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1993 Penn State-Michigan State Matchup Served As Turning Point Of Series

No. 8 Penn State will welcome the Michigan State Spartans to Beaver Stadium at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. This weekend’s game will be the latest installment of a matchup that’s been held 22 times since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten in the early 1990s.

The Spartans lead the all-time series between the two squads 16-15-1, including a spell of dominance in the late ’40s and early ’50s. Penn State beat the Spartans in 1925, but didn’t win again against Michigan State for nearly seven decades.

Michigan State went 7-0-1 against the Nittany Lions from 1945 to 1966. The teams played four home-and-home series during that time, but didn’t meet at all from 1953 to 1965. Penn State managed a 14-14 tie in Happy Valley in 1948 before the Spartans went on a five-game win streak against the Nittany Lions.

Penn State became the 11th member of the oldest conference in college sports in 1990. The Nittany Lions’ arrival in the Big Ten pitted them against Michigan State, and the two teams faced off in 1993 for the first time in nearly 30 years.

No. 14 Penn State traveled to East Lansing to take on the 25th-ranked Spartans that year. Consecutive losses to Michigan and Ohio State had already derailed the Nittany Lions’ conference and national title aspirations, but Joe Paterno’s squad still had a chance to finish the regular season on a high note with a victory.

Michigan State took a 23-17 lead into halftime, and began the third quarter by scoring 14 unanswered points. Things looked bleak for the Nittany Lions.

However, quarterback Kerry Collins led a furious second-half comeback and helped Penn State’s offense score three touchdowns in four minutes to take a one-point lead. Two of those touchdowns were passes of 40 and 52 yards to Bobby Engram, and Brian O’Neal also punched in a one-yard score after the defense recovered a Spartan fumble. Michigan State failed to answer the Nittany Lions’ late charge, and Penn State sealed the victory with a final score of 38-37. 

Penn State’s victory didn’t just signal the end of a decades-long losing streak against the Spartans. It was the fourth victory in the team’s 21-game winning streak from 1993 to 1995, which included its unbeaten 1994 season with Collins and Ki-Jana Carter running the offense.

Additionally, the Nittany Lions claimed the Land Grant Trophy for the first time in series history. Former Michigan State defensive line coach George Perles designed the obnoxiously big trophy, which recognizes the two oldest land-grant universities in the United States.

Penn State is 14-8 against Michigan State since the Land Grant Trophy’s creation, but the Spartans currently hold the title thanks to a game-winning field goal at the buzzer that upended James Franklin’s team in 2017.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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