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2006 Michigan State Spartans football team

Conference Big Ten Conference
2006 record 4–8 (1–7 Big Ten)
Head coach John L. Smith
Home stadium Spartan Stadium (c. 75,005 natural grass)

The 2006 Michigan State Spartans football team represented Michigan State University in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football during the 2006 season. Michigan State competed as a member of the Big Ten Conference, and played their home games at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. The Spartans were led by fourth-year head coach John L. Smith. Smith had compiled a combined 18–18 record in his previous seasons at Michigan State,[1] and he was fired after the 2006 season in which the team finished 4–8.[2] The Spartans did, however, set the record for the greatest comeback from a deficit in college football history.[3]

Season recap

Michigan State teams during Smith's tenure were "known for their late season collapses".[2] The Spartans started the 2006 season with a 3–0 record with victories over Idaho, Eastern Michigan, and Pittsburgh. The following week, Michigan State led Notre Dame, 37–21, in the third quarter, but surrendered 19 points to lose the game.[2] The Spartans then lost all but one game on the remainder of their schedule.[4]

On October 21, Michigan State traveled to Evanston, Illinois to face Northwestern. By the third quarter, Northwestern had extended its lead to a commanding 38–3.[3] Michigan State gained momentum in the fourth quarter when Devin Thomas blocked a Northwestern punt, which was then returned for a touchdown by Ashton Henderson. Northwestern was forced to punt twice more and Michigan State capitalized on each possession with a touchdown, which tied the game, 38–38.[3] Placekicker Brett Swenson made good the game-winning field goal with 0:13 remaining to play, and Michigan State won the greatest comeback in college football history.[3]

After the record-setting victory, it appeared that Smith's job was temporarily secured,[3] but the administration fired him shortly after a loss to Indiana the following week.[5] The Spartans ended the season with four consecutive losses to finish with a 4–8 overall record and 1–7 against Big Ten opponents.[4] In November, Mark Dantonio was hired as the replacement head coach.[6]


Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result Attendance
September 2 12:00 PM Idaho* Spartan StadiumEast Lansing, MI ESPN+ W 27–17   70,711
September 9 3:30 PM Eastern Michigan* Spartan Stadium • East Lansing, MI ESPN+ W 52–20   69,856
September 16 12:00 PM at Pittsburgh* Heinz FieldPittsburgh, PA ABC W 38–23   47,956
September 23 8:00 PM #12 Notre Dame* Spartan Stadium • East Lansing, MI (Megaphone Trophy) ABC L 40–37   80,193
September 30 12:00 PM Illinois Spartan Stadium • East Lansing, MI ESPN+ L 23–20   71,268
October 7 4:30 PM at #6 Michigan Michigan StadiumAnn Arbor, MI (Paul Bunyan Trophy) ESPN L 31–13   111,349
October 14 3:30 PM #1 Ohio State Spartan Stadium • East Lansing, MI ABC L 38–7   73,498
October 21 12:00 PM at Northwestern Ryan FieldEvanston, IL (Greatest comeback in college football history) ESPN+ W 41–38   29,387
October 28 12:00 PM at Indiana Memorial StadiumBloomington, IN (Old Brass Spittoon) ESPN+ L 46–21   36,444
November 4 3:30 PM Purdue Spartan Stadium • East Lansing, MI ESPNU L 17–15   65,398
November 11 12:00 PM Minnesota Spartan Stadium • East Lansing, MI ESPNU L 31–18   64,807
November 18 12:00 PM at Penn State Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA (Land Grant Trophy) ESPN2 L 17–13   108,607
*Non-conference game. Homecoming. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.

2007 NFL Draft

The following players were selected in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Player Round Pick Position NFL Team
Drew Stanton 2 43 Quarterback Detroit Lions
Clifton Ryan 5 154 Defensive Tackle St. Louis Rams
Brandon Fields 7 225 Punter Miami Dolphins


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