Fans will say it was the large number of penalties called against the Spartans in the second half of this intensely close and painful-to-watch game. After an incomplete pass from Andrew Maxwell to Dion Sims at the end of the fourth with a minute fifteen to go, Northwestern’s quarterback takes the knee to finish the game.
As thirteen Spartans bid farewell to Michigan State football, the Spartans bid farewell to a bowl bid. The game started out rough for Sparty and his fans. The Wildcats scored early on in the first quarter, taking on a 3-0 lead by taking advantage of a field goal opportunity. Spartans scored 2 points with a safety when William Gholston sacks Colter for a safety. Though the Spartans were in the scoring zone, they failed to make good on this in the first quarter.
The second quarter wasn’t a whole lot better for the Spartans. Michigan State took the lead briefly in the beginning of the second quarter when Dan Conroy scored a field goal for a 3-5 lead. The lead didn’t last long, however. The Wildcats clawed their way back to a lead, scoring a field goal and bringing the score to 6-5. After a failed attempt at a second field goal by Conroy in the final seconds of the second quarter, the Spartans went into halftime down 6-5.
When Northwestern and Michigan State returned from halftime, the game started to get intense. The Wildcats scored a touchdown after a long run into the end zone, bringing the team up 13-5. The Spartans answered with a beautiful catch by freshman Aaron Burbridge and a two-point conversion to tie up the game 13-13.
The Spartans’ victory was short-lived, however, when the team began racking up penalties, giving the Northwestern Wildcats a significant advantage. Between penalties and incomplete passes from Andrew Maxwell, the team had a difficult time getting back on top. Northwestern took the lead at 20-13 after a face-mask call. Maxwell’s pass to Burbridge was intercepted by Jared Carpenter, and the Wildcats took control of the ball to end the third quarter.
The game was also riddled with injuries. In the first quarter, it appeared that La’Veon Bell, a Junior semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, was injured and out of the game. He made a return in the second quarter. Bell wasn’t the only player injured in this physical game on MSU’s Senior Day. MSU’s Doug Curtis was injured at the onset of the game, and more Northwestern players were out – Venric and Drummond later in the game.
Even though MSU entered the fourth quarter with stellar stats – 18 first downs to Northwestern’s 12; 325 total yards to Northwestern’s 210, they were trailed the Wildcats. Sophomore Tony Lippett caught the ball at six yards out and scored. Finally, things looked up for the Spartans, as they tied up the game 20-20. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t keep their opponents out of the end zone area. It wasn’t long before the Wildcats scored their third field goal of the day, bringing the score to the winning 23-20. In the last minute thirty of the game, an incomplete pass from Maxwell to Sims gave the game over to Northwestern.
The beloved Michigan State Spartans will play against the Minnesota Gophers on Saturday November 24th at 3:30 PM. The game can be viewed on the Big Ten Network, tracked on Gametracker, and listened to on the Spartan Sports Network. I’ve got my fingers crossed that they’ll pull through in this final game of the season. What do you think? Will they win it?