Geiger knew he had hit 'most important kick' ever

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Columbus, Ohio — Michael Geiger said he had ice in his veins on Saturday night, even though the emotion was starting to get to him.

It was more than an hour after the junior kicker gave No. 9 Michigan State a 17-14 victory over No. 2 Ohio State with a 41-yard field goal as time expired, and he was trying to describe what he had just accomplished.

A native of Toledo, Geiger had played out the same scenario in his head thousands of times growing up, kicking the ball over the swing set in his yard.

"That was the most important kick I've ever made in my entire life," Geiger said, admitting he was close to letting the emotion win as he talked to a throng of reporters. "I rehearsed that as a kid … ever since I could kick a ball. I would say, 'This is the kick to beat Ohio State. This is the kick to beat Ohio State.' Being from Toledo, Ohio, it means the world."

It earned Geiger the game ball and it also touched off a celebration Geiger said was spur of the moment.

As the winning kick sailed through the uprights, Geiger raced down the field, swinging his right arm in a circle with his left arm extended, his teammates chasing him.

"I play too much FIFA, a video game, and that is a common celebration," said Geiger, who joked he didn't want to get tackled and end up like teammate Jalen Watts-Jackson, the hero of the win over Michigan who broke his hip. "I was just trying to go the whole length of the field. I wasn't thinking."

For Michigan State's sake, Geiger was doing plenty of thinking in the final minute of the game. The Spartans were moving the ball into field-goal range, and Geiger waited on the sidelines.

It hasn't been a great year for Geiger, who entered the game 8-for-12, but he was waiting for the opportunity to kick with the game on the line.

"I don't think my confidence ever wavered," he said. "We knew the whole season this was gonna be a tight game. To be honest, I expected the whole season to have that opportunity. I thought I'd have that opportunity against Michigan, I thought I'd have it this game. Even in the Nebraska game late I thought I'd have one. It feels good to get one."

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio felt good about Geiger, even after a miss from 43 yards in the first half.

"I told him, 'Hey, you've got it,' " Dantonio said. "Take your time, kick it through, and he did. When I talked to him, he was extremely positive."

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer called a timeout just before the snap to try to ice Geiger. That first kick was good, too, and that was all Geiger needed.

"I saw it go through the first time and I figured they'd call a timeout," Geiger said. "To me that is an advantage and I embrace it.

"After I hit (the second kick) I knew it was going through. I watched it for a second as it flew through the air and it was straight. I don't even know if I saw it go through because by then I was gone. I was running."

Michigan State kicker Michael Geiger kicks the game-winning field goal as time expires.