No. 8 Northwestern Upset by Unranked Michigan State 29-20 in Big Ten Action

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorNovember 29, 2020

Michigan State quarterback Rocky Lombardi plays during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Indiana, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

The unranked Michigan State Spartans jumped out to a 17-0 lead and held on for a 29-20 win en route to stunning the undefeated No. 8 Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday at Spartan Stadium.

MSU quarterback Rocky Lombardi threw for 167 yards and two touchdowns, running back Connor Heyward added 105 total yards and wide receiver Jalen Nailor had 99 receiving yards and a touchdown for the Spartans. On defense, MSU forced four Wildcats turnovers and held Northwestern to 285 yards.

MSU made an early statement when Lombardi found Nailor for a 75-yard touchdown:

The Spartans added a field goal in the first quarter before Lombardi took to the air again for another touchdown, this time for 15 yards to Jayden Reed.

Undeterred, the Wildcats scored 20 straight points thanks to a pair of field goals, a Peyton Ramsey one-yard TD run and a go-ahead score from Cam Porter on a three-yard rush. Ramsey faked out the Spartan D for his score.

However, the Wildcats committed two costly turnovers in the fourth quarter: MSU's Jack Camper recovered a fumble, and Spartan cornerback Shakur Brown picked off a pass.

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Granted a short field both times, MSU worked its way into field-goal territory, where Matt Coghlin nailed kicks from 44 and 48 yards to give the Spartans a 23-20 lead with 3:35 left.

The MSU defense immediately forced a three-and-out, causing Northwestern to punt with 2:57 left. MSU gained one first down and was able to run the clock down to about a half-minute despite Northwestern using all three of its timeouts.

Northwestern got the ball back with 25 seconds left on its own 19-yard line, but disaster struck when an attempted lateral got loose and was picked up by Kalon Gervin for a game-closing touchdown.

MSU improved to 2-3, and Northwestern fell to 5-1.