Michigan State: Winners and Losers in the Spartans' Wild Win Against Wisconsin
Michigan State Spartans did it again. They won another game against a ranked undefeated Big Ten team. For Spartan fans, this is the biggest win of their season so far. The East Lansing stadium was the loudest it's been this season.
There were a lot of winners in this exciting game. While Michigan State pulled off a close win, this was the game that the mighty Spartans deserved. Everyone stepped up that night for MSU: the offense, the defense and the special teams.
What did these amazing winners pull off? And who were the losers in this game?
Winner: Spartans Special Teams
The Spartan Stadium erupted in cheers and screams for what the special teams had done.
Darqueze Dennard, a cornerback, blocked a field goal by Wisconsin in a 30-yard field goal attempt. The Spartans used this opportunity to score a TD on an 80-yard drive.
At the end of the second quarter, with 37 seconds left, Kyler Elsworth blocked a punt by Wisconsin, and as the ball bounced into the end-zone, a pile of Spartans jumped onto it for recovery. The touchdown was credited to Bennie Fowler.
The special teams truly changed things around for Michigan State in the second quarter, thanks to their impressive plays.
Loser: Wisconsin Defense
In six games, the Wisconsin defense had only allowed three passing touchdowns. Michigan State scored three passing touchdowns in Saturday night's game. The Spartans racked up 290 passing yards, the most the Wisconsin defense had allowed in a game all season. Kirk Cousins completed 71.0 percent of his passes, which is the most ever allowed by Wisconsin defense.
While they did well in limiting Michigan State's rushing yards, they failed in stopping the passing game.
Winner: Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins played one of his best games against the Big Ten this season. He completed 22-of-31 passes. He threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns, the most touchdowns he has thrown in a game so far this season. Also, he did not throw an interception in the game.
The best touchdown pass he threw was the Hail Mary thrown in the final play of the game.
Winner/Loser: Wisconsin Offense
Russell Wilson did a good job leading his team back from a two-touchdown deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter. While he did throw two interceptions, the Spartans did not capitalize on anything from it, though one of the interceptions hurt their chances of tying the game earlier.
Montee Ball scored one touchdown and ran for 115 yards. He was the top rusher in the Wisconsin-Michigan State game.
Wisconsin's powerful offensive line dominated the first quarter, but they couldn't get anything going until the fourth quarter. This is the lowest scoring game that Wisconsin has had this season.
Though it's hard to put a label on the Wisconsin offense, they were a loser in not finding a way through Michigan State defense and being scoreless in two straight quarters.
Winner: Spartans Offense
The catch by Keith Nichols at the end of the game was a jaw-dropping and explosive one. Let's cover that in a moment. The offense performed their part well.
While Le'Veon Bell did fumble on the 25-yard line and they struggled in the first quarter against Wisconsin's defense, they truly stepped up in the second quarter and half of the game. Keshawn Martin scored a 34-yard rushing touchdown on a double-reverse play. This was a scoring drive that was created off of a safety. Martin also scored another TD on a 15-yard pass from Cousins.
B.J Cunningham scored a touchdown in the second quarter on a 35-yard pass on a 4th-and-two. He caught a pass from Cousins in the fourth quarter for a two-point conversion that gave Michigan State a two touchdown lead.
Then, with four seconds left, Michigan State and Wisconsin appeared to be heading into overtime. Kirk Cousins made a scramble to the right and threw a desperate heave into the end-zone as time expired. The ball bounced off Cunningham's face mask and into the hands of Keith Nichols.
It was the former quarterback's first touchdown catch of the season and the most memorable one of his career.
On a side note: Another amazing winner of the game was the fact that Michigan State did not commit a single penalty.
Winner: Hail Mary
Watching this Hail Mary pass does not get tiring. Watch it again.