For the second time this series, special teams get featured. Michigan State football’s all-time leader in points, Matt Coghlin, kicks in moment No. 34.
Welcome to day 17 of the 50 defining moments of the 2021 Michigan State football season.
Today marks us officially one-third of the way to the start of the 2022 season from when I started this series. One of the longest-tenured players on the team, Matt Coghlin, makes his debut on this list at No. 34.
No. 34: Matt Coghlin’s 49-yard field goal vs. Indiana
This was the second of Coghlin’s two field goals that day, with the first coming from 51 yards — 100 yards worth of field goals on the day.
Why No. 34?
This play came at a crucial time for Michigan State football, with the Spartans clinging to a two-point lead with half of a quarter remaining. The Spartan offense could not pick up traction against the Hoosiers, with Kenneth Walker III and Payton Thorne combining for under 250 total yards and the latter throwing two interceptions on the day. The entire team felt like they were in a rut, and a loss against a struggling Indiana team could have been devastating for MSU.
Coghlin had other plans, with two deep field goals being the key to victory. His eight points on the day (two field goals and extra points respectively) gave the Spartans just enough to squeak out a five-point victory.
Until his injury, Coghlin had been having a relatively productive year. He had returned to his freshman form from 2000, I mean, 2018.
For as much as Coghlin was either the hero or the victim of the green and white’s ire throughout his career, I will miss him. It is scary to not have a placekicker on the roster with more than a few attempts to their name for the 2022 season. The Spartans have been blessed with their last three full-time starting kickers (Dan Conroy, Michael Geiger, and Coghlin) each having at least three full seasons as a starter. Now, we face the unknown. In Jack Stone we trust.
In my opinion, the Indiana game is not brought up enough for crucial moments in the Spartans’ season. While everyone remembers the struggle of the Nebraska game, no one remembers the similar issues a few weeks later against Indiana. Thankfully, there was a bye week after this game to give time for the Spartans to prepare for the school down the road.
Statistically, this occurred the week after Coghlin became the record holder for points at Michigan State, further padding his lead. This was also one of his longest on the 2021 campaign. Because of his 51-yarder in the second quarter, this play also can be overlooked as at first glance, a 49-yard field goal does not jump out of the box score.
I chose this play over the 51-yard make earlier in the game because this play made Indiana need a touchdown, thwarting any small drive to get into field goal range. The Spartans have had their struggles letting up the drives that do just enough to doom them in the end, so I breathed a sigh of relief after this field goal went through the uprights.
However, this play cannot be rated any higher due to what happened after the field goal. Indiana’s longest drive after this play was 17 yards, and the play ended in a fumble that left the Spartans in the Hoosier redzone. Then, Thorne threw his second interception of the day as neither team felt like scoring after the field goal. This play might have affected the morale of the Hoosiers, which gives it a bit higher of a score in my book, but the incompetence of the Hoosiers’ comeback attempt makes this play fall a bit flat.
If you are wondering about tomorrow, there will be more K9 as we count down the days to the 2022 season.