 113  9–0 No. 1 No. 1
1955 Duffy Daugherty Boand[27]: 113  9–1 Rose W 17–14 No. 2 No. 2
1957 Duffy Daugherty Dunkel[27]: 113  8–1 No. 3 No. 3
1965 Duffy Daugherty Berryman, Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, FB News, FW, Helms, Litkenhous, NFF, Poling, Sagarin, Sagarin (ELO-Chess), UPI Coaches [27]: 113  10–1 Rose L 12–14 No. 2 No. 1
1966 Duffy Daugherty Football Research, Helms, NFF, Poling[27]: 113  9–0–1 No. 2 No. 2

Conference Championships

Michigan State has won 11 conference championships, six outright and five shared.

Year Conference Coach Overall Record Conference Record
1903 MIAA Chester Brewer 6–1–1 3–1
1905† MIAA Chester Brewer 9–2 4–0
1953† Big Ten Clarence Munn 9–1 5–1
1965 Big Ten Duffy Daugherty 10–1 7–0
1966 Big Ten Duffy Daugherty 9–0–1 7–0
1978† Big Ten Darryl Rogers 8–3 7–1
1987 Big Ten George Perles 9–2–1 7–0–1
1990† Big Ten George Perles 8–3–1 6–2
2010† Big Ten Mark Dantonio 11–2 7–1
2013 Big Ten Mark Dantonio 13–1 8–0
2015 Big Ten Mark Dantonio 12–2 7–1

† Co-champions

Division Championships

Year Division Coach Opponent CG Result
2011 Big Ten Legends Mark Dantonio Wisconsin L, 39–42
2013 Big Ten Legends Mark Dantonio Ohio State W, 34–24
2015 Big Ten East Mark Dantonio Iowa W, 16–13

† Co-champions

Bowl games

Main article: List of Michigan State Spartans bowl games

Michigan State has appeared in 30 bowl games, garnering a 14–16 record.

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
1937 Charlie Bachman Orange Bowl Auburn L 0–6
1953 Clarence Munn Rose Bowl UCLA W 28–20
1955 Duffy Daugherty Rose Bowl UCLA W 17–14
1965 Duffy Daugherty Rose Bowl UCLA L 12–14
1984 George Perles Cherry Bowl Army L 6–10
1985 George Perles Hall of Fame Classic Georgia Tech L 14–17
1987 George Perles Rose Bowl USC W 20–17
1988 George Perles Gator Bowl Georgia L 27–34
1989 George Perles Aloha Bowl Hawaii W 33–13
1990 George Perles John Hancock Bowl USC W 17–16
1993 George Perles Liberty Bowl Louisville L 7–18
1995 Nick Saban Independence Bowl LSU L 26–45
1996 Nick Saban Sun Bowl Stanford L 0–38
1997 Nick Saban Aloha Bowl Washington L 23–51
1999 Bobby Williams Florida Citrus Bowl Florida W 37–34
2001 Bobby Williams Silicon Valley Football Classic Fresno State W 44–35
2003 John L. Smith Alamo Bowl Nebraska L 3–17
2007 Mark Dantonio Champs Sports Bowl Boston College L 21–24
2008 Mark Dantonio Capital One Bowl Georgia L 12–24
2009 Mark Dantonio Alamo Bowl Texas Tech L 31–41
2010 Mark Dantonio Capital One Bowl Alabama L 7–49
2011 Mark Dantonio Outback Bowl Georgia W 33–30 3OT
2012 Mark Dantonio Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl TCU W 17–16
2013 Mark Dantonio Rose Bowl Stanford W 24–20
2014 Mark Dantonio Cotton Bowl Classic Baylor W 42–41
2015 Mark Dantonio Cotton Bowl Classic (CFP Semifinal) Alabama L 0–38
2017 Mark Dantonio Holiday Bowl Washington State W 42–17
2018 Mark Dantonio Redbox Bowl Oregon L 6–7
2019 Mark Dantonio Pinstripe Bowl Wake Forest W 27–21
2021 Mel Tucker Peach Bowl Pittsburgh W 31–21

Head coaches

List of Michigan State head coaches.[29] Mark Dantonio is Michigan State’s all-time winningest coach with 114 wins. Duffy Daugherty was the longest tenured coach at 19 years. Daugherty won four national titles while Clarence Munn won two; no other MSU coach has won a title. Munn leads coaches since 1940 with a .846 winning percentage.

Coach Years Seasons Record Pct. Conf. record Pct. Div. titles Conf. titles Bowl games National titles Conference
No Coach 1896 1 1–2–1 .375 0–1–0 .000 0 0 0 0 MIAA
Henry Keep 1897–1898 2 8–5–1 .607 5–2–1 .688 0 0 0 0 MIAA
Charles Bemies 1899–1900 2 3–7–1 .318 1–3–0 .250 0 0 0 0 MIAA
George Denman 1901–1902 2 7–9–1 .441 5–4–1 .550 0 0 0 0 MIAA
Chester Brewer 1903–1910, 1917, 1919 10 58–23–7 .699 19–2–2 .833 0 2 0 0 Left MIAA in 1907
John Macklin 1911–1915 5 29–5–0 .853 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
Dutch Sommer 1916 1 4–2–1 .643 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
George Gauthier 1918 1 4–3–0 .571 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
George Clark 1920 1 4–6 .400 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
Albert Barron 1921–1922 2 6–10–2 .389 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
Ralph H. Young 1923–1927 5 18–22–1 .451 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 Independent
Harry Kipke 1928 1 3–4–1 .438 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
Jim Crowley 1929–1932 4 22–8–3 .712 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0 Independent
Charlie Bachman 1933–1942, 1944–1946 13 70–34–10 .658 n/a n/a n/a n/a 1 0 Independent
Clarence Munn 1947–1953 7 54–9–2 .846 5–1 .833 n/a 1 1 2 Joined Big Ten in 1953
Duffy Daugherty 1954–1972 19 109–69–5 .609 72–50–3 .588 n/a 2 2 4 Big Ten
Denny Stolz 1973–1975 3 19–13–1 .591 14–9–1 .604 n/a 0 0 0 Big Ten
Darryl Rogers 1976–1979 4 24–18–2 .568 19–12–1 .609 n/a 1 0 0 Big Ten
Muddy Waters 1980–1982 3 10–23–0 .303 8–18–0 .308 n/a 0 0 0 Big Ten
George Perles 1983–1994 12 68–67–4 .504 53–42–2 .557 n/a 2 7 0 Big Ten
Nick Saban 1995–1999 5 34–24–1 .585 23–16–1 .588 n/a 0 3 0 Big Ten
Bobby Williams 2000–2002 > 2 16–17 .469 6–15 .286 n/a 0 2 0 Big Ten
Morris Watts 2002 < 1 1–2 .333 1–2 .333 n/a 0 0 0 Big Ten
John L. Smith 2003-2006 4 22–26 .458 12–20 .375 n/a 0 1 0 Big Ten
Mark Dantonio 2007–2019 13 114–57 .667 69–39 .639 3* 3 12 0 Big Ten
Mel Tucker 2020–2023 3 18–14 .563 12-13 .480 0 0 1 0 Big Ten
Harlon Barnett (Interim) 2023–2023 <1 2-8 2-7 0 0 0 0 Big Ten
Jonathan Smith 2023– 0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 Big Ten
Totals 1896–present 126 726–479–44 .599 324–249–12 .564 3 11 30 6

* The Big Ten split into the Leaders and Legends Divisions with the addition of Nebraska for the 2011 season. Michigan State played in the Legends Division from 2011 to 2013. In 2014, with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers, the divisions were realigned and Michigan State now plays in the East Division.


Spartan Stadium

Main article: Spartan Stadium (East Lansing)

Spartan Stadium hosts varsity football games and other events.

Until the 1920s, the Spartans played on Old College Field just northwest of the current stadium. In the early 1920s school officials voted to construct a new stadium. The new College Field was ready in the fall of 1923 with a capacity of 14,000. In 1935 the seating capacity was increased to 26,000 and the facility was dedicated as Macklin Field. By 1957, upper decks were added to the east and west sides, boosting the capacity to 76,000. That same season Michigan State dropped the name Macklin Stadium in favor of the current name, Spartan Stadium.[30]

In 2005 the university finished a new $64 million expansion project to Spartan Stadium. It featured the addition of nearly 3,000 club seats in the "Spartan Club," 24 suites and a 193-seat press box, bringing the current stadium capacity to 75,005. The original World War II-era terracotta cast of "The Spartan" statue was moved indoors to the atrium of the new structure to protect it from the elements and occasional vandalism, and a new bronze cast was made for outdoors. The 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) addition also houses the MSU Alumni Office, University Development, Career Services and other units.[31]

The stadium boasts a capacity of 75,005, making it the Big Ten's 6th largest stadium and 23rd largest college football stadium in the country. In 2010 Spartan Stadium had the 19th highest attendance in NCAA Division I FBS.[32] Crowd noise in the stadium gets so loud that Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960) uses a recording of the crowd noise during the 1959 Michigan State-Notre Dame game.[33]

For the 2007 season, the student section held approximately 13,000 fans.[34] Like the basketball student section (the Izzone), the Michigan State Student Alumni Foundation used to oversee a subgroup in the football student section named "Corner Blitz." When head coach Mark Dantonio took over the football program in 2006, "Corner Blitz" was united with the normal student section. The entire student section now receives a special T-shirt which is voted on annually.[35]

Three new video boards were installed prior to the 2012 season. The larger South LED board measures 47.2 feet (14.4 m) high by 114.8 feet (35.0 m) wide for a total of 5,412 square feet (502.8 m2). The two North LED boards measure 31.5 feet (9.6 m) high by 52.5 feet (16.0 m) wide for a total of 1,653.75 square feet (153.638 m2) each. When combined, the three boards measure 8,719.5 square feet (810.07 m2), making it the largest combined board system in the country. Also, the stadium includes a 10 feet (3.0 m) high by 450 feet (140 m) wide ribbon video board along the top of the bleachers in the north endzone, which adds another 4,500 square feet (420 m2) to make a grand total of 13,219.5 square feet (1,228.13 m2).

Duffy Daugherty Building / Skandalaris Center

In 2007 Michigan State expanded its Duffy Daugherty Football Building with a $15 million expansion and renovation project. The face-lift started with construction of the 25,000-square-foot (2,300 m2) Skandalaris Football Center that features new team, staff and position meeting rooms, coaches' offices, MSU football Players Lounge and The Demmer Family Hall of History. MSU alumni Robert and Julie Skandalaris of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., donated $5 million as the lead gift for the $15 million project. In 2008, weight room was increased in size from 9,000 to 16,500 square feet (1,530 m2) at a cost of $2 million. The complex includes a 86,000-square-foot (8,000 m2) indoor practice facility with a full in-door football field, two outdoor practice football fields and a training room with a rehab and hydrotherapy section. Graphics in the space were provided by Ohio-based environmental designer, Ze Design.[36]



Main article: Michigan–Michigan State football rivalry

The Paul Bunyan-Governor of Michigan Trophy is a college rivalry trophy awarded to the winner of the annual football game between Michigan and Michigan State. Michigan won the 2023 game in East Lansing by a score of 49-0. Michigan leads the trophy series 40-29-2 through the 2023 season.[37]

Notre Dame

Main article: Michigan State–Notre Dame football rivalry

The Megaphone Trophy is awarded each year to the winner of the football game between Notre Dame and Michigan State. The rivalry includes games such as a 1966 "Game of the Century," often considered as one of the greatest college football games ever played. Notre Dame leads the series 48–28–1 through the 2021 season.[38] The teams are next scheduled to play in 2026.[39]


Main article: Indiana–Michigan State football rivalry

The Old Brass Spittoon is presented to the winner of the Indiana–Michigan State football game and was first presented in 1950. After facing each other in one of the so-called protected cross-division rivalry games from 2011 to 2013, MSU and Indiana continue to face off each year as members of the Big Ten East division. Indiana holds the trophy, and MSU leads the all-time series 50-17-2 through 2022.[40]

Penn State

Main article: Michigan State–Penn State football rivalry

Michigan State and Penn State play for the Land Grant Trophy, so named because Penn State University and Michigan State University are the nation's oldest land-grant universities as founded in 1855. When Penn State joined the Big Ten Conference in 1993, the Nittany Lions and Spartans have played each other for the trophy in the last week of conference play until the 2010 season. The trophy, designed by former Michigan State coach George Perles, features pictures of Penn State's Old Main and Michigan State's Beaumont Tower. After spending the 2011 to 2013 seasons in opposite Big Ten conference divisions, MSU and PSU resumed playing each other annually for the trophy in 2014.[41] The series is tied at 18-18-1 through the 2022 season.[42]

Game of the Century

The "Game of the Century" (1966 version)
1234 Total
Notre Dame 0703 10
Michigan State 7300 10
DateNovember 19, 1966
StadiumSpartan Stadium
LocationEast Lansing, Michigan

Main article: 1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State football game

This section may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. Consider splitting content into sub-articles, condensing it, or adding subheadings. Please discuss this issue on the article's talk page. (September 2016)

The 1966 Michigan State vs. Notre Dame football game ("The Game of the Century") remains one of the greatest, and most controversial, games in college football history.[43] The game was played in Michigan State's Spartan Stadium on November 19, 1966. Michigan State entered the contest 9–0 and ranked No. 2, while Notre Dame entered the contest 8–0 and ranked No. 1. Notre Dame elected not to try for the end zone on the final series, thus the game ended in a 10–10 tie with both schools recording national championships.[44][45]

Irish quarterback Terry Hanratty was knocked out after getting sacked in the first quarter by Spartan defensive lineman Bubba Smith. Starting Notre Dame running back Nick Eddy was out entirely after hurting his shoulder getting off the train in East Lansing. Michigan State held a 10–0 lead by early in the second quarter. But the Irish came back, scoring a touchdown right after Michigan State's field goal and tied the game on the first play of the fourth quarter. Notre Dame had the ball on its own 30-yard line with 1:10 to go, needing about 40 yards for a game-winning field goal. But Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian chose to run the clock out, not wanting to risk a turnover, preserving the tie and Notre Dame's No. 1 ranking. The game ended in a 10–10 tie.

Notre Dame beat Rose Bowl bound USC 51–0 in Los Angeles the next week, completing an undefeated regular season and moving them to No. 1 in both polls. The Irish did not accept bowl bids until 1969, and Michigan State was the victim of a pair of Big Ten rules that would be rescinded a few years later: The same school could not represent the league in the Rose Bowl in back-to-back seasons, and only the league Champions could accept a bowl bid, unless they refused the Rose Bowl bid or, because it was on probation, were prohibited from accepting the bid, which, in either case, would then go to the second-place team. So despite being Big Ten Champions and undefeated in the regular season, in each case for two seasons in a row, the Spartans could not play in the Rose Bowl.

For nearly 50 years, Parseghian has defended his end-of-the-game strategy, which left many fans feeling disappointed at the game not having some sort of resolution. College football expert Dan Jenkins lead off his article for Sports Illustrated by saying Parseghian chose to "Tie one for the Gipper." Others chided Notre Dame by calling them the "Tying Irish" instead of the "Fighting Irish."

The game was not shown live on national TV. Each team was allotted one national television appearance and two regional television appearances each season. Notre Dame had used their national TV slot in the season opening game against Purdue. ABC executives did not even want to show the game anywhere but the regional area, but pressure from the West Coast and the South (to the tune of 50,000 letters) made ABC air the game on tape delay.

The Sporting News named the 1966 Fighting Irish and 1965–66 Spartans the 11th and 13th greatest teams of the 20th century respectively.[citation needed]

Individual awards and honors

National award winners



Big Ten Conference honors

Consensus All-Americans

Through the 2022 season, there have been 33 consensus selections of which 11 were unanimous.[47]

Player Position Years
Neno DaPrato B 1915
Sidney Wagner G 1935
Ed Bagdon G 1949
Bob Carey E 1951
Don Coleman T 1951†
Don Dohoney E 1953
Norm Masters T 1955
Earl Morrall B 1955
Dan Currie C 1957
Walt Kowalczyk B 1957
Sam Williams E 1958
George Saimes B 1962
Sherman Lewis B 1963
Bubba Smith DE 1965, 1966†
George Webster DB 1965†, 1966†
Clinton Jones B 1966
Brad Van Pelt DB 1972†
Lorenzo White RB 1985†, 1987
Tony Mandarich OL 1988
Bob Kula OL 1989
Percy Snow LB 1989†
Charles Rogers WR 2002†
Brandon Fields P 2004
Javon Ringer RB 2008
Greg Jones LB 2009, 2010†
Jerel Worthy DL 2011
Darqueze Dennard DB 2013†
Kenneth Walker III RB 2021†
Bryce Baringer P 2022

† Unanimous All-American

Team honors

Retired numbers

See also: List of NCAA football retired numbers

No. Player Pos. Tenure N° ret. Ref.
26 Clinton Jones RB 1964-1966 2015 [48]
46 John Hannah [n1 1]
1969 [52]
48 Percy Snow LB 1986–1989 2013 [53]
78 Don Coleman T 1949–1951 1951 [52]
90 George Webster LB 1964–1966 1967 [52]
95 Charles "Bubba" Smith DE 1964–1966 2006 [52]
  1. ^ Hannah was not a player but he served Michigan State University during 46 years (28 of them as president of the institution).[49] He is also the longest-serving president of the MSU, being in charge from 1941 to 1969.[50][51]

Hall of Fame inductees

College Football Hall of Fame

See also: College Football Hall of Fame

14 former Michigan State players and coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, located in Atlanta, Georgia.[54]

Bubba Smith (1963–1966)
Kirk Gibson (1975–1978)
Name Position Tenure Inducted Ref.
Biggie Munn Head coach 1947–1953 1959 [55]
John Pingel QB/HB/P 1935–1938 1968 [56]
Don Coleman OT 1948–1951 1975 [57]
Charlie Bachman Head coach 1944–1946 1978 [58]
Duffy Daugherty Head coach 1954–1972 1984 [59]
George Webster LB 1963–1966 1987 [60]
Bubba Smith DE 1963–1966 1988 [61]
Frank Waters Head coach 1980–1982 2000 [62]
Brad Van Pelt S 1969–1972 2001 [63]
Gene Washington WR 1963–1966 2011 [64]
Percy Snow LB 1986–1989 2013 [65]
Clinton Jones RB 1963–1966 2015 [66][67]
Kirk Gibson WR 1975–1978 2017 [68]
Lorenzo White RB 1984–1987 2019 [69]

Pro Football Hall of Fame

See also: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Three former Michigan State players have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, located in Canton, Ohio.[70]

Name Position Career Inducted Ref.
Herb Adderley HB 1957–1960 1980 [71]
Joe DeLamielleure OG 1969–1972 2003 [72]
Morten Andersen K 1978–1981 2017 [73]

Canadian Football Hall of Fame

See also: Canadian Football Hall of Fame

There are two Michigan State alumni inductees to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.[74]

Name Position Career Inducted Ref.
Abe Eliowitz Multiple 1929–1932 1969 [75]
Dan Bass LB 1976–1979 2000 [76]

Rose Bowl Hall of Fame

The Rose Bowl has inducted two Michigan State player into the Rose Bowl Game Hall of Fame.

Name Position Years Inducted Ref.
Dave Kaiser WR/CB/K 1953–1956 1999 [77]
Lorenzo White RB 1984–1987 2022 [78]

Future opponents

Big Ten expansion

Oregon, UCLA, USC, and Washington are set to join the Big Ten beginning with the 2024 season, moving the conference to 18 total teams.[79] On October 4, 2023, the Big Ten announced a new scheduling structure beginning with the 2024 season to accommodate the four teams joining the conference.[80] The conference had previously announced the elimination of divisions after UCLA and USC had announced their intent to join the conference.[81]

The scheduling model, named "Flex Protect XVII model," will protect 12 intra-conference matchups each year (protected rivalry games), with MSU playing Michigan each year.[82] The conference announced matchups for all teams from 2024 through 2028.

2023 Big Ten opponents

Michigan State will play the other six Big Ten East opponents (Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutgers) as well as Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska in 2023 before the elimination of the divisions in the Big Ten.[83]

2024 Big Ten opponents

In 2024, the Spartans will play five home games and four road games in conference.[84]

home away
Indiana Illinois
Iowa Maryland
Ohio State Michigan
Purdue Oregon

2025 Big Ten opponents

In 2025, the Spartans will play four home games and five road games in conference.[84]

home away
Maryland Indiana
Michigan Iowa
Penn State Minnesota
UCLA Nebraska

2026 Big Ten opponents

In 2026, the Spartans will play five home games and four road games in conference.[84]

home away
Illinois Michigan
Nebraska Rutgers
Northwestern UCLA
Oregon Wisconsin

2027 Big Ten opponents

In 2027, the Spartans will play four home games and five road games in conference.[84]

home away
Indiana Northwestern
Michigan Ohio State
Rutgers Penn State
Wisconsin Purdue

2028 Big Ten opponents

In 2028, the Spartans will play five home games and four road games in conference.[84]

home away
Iowa Illinois
Minnesota Maryland
Penn State Michigan
Purdue Oregon

Non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of July, 2023.[85][86]

2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032
Central Michigan Florida Atlantic Western Michigan Toledo Central Michigan Western Michigan Central Michigan Western Michigan at BYU
Richmond Prairie View A&M Youngstown State Eastern Michigan Notre Dame
Washington at Boston College Boston College at Notre Dame


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