Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker has had quite the start to his tenure in East Lansing. Hired in February of 2020, Tucker was a rather late arrival as the Spartans coach and then saw his first season severely altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. One year later, he has the Spartans at 8-0 and dreaming of a return to the College Football Playoff.

Last Saturday, with a 37-33 come-from-behind win over Michigan, Tucker became the first coach in program history to win his first two games against the in-state rivals.

In doing so, Tucker has also made a bit of conference history.

The head ball coach is the first Big Ten coach since Jim Harbaugh in 2016 to open his second full season 8-0, and only the fifth Big Ten coach to do so since 1953.

Harbaugh’s 2016 Wolverine team started 8-0 but finished at 10-3 thanks to losses at Ohio State to close the regular season and to Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Urban Meyer’s 2013 Buckeye squad started 8-0 but finished 11-2 after back-to-back losses to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game and Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

Jim Tressel also did it in 2002 with the Buckeyes. His squad fulfilled the dream, though, finishing 14-0 and winning a national title with a 31-24 win over Miami at the Fiesta Bowl.

Michigan coach Bo Schembechler started 8-0 in 1970 but lost to Ohio State in his team’s final game of the year to finish 9-1.

Tucker and his Spartans are hoping for a magical finish. Led by Heisman Trophy contending running back Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State is up to No. 5 in the AP Poll and hoping to stay in contention for a Playoff spot. It’ll have to earn one, though. A road matchup with Ohio State and a home tilt with Penn State close out the year for the Spartans.

They take on Purdue Saturday in West Lafayette. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.