1. Michigan State was the last of the "original" members of the Big Ten to join the conference. The Spartans joined the Big Ten in 1949 but did not play a full conference football schedule until 1953.
2. Now for a brief aside on the history of the Big Ten. The conference was formed in 1896 with seven members: Chicago, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin. Indiana and Iowa joined in 1899. Michigan withdrew from the conference in 1908, only to return in 1917. In the meantime, Ohio State joined in 1912. When Chicago permanently withdrew in 1946, Michigan State was recruited to become the new tenth member of the conference that for four decades had been informally known as The Big Ten. (The conference was originally incorporated as the Intercollegiate Conference Athletic Association, and did not officially obtain the name "Big Ten" until 1987.) Of course, subsequent expansion has seen the addition of Penn State (1993), Nebraska (2011), Maryland (2014), and Rutgers (2014).
3. Ohio State leads the series 33-15-0 (.688), with a 33-13-0 (.717) record in Big Ten play. Ohio State has outscored Michigan State 1,230 to 773, or 25.6 to 16.1 on a per game basis.
4. The teams first played on November 28, 1912, a game which Michigan State won by the score of 35 to 20. The teams would not play again until the 1951 season.
5. Michigan State has 9 Big Ten championships, the most recent being the 2015 season. After earning a national championship in 1966 (see below), the Spartans experienced an extended downturn, winning only four Big Ten titles in the next 44 years. The Spartans have been resurgent in recent years, winning a co-championship in 2010 and outright championships in 2013 and 2015.
6. Michigan State has one undisputed national championship, that being for their perfect 1952 season when the Spartans won both the AP and UP (coaches) titles. The NCAA also recognizes national championships for 1965 (coaches poll, which was awarded prior to Michigan State's loss in the Rose Bowl) and 1966 (NFF co-championship with Notre Dame). Michigan State also claims national championships for 1951 (9-0-0 record; #2 AP; #2 CP), 1955 (9-1-0 record; Rose Bowl victory; #2 AP; #2 CP), and 1957 (8-1-0; #3 AP; #3 CP). The 1957 claim is particularly laughable, as the Spartans did not even win the Big Ten title that year (Ohio State did, en route to a 9-1-0 record, a Rose Bowl victory, a coaches poll national championship, and a #2 finish in the AP poll).
7. Five times Michigan State has ruined a perfect season for Ohio State. The first time came on November 11, 1972, when #5 Ohio State (7-0-0) lost to unranked Michigan State (3-4-1) by a score of 19-12. Ohio State would rebound from the loss to win the Big Ten championship and finish the regular season at #3 in both major polls. The Buckeyes played #1 Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl in the de facto national title game and lost, 42-17.
8. The second came on November 9, 1974, when #1 Ohio State (8-0-0) lost to unranked Michigan State (4-3-1) by a score of 16-13. The game featured an 88-yard touchdown run by Michigan State tailback Levi Jackson, the 7th-longest play from scrimmage ever against Ohio State, and a controversial ending that saw the Buckeyes come up a foot short from the game-winning touchdown as time expired (replays showed that Ohio State got the play off in time and that Cornelius Greene crossed the goal line). The Buckeyes would again rebound from that loss and win the Big Ten championship and secure a berth in the Rose Bowl. In another national championship showdown with Southern Cal, the Buckeyes lost a heartbreaker, 18-17 on a last-minute touchdown and two-point conversion.
9. The third came on November 7, 1998, a date that will live in infamy. #1 Ohio State (8-0) lost to unranked Michigan State (4-4). Down 24-9 in the middle of the third quarter, Michigan State punted from its own end zone. The Spartan punter shanked the ball so badly that it hit the back of an Ohio State gunner (Nate Clements) and Michigan State recovered the muff near midfield. A quick Spartan touchdown cut the score to 24-15, but the Buckeyes still seemed to be firmly in control. In reality, the wheels were falling off one by one. The ensuing Buckeye possession lasted a grand total of two plays and 11 seconds before a fumble killed the drive; the Spartans kicked a field goal to cut the lead to 24-18. The next Ohio State drive ended with a punt followed by the go-ahead Michigan State touchdown. Then another punt, another fumble, and a turnover on downs. Even after that comedy of errors, Ohio State still had a chance to pull out a sloppy victory with a first-and-ten in the red zone, but Joe Germaine threw three straight incompletions and an interception as time expired. Michigan State had pulled off one of the greatest upsets of all time, 28-24. Ohio State recovered from the Spartan debacle by beating Iowa 45-14 and Michigan 31-16 to complete the regular reason at 10-1-0. Tennessee was the only major program to finish the regular season undefeated, and they secured one spot in the inaugural BCS Championship Game. Florida State, with a bad early loss, was selected over Ohio State, with a bad late loss, for the other spot. The Volunteers won that game to secure an undisputed national championship. Meanwhile, Ohio State beat Texas A+M in the Sugar Bowl by the score of 24-14 to finish #2 in both the AP and the coaches poll.
10. A little known fact about the 1998 contest: Michigan State had 15 tackles for loss (5th most allowed by Ohio State in one game) for 86 yards lost (most allowed by Ohio State in one game).
11. The fourth came on December 7, 2013, when #2 Ohio State (12-0) lost to #10 Michigan State (11-1) in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Spartans got off to a quick 17-0 start, but the Buckeyes scored 24 unanswered points to take a touchdown lead midway through the third quarter. Ohio State imploded soon thereafter, allowing Michigan State to score the final 17 points of the game to win 34-24. Buckeye quarterback Braxton Miller was particularly ineffective down the stretch, with 6 rushes for 18 yards (including a failure to convert a crucial fourth-and-2) and 1 completion in 7 pass attempts for 3 yards. As the winner of the Big Ten, Michigan State went to the Rose Bowl where they defeated Stanford, 24-20, to finish with a 13-1 record and #3 in both major polls. Ohio State went to the Orange Bowl where they lost to Clemson, 40-35, to finish with a 12-2 record, #12 in the AP poll, and #10 in the coaches poll.
12. The fifth Michigan State ruination of an Ohio State perfect season came just last year, when the 9-1 Spartans defeated the 10-0 Buckeyes on a cold, windy, rainy November night in Columbus. Although Michigan State entered the game with just one loss, the Spartans had been living on the edge all season long with single-digit wins against Oregon (3 points); Purdue (3 points); Michigan (4 points); and Rutgers (7 points) on their résumé. The highlight of the Spartans' season, and the moment that pointed to Michigan State as a possible team of destiny, was the play now known as the Agony in Ann Arbor. But the undefeated Buckeyes also had their share of issues during the 2015 season, with a quarterback controversy, a tendency to play down to the competition, and generally lackluster performances not typically expected of a defending national champion having a roster loaded with future NFL stars. Michigan State played without their starting quarterback, fifth-year senior Connor Cook, but Ohio State played without any intensity, direction, or desire and the Buckeyes went down to defeat on a last-second field goal by the score of 17 to 14.
13. Michigan State almost ruined a perfect season for Ohio State in 2007. The #1 Buckeyes (7-0) jumped out to a 24-0 lead over the unranked Spartans (5-2). Then with 4:03 left in the third quarter, Michigan State's Otis Wiley picked off Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman and returned the interception 54 yards for a touchdown. Two plays later, Boeckman fumbled and Michigan State's SirDarean Adams scooped-and-scored from 25 yards out to cut the lead to 24-14. Michigan State added a fourth quarter field goal, but behind the running of Beanie Wells (31 carries, 221 yards, 7.1 average, TD) the Buckeyes were eventually able to Tresselball their way to a 24-17 victory.
14. In 1981, Ohio State beat Michigan State, 27-13. The most notable play in that game was a 63-yard field goal by the Spartans' Morten Andersen, one of the longest field goals in NCAA history and the longest ever against Ohio State.
15. In the 1997 contest, Buckeye defensive back Gary Berry scored on a 45-yard interception return and a 1-yard blocked punt return, one of the few times that a Buckeye defender has scored twice in the same game. Ohio State would go on to win by the score of 37 to 13.
16. In 2004, freshman Ted Ginn, Jr. had his coming out party against Michigan State in week nine. In his first eight games, Ginn had a total of 221 all-purpose yards (27.6 per game) and 2 touchdowns. In the Michigan State game, Ginn exploded for 169 all-purpose yards and 3 touchdowns (17-yard run, 58-yard reception, 60-yard punt return) and led the Buckeyes to a 32-19 victory.
17. In the 2005 game against Michigan State, Ashton Youboty did something that no other Ohio State player has ever done before or since (at least according to the official record book): he returned a blocked field goal attempt for a touchdown. With just seconds left in the first half, Michigan State was leading 17-7 and driving in the red zone. With no time outs and facing 3rd-and-12, the Spartans hurriedly rushed their field goal unit onto the field when they could have simply spiked the ball to stop the clock and attempt the kick on fourth down. The disorganized Spartans got the snap off in time (a bad move, as things turned out) but failed to pick up their blocking assignments. Several Buckeyes broke through the line and Nate Salley blocked the kick. Youboty scooped it up and raced 72 yards, scoring with no time left on the clock. Instead of leading 20-7, the Spartans were now up by only three points heading into the locker room, and that inspired an epic meltdown from Michigan State head coach John L. Smith: "The kids are playing their tails off, and the coaches are screwing it up!" Riding the momentum from the blocked field goal, Ohio State owned the second half and won the game 35-24. Just another example of Sparty being Sparty.
18. In that 2005 contest, Ohio State had a team-record 12 quarterback sacks, including four from linebacker Bobby Carpenter and three from defensive tackle David Patterson.
19. In the 2008 game, Ohio State won 45-7. The Buckeye offense gained only 332 yards, but the defense forced five turnovers (3 fumbles, 2 interceptions) including a pair of scoop sixes from Thaddeus Gibson (69 yards) and Jermale Hines (48 yards). It was (and remains) only the second time in Ohio State history that the team had two fumble recoveries for touchdowns in the same game (the other being against Fresno State in 2000). Gibson's return is the 3rd-longest in Ohio State history, while Hines's is the 7th-longest.
20. Speaking of long fumble recoveries, Michael Doss had the 2nd-longest scoop-and-score in Buckeye history with a 73-yard return against Michigan State in 2000.
21. Michigan State has never shut out Ohio State, but they came very close in 2011. The Spartans were leading the game 10-0 with ten seconds left in the fourth quarter when Buckeye quarterback Joe Bauserman hit Evan Spencer for a 33-yard touchdown pass to prevent the whitewashing. For the game, Michigan State's defense held the Buckeyes to 178 yards of total offense and recorded nine quarterback sacks, the most ever allowed by Ohio State.
22. In 2014, #14 Ohio State (7-1) faced off against #8 Michigan State (7-1) in a battle for supremacy in the Big Ten. With 4:37 left in the second quarter, the Spartans took a 21-14 lead and once again had the ball thanks to a fumbled kick-off by Ohio State's Dontre Wilson. The Spartans appeared to score on an 11-yard run from Jeremy Langford, but a holding call wiped the touchdown off the board. The Buckeye defense then stiffened and held the Spartans to a 39-yard field goal attempt, which was wide left. Ohio State took over at their own 21-yard line and on the very next play J.T. Barrett hit Michael Thomas for a 79-yard touchdown pass, which is tied for 9th-longest pass in Ohio State history. The Buckeyes never relinquished momentum and would go on to win by the score of 49-37, racking up 568 yards against one of the best defenses in the country.
23. Ohio State had another 79-yard touchdown pass against Michigan State in the 1987 contest. On the very first play from scrimmage, Buckeye quarterback Tom Tupa threw a 79-yard pass to Everett Ross to take a 7-0 lead just fifteen seconds into the game. However, the Buckeyes had only 68 total yards on their remaining 48 plays (1.42 yards per play) and ended up losing the game 13-7. The Spartans defense was led by Travis Davis, who had five sacks for 37 yards lost. Michigan State would finish the 1987 season with a record of 9-2-1, an outright Big Ten championship, a Rose Bowl victory against Southern Cal, and a #8 finish in both major polls. Ohio State would lose its next two games (26-24 to Wisconsin; 29-27 to Iowa); fire head coach Earle Bruce; rally to beat Michigan 23-20; and finish the season 6-4-1, unranked, with no bowl game.
24. Since the loss in 2015, Ohio State has beaten Michigan State four times in a row by a combined score of 115 to 35. #4 Ohio State (4-0) enters the 2020 contest as a 23.5-point favorite over unranked Michigan State (2-3), with an over/under of 59.5 points.
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