Michigan State returns to the Rose Bowl and wins

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After many years the Spartans of Michigan State are no longer anyone’s shadow. And for the first time in 26 years, they are Rose Bowl champions.

Stanford (11-3) lost their first bowl since the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.

Michigan State ‘s defense responded after a very difficult first quarter, in which it yielded 146 yards. But they only gave up 23 yards and one first down in the second quarter.

That did not stop Stanford’s Kevin Anderson who picked off a pass by Connor Cook and returned it for a touchdown with two minutes left in the half.

The Spartans responded quickly. Cook shook off his mistake, leading the team down the field, throwing a touchdown pass to Trevon Pendleton and changing the scoreboard to 17-14 to start halftime.

In the second half, Cook connected with Bennie Fowler on a 60-yard pass that set MSU up for Michael Geiger to tie the game with a 31-yard field goal.

Trae Waynes of MSU intercepted a Kevin Hogan pass at the Michigan 22 and MSU moved the ball into Stanford territory, but did not score any points. Mike Sadfler punted, pinning Stanford on their own 7-yard line.

When Standord was at MSU’s 38 with fourth down and three yards to a first down, they opted for a running play, but Tyler Gaffney was stuffed for a 3-yard loss and the Cardinal turned the ball over on downs with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.

Jeremy Langford was the go-to-guy for MSU, rushing the ball down the field and catching one pass. Connor Cook connected on one pass to Macgarrett Kings, Jr., but on the next rushing play Langford fumbled on the Stanford 8-yard line and Josh Mauro of Stanford recovered the ball, ending MSU’s bid to take the lead for the first time in the game.

The third quarter ended with the scored tied, 17-17.

The game-winning touchdown play in which Connor Cook passed to Tony Lippett for a 25-yard touchdown. (Photo is screen shot from game video on YouTube)
The game-winning touchdown play in which Connor Cook passed to Tony Lippett for a 25-yard touchdown.
(Photo is screen shot from game video on YouTube)

The Cardinal was forced to punt and the Spartans got great field position on the run back by Mcgarrett Kings, Jr. MSU started their drive on the Stanford 27-yard line.

After a five-yard penalty (false start), Connor Cook completed two passes; the first to Josiah Price for nine yard and then a 25-yard touchdown pass to Tony Lippett. Michael Geiger’s extra point was good and the score was 24-17, the Spartans’ first lead of the game.

The teams traded punts before Michael Rector did a reverse and rushed for 27 yards, putting Stanford on the MSU 45-yard line for a first down. Michigan State was hit with a 10-yard holding penalty, putting Stanford on the MSU 33.

A sack of Hogan left the Cardinals in third and long and a pass to Barry Sanders left Stanford with fourth down and five yards to go.

Stanford sent out its field goal unit, but was penalized for an ineligible man downfield. Jordan Williamson kicked a 39-yard field goal to bring the score to 24-20 with 4:15 left in the game. That would be the final scoring in the game.

The Spartans did nothing on the next offensive series and were forced to punt with 3:19 to play. The MSU defense was stiff, forcing Stanford to turn the ball over on downs.

It was a great victory for Michigan State University in their first return to the Rose Bowl in 26 years.