MSU's Road to the Rose Bowl - WNEM TV 5

MSU's Road to the Rose Bowl

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Keller with Sparty. Keller with Sparty.

You can officially call it an epic year for Michigan State University and its Spartans football team.

As a Michigan State University alumnus and a diehard Spartan football fan, I'll be the first to admit I didn't see this coming.  The team, with questions about its offense, got out of the gate slow and a loss to Notre Dame in what could have been considered the beginning of the end of the team's season.

It hardly was.

Michigan State turned the loss into a win, and a win, and many more wins.  I watched them in Indianapolis stun the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship.  I was on the field as the Spartans overcame all odds and beat the Stanford Cardinal in the Rose Bowl by the score of 24-20.  Overall, this team won 13 games and lost one, a school record, and a Spartan alumni dream come true.

By far, the game at the Rose Bowl was the most epic event I've ever witnessed.  Maybe it was because the Spartans were back for the first time in 26 years.  But more likely it was because of the transformation I've witnessed.  Mark Dantonio has raised the bar for Spartan football, putting the program in the top tier of college football.

As you may know, TV5 sent me out to cover the Rose Bowl for this area.  Truly, a dream come true.  My trip to Pasadena was anything but stellar.  I was supposed to fly out of Cleveland on the Monday before, only to watch the flight go from on-time to canceled.  I watched the board change live.  After six hours of listening to travel agents and airline employees telling me I wouldn't get out there, one great lady told me if I drive to Pittsburgh, I can catch a flight to Nashville, then to San Diego, and rent a car to drive to Los Angeles.  I was exhausted, but I did, as I didn't want to miss this.

I landed in San Diego and made the daunting trip north to Los Angeles, made much easier because this was the first time I have even been in California.  I arrived at the hotel, got checked in, and turned a story for Tuesday night.  I easily found people from Mid-Michigan who made the trip.  I don't remember falling asleep New Years Eve because I was so exhausted.

On New Years Day, game day, I got a call from Sports Director Scot Johnson at 4:30 a.m.  It was an early morning because we had to cover the Rose Parade.  Man, was that special.  Some of the most amazing work I've ever seen in person was passing in the parade I've seen so many times on TV.  I don't like using the word unbelievable, but it was.

I met people from Corunna, Caro, Grand Blanc, and Davison.  They all paid the price to be at the game.  I turned a few stories for 5 and 6 News and then it was game time.  In fact, a couple people I spoke to from Holt made the 36 hour drive in a van because they couldn't afford the flight.  There have been few times I have ever had the feeling I had when I walked into the Rose Bowl.  The tradition, the history, the ghosts of the football past hit me and I honestly felt emotional.  I sat for the first three and a half quarters in the press box, and then at the end of the game, I moved to the field.

I was there on that fourth down play when Kyler Elsworth stepped up.  I was there when the team made a below-average attempt to Gatorade shower Coach Dantonio, and I was in the mix as the team celebrated and the clock ticked to 0:00.

I wish I could put the feeling I had into words when I was at this moment.  I can't.  I had to keep my head straight because I was working, but just an absolutely surreal feeling came over me.  This was it, the Spartans had done it, Michigan State University won the 100th Rose Bowl game.

Maybe my emotions were caught on camera as I reported from the field.  Maybe I showed my true colors.  But I'd love to see anyone, anywhere, with a Michigan State University degree, keep it in at that particular moment.

THIS WAS IT!!!!

I've said it before, I'll say it again, this will be a memory I never forget.  A moment that is burned into my brain forever.  I am proud I was there to cover the game for TV5, thankful for my bosses choosing me to go.

I said it in one of my live shots.  The win against Stanford was a statement win for Michigan State.  Fans got to witness something special.  The players performed like they belonged on the national stage.

In this story, I've attached my reports.  I hope for those who couldn't make it, they felt like they were there.

Andrew Keller

MSU '08

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