There have been plenty of classics between these two, but some are just a smidge above the rest. Here are the top five games of the Michigan vs Michigan State rivalry.
No. 5: 1980 Michigan 27-23 wins on a big call by Bo Schembechler
The Wolverines bested the unranked Michigan State Spartans in a game that came down to the wire back in 1980. The biggest moment of the game: the Spartans were called for a roughing the kicker penalty after the Wolverines kicker Ali Haji-Sheikh made a field goal making the score 16-13. Instead of taking the points, Bo Schembechler took the penalty and the Wolverines put it in the endzone a few plays later. After the game, Schembechler famously said, “So old Bo isn’t too dumb is he?”
Michigan would seal the game with an interception with under two minutes to play in the game.
No. 4: The botched punt in 2015
Listen. I didn’t say this would be easy.
In the first game of Harbaugh’s tenure, one of the most crushing losses in the rivalry occurred with the botched punt that every Maize and Blue fan wishes to forget.
Kenny Allen hit three field goals in the game but they failed to put the ball in the endzone which inevitably cost the Wolverines in this one.
No. 3: Non-PI call costs Michigan on two-point conversion attempt in 1990
Michigan came into this game under Gary Moeller as the No. 1 team in the land in the infamous “No. One vs No One” game.
The guys in the winged helmets found themselves down a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Then this drive happened:
Desmond Howard was clearly tripped up on the two-point conversion attempt that would have won Michigan the football game.
No. 2.5: Michigan 119, Michigan Agricultural College 0
After all the grief of the previous two spots, let’s just remember who has been the head honcho in this one all along. Michigan smashed Michigan Agricultural College (AKA Michigan State) in their second meeting by a whopping 119 points back in 1902 in the second meeting between these two teams. This may not have been a top game in the rivalry and it may have happened over 100 years ago, but it shan't be forgotten anytime soon by the Wolverine faithful.
No. 2: 2005 Michigan upsets the Spartans in OT
The Wolverines came out hot scoring the first 14 points of the game thanks to two touchdown passes from Chad Henne. Michigan would then collapse in the second quarter, as State brought the game within three points heading into halftime at 24-21.
After a one-yard TD rush by Mike Hart, Michigan took a 31-24 lead in East Lansing. They got the ball back with under seven minutes to play, but Henne fumbled the ball in the endzone and the Spartans recovered, tying the game at 31. With 48 second left, Michigan kicker Garrett Rivas missed a 26-yard field goal that sent the game into overtime.
Michigan State got the first possession of the overtime period, but Jon Goss missed a 38-yard field goal that would have put them in the lead.
Instead of going for a touchdown, the Wolverines set themselves up in the middle of the field for a 35-yard attempt, and a chance for redemption for Rivas.
No. 1: Michigan wins 45-37 in 3OT in 2004
The No. 12 Wolverines found themselves down 27-10 in the fourth quarter with less than 7-minutes to play. But just like every Lloyd Carr coached team, they never gave up. Henne found Braylon Edward twice in the final six minutes of the game to tie this one up at 27.
Dave Rayner had a chance to win it for the Spartans, but he missed a 53-yard field goal as time expired.
The teams split field goals in the first overtime, and in the second, Spartans RB jason Teague found the endzone on a two-yard rush. Michigan took over and score on a 6-yard pass from Henne to Jason Avant.
Then, Michigan came right back onto the field and road that momentum as Edwards caught his third touchdown of the game on a 24-yard pass from Henne. The two-point conversion was a successful completion to Tim Massaquoi.
Michigan State took the field looking to answer, but had a 15-yard penalty called against them making it 2nd and 25. The Spartans wouldn’t recover throwing back-to-back incomplete pass ending the best game in the history of this rivalry.