When: Oct. 22, 2011
Final: UW 31, MSU 37
ESPN's "College GameDay" had itself a remarkable matchup in East Lansing when Wisconsin and Michigan State clashed in October. Wisconsin was determined to be the team that could possibly represent the Big Ten in the BCS National Championship, but once again, the Spartans handed the Badgers their first loss of the season, only this time with a historical "Hail Mary" finish.
Wisconsin struck early in the game by posting two touchdowns within the first seven minutes of the half. The Badgers had 14 offensive plays committed before the Spartans even had two, and this was due to Edwin Baker's forced fumble by Wisconsin from the very first play of scrimmage.
It would seem that the Spartans would have been demoralized early in the game, but instead they were resilient and posted big plays of their own.
The Spartans defense forced Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson to commit intentional grounding inside their own end zone, giving the Spartans two points for a safety. Shortly after the safety the Spartans scored their first touchdown with a double-end around play to cut the deficit into five points.
The Spartans defense remained dominant, as they posted a blocked field goal plus a blocked punt for a touchdown before halftime.
The play of the game was near as the Spartans had the final possession of the second half. The Badgers posted a great comeback to force a potential overtime; however, the Spartans marched down the field on their last offensive drive and produced one of the most memorable plays in the 2011 season.
MSU quarterback Kirk Cousins received a shotgun snap and drifted to the right side of the field to throw a pass towards the end zone. The ball was thrown right to MSU receiver B.J. Cunningham, but bounced off his helmet back into the playing field.
MSU receiver Keith Nichol was magically in the right place to catch the ball and push forward just enough to break the plane of the end zone. The play was considered dead at the 2-yard line. However, the play was heavily reviewed, and the officials claimed the ball did penetrate the end zone good enough for the Spartans to score the winning touchdown.
The nation will remember this game as of the best instant-classic finishes in Big Ten history, and once again, it was this matchup that fueled the season for the Spartans as it did in 2010.