EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – The description of The Play by the ESPN announcer is unforgettable.
“Oh, he has trouble with the snap! And the ball is free! It’s picked up by Michigan State’s Jalen Watts Jackson! And he scores! On the last play of the game! Unbelieveable!”.
Unbelievable barely does it justice.
The finish between Michigan State and Michigan last year will go down as one of the most unlikely in college football history.
Long-time radio announcers George Blaha and Jim Brandstatter were both on the call that day, and remember it from two different perspectives, as one might expect.
It all came down to that one play, and the Spartans were rushing more people than Michigan was going to be able to block so if that kid was going to have any problem with that snap, there could be a chance for a fantastic finish for the green and white and it turned out it was,” recalled Spartan announced Blaha. “It was almost mind-boggling how fast it happened and what they were able to do.”
“It’s one of those things that happens, you learn something new every year, every game something new happens, and that’s what I learned,” said Michigan announcer Brandstatter. “When the coach says you gotta play for 60 minutes, he’s not lying, that the last seconds can ultimately cost you and again, not concentrating, not focusing, making that one critical mistake at the one critical time it went all wrong for Michigan, it went all right for Michigan State.”
Under Mark Dantonio, the Spartans are no strangers to making incredible plays in the final moments of a game, just take it from one former Spartan who created a “WOW” moment of his own in 2011 against Wisconsin and was on the sideline last year in Ann Arbor.
“To watch that happen, those guys in that moment and the Wisconsin game for me, I now got to feel the excitement that everyone else had during that Wisconsin moment that “Hail Mary” moment,” recalls former Spartan wide receiver Keith Nichol. “To see them guys accomplish the same thing against Michigan, of course to beat your rival in their stadium, you kind of feel, they knew that was their moment.”
While this play will stand out for years to come, according to the experts, it’s just another chapter in the long history between the two schools.
Blaha adds, “This rivalry probably didn’t change because of what happened in that game, this is a heated rivalry, it means everything to almost every person in this state.”
“This is the game for the state,” says Brandstatter.
Blaha is more specific when he says “I mean this is for bragging rights.”
Brandstatter sums the rivalry up as “Between two of the great universities in America who have a deep-seeded dislike for each other on one Saturday every fall.”
This Saturday, last year’s game will be in the rear view mirror as both teams take the field, but one thing is for certain.
“Nobody is gonna forget the name Jalen Watts-Jackson,” says Blaha.