7. 16-yard TD catch to put game out of reach vs. Illinois (2022)
Following the lackluster middle portion of the season, most pundits and Spartan fans had written Michigan State off in the race for bowl eligibility heading into their matchup against a 7-1 Illinois team. With five losses on the year, and a ranked Illinois and Penn State teams remaining, with both on the road, things looked dire for the Spartans.
For Reed, personally, he had his work cut out for this game. Devon Witherspoon, Quan Martin, and Sydney Brown were standouts for the Illini secondary last year. Witherspoon, in particular, will likely hear his name called within the first 10 picks on Thursday’s first round of the NFL Draft (ahem, Brad Holmes, again).
The Spartans, however, had different plans. They came out firing, with our defense suffocating the Illini offense outside of their first touchdown. For a few drives in the third quarter, the offense figured things out. This was highlighted when Payton Thorne and Jayden Reed connected for a 17-yard touchdown pass, as he made a beautiful throw while getting slammed to the ground. Reed did his part as well, burning both his man and the safety and hauling the ball in, and getting his feet down for the touchdown.
The Spartans took a two-possession lead with this play and would win by eight. Ultimately, as we all know, the Spartans did not achieve bowl eligibility due to a catastrophe of errors against Indiana a few weeks later. As a result, this showing by Reed (five catches, 68 yards, one touchdown) gets overlooked.
For a brief moment, Reed was one of the players that gave us a reason to hope last year.