clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Absolutely everything on the 2015 Michigan State-Michigan ending: Highlights, fan reactions and more

One of the wildest plays in college football history!

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Michigan State v Michigan Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 2015 Michigan State-Michigan game had one of the greatest endings in college football history, and it hasn’t been forgotten in the two years since the miraculous finish.

Before 2017’s return by the Spartans to Ann Arbor, some players were asked about the game, and it’s still fresh in their minds.

“Honestly, when you’re in a situation like that, you don’t think you’re gonna win the game,” Spartans linebacker Chris Frey said Tuesday via the Detroit Free Press. “Guys were pretty upset because we had played pretty well the entire day. We didn’t play very well at a few points of the game, but statistically, I think we dominated them.”

“You just love the feeling of knowing that you went into a stadium that holds 110,000 people or whatever it is,” Frey added. “And you can hear the crickets because you silenced them.”

"Oh yeah, I was on the bench just laughing it up with (former Michigan offensive linemen Erik Magnuson and Kyle Kalis). We were just laughing about how great it was (to get a win)," Wolverine center Patrick Kugler said via the Detroit Free Press. "Then you freeze for a second and see (Watts-Jackson score) and you don't believe what you saw. But that's football; it happens. We're excited to play them this year."

Here's what happened.

No. 12 Michigan led 23-21 and just needed to punt the ball away to win. But the Wolverines mishandled the snap, and the No. 7 Spartans ran it back for a touchdown as time expired to win 27-23.

Michigan fans, who'd been so happy earlier, were stunned:

Michigan fan Rich Eisen of the NFL Network had a similar collapse on Twitter:

THIS IS SPARTA! Former Spartan Le'Veon Bell videoed himself running around like a maniac in celebration:

Mark Dantonio celebrated by asking Spartans fans at the Big House, "Where did all the Wolverines go!?"

Bad news. One fan literally had a heart attack.

The ending was so unlikely, the Spartans had already given the Paul Bunyan Trophy to Michigan. Yeah, they got it back.

MSU had just a 0.2 percent chance of winning, according to ESPN.

Here's another way to look at the swing of fortune:

The game was so over, a Grand Rapids TV station had already started its live report on Michigan's win:

Someone has some explaining to do.

Posted by Tom Clyde on Saturday, October 17, 2015

Ohio State paused its video board on a shot of sad Michigan fans, and OSU fans chanted, "We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan." And of course you can buy an OHIO shirt with one of those sad Michigan fans on it.

Was it the craziest ending ever? It's lacking one big thing: a band on the field.

How was the rest of the game? Well, it's the highest-rated October game ever on ESPN. Lee Corso picked the Wolverines with a Spaceballs-sized helmet, a Michigan linebacker with some MSU-hating history was ejected for a bad targeting call and took a pump-up lap around the Big House, a furious Michigan fan in a Patriots hat managed to flip off ESPN's camera, an MSU fullback thundered 74 yards on a glorious wheel route, and there was a thing flying over the crowd that was maybe an inflated condom.

So, pretty good.

Despite needing that play to win, Michigan State actually outgained Michigan and simply had the better quarterback. The advanced stats go further, projecting the Spartans to have won that game by 17 points, based on how the game's numbers would've shaken out in an average game. UM's only major advantage in the game was on special teams, which is pretty ironic ...

... that's all despite Michigan's top defender winning the game's marquee matchup and the Wolverines offense being good enough for three quarters.

Bittersweet ending. The hero on the play, Watts-Jackson, broke and dislocated his hip on the tackle in the end zone and had surgery. He has no regrets, saying, "I'd do it all over again for my brothers."

Here's a heartbreaking look at the celebration turning somber:

A few idiots on Twitter sent mean messages to the punter, and Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett wrote an open letter scolding them. Those people are both awful and very stupid, and the punter, Blake O'Neill, had this beautiful, 80-yard punt earlier in the game.

O'Neill remains upbeat: "I tried to sort of kick it over my head, and that didn't work out. ... Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go again. That's the beauty of sport. We get another chance against Minnesota to come out and prove we're improving."

Former Michigan punter Zoltan Mesko broke down the play to defend O'Neill.

And yeah, that was a bad mistake, but Spencer Hall explains how it could've been way worse: He could've gotten so drunk he damaged the global economy. Somebody did that!

Barack Obama offered Jim Harbaugh some encouragement as well:

Obama told Harbaugh it 'was a tough way to lose a football game,' the coach said. The pair also talked about mutual friends. '(Obama) told the fellas to keep their chin up and him and Michelle were watching the game and likes the way our team played and told our guys to keep it going.'

And any Michigan fans disappointed in Harbaugh can rally now that Brady Hoke said he would've ... gone for it?

It's good that it hurts. Bill Connelly writes that the pain is a sign of progress. Looking past the heartbreak, Maize N Brew was encouraged by the game.

That single play changed our Big Ten power rankings and our Rose Bowl projection, but the Wolverines' season resume ranks No. 2 in S&P+ anyway.

Always making it interesting. Michigan State has had a lot of thrilling finishes recently. The Only Colors takes a look at all of them.

A Michigan State fan made a bad rap song about the win, as one does.

It took magic this time, but Michigan State is now on a 7-2 run against its once self-described "Big Brother."

Hate check! Well, MSU's Magic Johnson statue got vandalized before this game, so hate might be at unmeasurable levels now.

The Gift Six? Now the play needs a nickname. Help us pick one! The voting leader is Fail to the Victors, but our Michigan State blog has endorsed The Quick Six.

Dantonio has his own name: "Rangers: Mission 4:10." "Rangers," for the name of MSU's special teams unit, and "Mission 4:10," for ... he'll explain:

We were saying all week that mental is to physical as four is to one; that you had to be four times mentally tougher than you were physically tough. And inevitably, it was going to come down to a mental game. They were going to make some plays. We were going have to handle adversity, we were going to have to handle the crowd, weather a storm or be the storm, one of the two. We were going to have to be able to do that. So that was where the 4-1 came in.

The 10 seconds obviously comes in at the back end, with the last 10 seconds of the game. But it also comes in on the front end because we sat on that bus for 10 extra seconds because I wanted to make sure our players understood the size of this game, the bigness of this particular game, the impact it will have not only on them at that point in time but on their entire lives. And so that's where the 4-10 comes in.

Images via ESPN and Getty