The Michigan State Spartans were able to get their first New Year’s Six Bowl game victory since 2015, rallying late against the Pittsburgh Panthers on Thursday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with a 31-21 victory.
Jayden Reed’s touchdown reception with under three minutes remaining would give Michigan State the lead, and the win would soon be sealed by Cal Haladay’s pick-six shortly after.
For Spartans head coach Mel Tucker, who was rewarded for his efforts with a massive contract extension earlier this season, the team is just getting started after what he described as having “laid the foundation” for future success.
“We really have laid the foundation for how we need to play football here,” he said. “And our culture has really shifted, and we’re cementing it and we’re building upon it every single day. And the brand of football we play here at Michigan State is very important. And everyone should be able to look on that field and when they see us play and say, ‘Those guys play hard. Those guys are tough, they’re physical, they won’t quit. They don’t flinch.'”
“Going into the fourth quarter it was just play one play at a time and try to put a good drive together,” Thorne said. “And our guys made great plays, great catches all around, and the offensive line played well picking up all the blitzes.”
After finishing last year 2-5, Tucker and the Spartans would start this season on fire with an 8-0 start, including a comeback victory over their in-state rivals from Ann Arbor. The Spartans saw fit to reward Tucker with a lengthy extension, and Tucker is already looking ahead for bigger and better things for his program.
“Our fans deserve a winning football team,” Tucker said. “Our fans deserve a championship football team. Our fans deserve to see a brand of football that they can be proud of. And that’s what we’re here to do. It means something to us to make our fans proud. And that’s something that we talk about all the time and we’re going to continue to do that. We’re going to do it as a team, our team on the field and our fans together, and we’re going to accomplish some great things here.”
– – Quotes via ESPN Link – –