Howland’s Bill Burke’s 400-yard passing day lifted Spartans over Tom Brady and Michigan


Countdown to college football features area athletes and games

Michigan State University Spartans, Quarterback Bill Burke

AP/Werner Slocum

EAST LANSING, Michigan (WKBN) – Nick Saban’s #11 ranked Michigan State Spartans held off Tom Brady and the #3 Michigan Wolverines 34-31 on October 9, 1999 to continue their undefeated start to the season at 6-0.

Howland’s Bill Burke threw for 400-yards, the most of any Spartan quarterback at the time, tossing a pair of third quarter touchdowns to help lift the Spartans past their rivals. Burke completed 10 passes to Plaxico Burress for 255 yards. Burress was drafted in the 1st round (8th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brady played in the first and fourth quarters at quarterback for the Wolverines, while Drew Henson played in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. The San Mateo, California product connected on 30 of 41 passes for 285 yards and 2 scores.

After the regular season, coach Saban was hired in November to take over the LSU program. Longtime assistant Bobby Williams replaced Saban as Sparty’s leader.

In 1999, the Spartans topped five Top-25 teams during the season, including #10-ranked Florida in the Citrus Bowl – 37-34. MSU concluded their campaign with a 10-2 mark, ranking #7 in the AP poll.

Bill Burke, Senior/QB
1999 – 2214 yards passing, 55.4%, 20 TDs

Michigan State’s 1999 Results
Spartans 37 Florida 34 (Citrus Bowl)
Spartans 35 Penn State 28
Spartans 40 Northwestern 0
Spartans 23 Ohio State 7
Wisconsin 40 Spartans 10
Purdue 52 Spartans 28
Spartans 34 Michigan 31
Spartans 49 Iowa 3
Spartans 27 Illinois 10
Spartans 23 Notre Dame 13
Spartans 51 Eastern Michigan 7
Spartans 27 Oregon 20

Countdown to College Football
August 14 – Top sports star in 1942 wins Heisman
August 15 – Before politics, Traficant started at QB for Pitt
August 16 – Roger Staubach meets Youngstown State
August 17 – “Best linebacker I ever coached” says Woody Hayes
August 18 – Sherman “Tank” runs wild for Miami of Ohio
August 19 – Sugar Bowl MVP aids Pitt in title game
August 20 – Lombardi award winner called New Castle home
August 21 – Walk-on Karlis kicks for Cincinnati
August 22 – K-State registers 1st bowl victory; Coleman named MVP
August 23 – Burke’s 400-yard game lifts Michigan State past Brady & Michigan
August 24 – Clarett shines for Buckeyes in memorable season
August 25 – Syracuse’s workhorse from Struthers
August 26 – Missouri’s dual-threat quarterback boosts Tigers to top Nebraska
August 27 – Penn State QB guides Nittany Lion faithful to Rose Bowl

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