15. Denicos Allen’s fumble recovery touchdown against Purdue
Points were hard to come by for Michigan State against the Boilermakers as the offense wasn’t clicking at all, but it brought a highlight for Allen. The senior linebacker recorded his first career touchdown, scooping up a fumble forced by fellow linebacker Max Bullough and raced in from 45 yards out to give the Spartans their first touchdown of the day.
It was one of the many highlights for Allen in his final season in the green and white.
14. Charlie Brown
Mark Dantonio and trick play names go together like green and white in East Lansing. Perhaps the greatest name yet – or at the least the most fitting – Charlie Brown was a fake field goal where the holder, Mike Sadler, pulled the ball up and ran a la the Peanuts cartoon. In a one-score game, Sadler gained four yards on a fourth-and-1 from the Nebraska 27 on a play Dantonio told them to expect to run at halftime.
When I saw him in the hallway on his way to the locker room immediately following the game, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him the name and he replied: “Charlie Brown. At least that’s what I ran, I don’t know what everyone else ran.” As it turned out, Sadler was supposed to check out of the play, but it worked nonetheless and the Spartans finished the drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Connor Cook to Keith Mumphery to extend the lead to two scores.
Sadler, ‘Charlie Brown’ successful
13. MacGarrett Kings’ touchdown at Iowa
Kings already made the list for having the first downfield passing touchdown of the season for the Spartans, but he also provided the first “explosive play” for Michigan State. It took until the Spartans went to Iowa City to get its first play of 40 or more yards, but it came in big fashion. Jeremy Langford picked up a key block up the middle and gave Cook the time to hit Kings in stride on a deep cross. Kings beat his man, sidestepped a block set by Bennie Fowler, then used a brilliant but slight slow step to elude his defender who caught up to him and walked into the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown.
It was signs of things to come for the Michigan State offense, which got the Big Ten season off on the right foot.
12. Shilique Calhoun’s pick-six against South Florida
Bane was a force to be reckoned with early in the season. In a game in which Andrew Maxwell was the leading passer with just 40 yards, Calhoun had a 56-yard interception return – his third touchdown in two games.
Allen came off the edge and hit South Florida quarterback Bobby Eveld and Taiwan Jones deflected the pass, which fell to Calhoun. The defensive end grabbed it and outran all the Bulls into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game, adding to a 4-yard fumble return earlier in the game. It set Calhoun on track to be the Big Ten’s defensive lineman of the year and gave the Spartans the buffer they needed to get the offense in order.
11. Jeremy Langford’s touchdown run against Ohio State
Making a name for himself with fourth-quarter touchdown runs through many games late in the season. In three of MSU’s four final regular-season games, he had a run of at least 37 yards to cap the scoring and seal the game. The Big Ten title game provided no different and he became the first 100-yard rusher against Ohio State all season with the run with just 2:16 left in the game.
Langford provided the icing on the cake with a 26-yard run right up the middle to give Michigan State the 34-24 win. He was barely touched, breaking a tackle attempt from two Ohio State defenders as he ran straight ahead into the end zone to send Michigan State to Pasadena. A 26-yard to run to end a 26-year drought.