It was truly a night to remember for Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook and his fellow Spartans.
On Saturday night, No. 10 MSU finished strong and scored the final 17 points of the game to take down No. 2 Ohio State for the Big Ten championship and a chance to play for the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California for the first time in 26 years.
The Spartans bolted out of the gate and quickly amassed a 17-0 lead on the second-ranked team in the country in the Buckeyes. They had all of the momentum and it looked as if things might just be smooth sailing for head coach Mark Dantonio and his crew.
But Ohio State, under the wily leadership of coach Urban Meyer and the extremely mobile quarterback Braxton Miller, weren't ready to go down without a fight. Just before halftime, Miller broke free for a couple confidence-building runs and earned the Buckeyes 10 points, bringing the score to 17-10 at halftime.
Ohio State continued their assault after the half with a quick touchdown tying the game and eventually took their first lead late in the third quarter. But Cook,who was determined to quiet the naysayers who dogged the Spartans' offense all year, responded with a lead-securing touchdown with just over 11 minutes left in the game.
"I think we heard people talk bad about us all year. This wasn't the first week where we heard people say negative things about us as an offense or as a football team, Cook said after tossing a 9-yard TD pass to give the Spartans a 27-24 lead late in the game. "I think we were underdogs in the majority of the games we played this year. It really didn't affect us."
Cook, who wasn't even the chosen starter at the beginning of this season, proved to Dantonio and the MSU fan base that he was the right man for the job after he remained calm, cool, and collected. The quarterback was 24-for-40 and threw for a career-high 304 yards with three touchdowns.
Star running back Jeremy Langford sealed the game in the final minutes with a breakout 26-yard touchdown run that gave the Spartans a final score of 34-24 and would dash the Buckeyes hopes of playing for a spot in the BCS national title game; something that Meyer said would likely sting for him and his Buckeyes for many days to come.
"You know it's going to haunt all of us, I imagine, for a little while," Meyer said. "But that's part of the game."
Paradoxically, Dantonio told reporters that he and his team were going to bask in their glory until the Rose Bowl comes along on Jan. 1 against Sandford.
"We're going to live this one for a while, live it for a month," coach Mark Dantonio said. "But it's important that we finish what we started and that will end with a bowl game."
And while it will be all roses for the Spartans headed to Pasadena, Dantonio couldn't help but think that perhaps it was his team that perhaps deserved to be playing in the BCS national title game.
"I can tell you this, we beat the No. 2 team," Dantonio said. "We're 12-1 so why not us? Why not us? I'll vote us No. 2."
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.