Michigan State beats Wisconsin in OT, 16-13
MADISON After grinding up Purdue and Minnesota, there was nothing left of Wisconsin's running game.
The Badgers managed a measly 19 yards rushing. Yes, that's right. The team that ran for more than 800 yards in its previous two games struggled to get into double digits in a 16-13 overtime loss to Michigan State on Saturday night. Andrew Maxwell completed nine of his last 11 passes, including a 12-yard touchdown to Bennie Fowler in overtime as the Spartans snapped a two-game losing streak.
"We were never able to get anything going on the ground," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "Anytime that happens for us, offensively it's never going to be a good day."
The loss was the first for Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) at Camp Randall since Oct. 17, 2009, and ended the country's second-longest home winning streak at 21 games. It also was the Badgers' first loss to the Spartans in Madison since 2001.
Michigan State (5-4, 2-3) has now won four of the last six meetings against the Badgers.
"Wisconsin's not a Michigan rivalry, it's not a Notre Dame rivalry," Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough said. "But it's a rivalry because of how important the games have been, and how close they've been. So you build that mutual respect for them."
Wisconsin has a long, proud history of a punishing run game, and it's rarely been more impressive than it was the previous two games. Montee Ball and James White ran all over the Boilermakers and Gophers, combining for 712 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. There are running backs who don't put up those numbers in full seasons, let alone in a pair of games.
Ball came into the game leading the country in touchdowns (74), rushing touchdowns (68) and rushing yards (4,292), and needs just five more TDs to break the NCAA career record.
But he and White never got out of neutral against the Spartans. Ball gained 46 yards on 22 carries while White managed only 16 yards.
"It was very tough because after a seven, eight-yard run, I feel like the momentum was on our side. The next play would be a loss," Ball said. "They are a good defense, but we weren't executing."
Take the decisive fourth-quarter drive that allowed Michigan State to stay in the game.
Marcus Cromartie forced a fumble and the Badgers recovered at the Michigan State 18. But a holding penalty wiped out a 7-yard gain by White on the first play, and a false start pushed them back to the Michigan State 19. Ball then failed to gain on one carry and lost two yards on the next, forcing the Badgers to settle for Kyle French's 39-yard field goal.
Maxwell responded with his — and Michigan State's — best drive of the day, capping an 8-of-9 performance with a 5-yard pass to Le'Veon Bell, who bulldozed his way into the end zone to tie the game at 10 with a minute left.
"I think the defining moment, in terms of the overall picture of the game ... when we fumbled the football and they get it at the 18 or whatever it is and we hold them to three," Dantonio said. "That's big."
Michigan State won the toss in overtime and deferred. French kicked a 43-yard field goal after Isaiah Lewis broke up Danny O'Brien's pass to Jacob Pedersen on third-and-long. The Spartans kept it simple, handing the ball off to their workhorse Bell before Maxwell found Fowler in the end zone.
The Spartans flooded onto the field while the Badgers and their fans watched in stunned silence.
"It comes down to us playing better in the first quarter to get the trust that we can run the ball and do better things," Wisconsin center Travis Frederick said. "It took too much time to get adjusted. We need to play better in the first and second quarters."
Losing Joel Stave didn't help, either. Stave injured his left shoulder when he was sacked on the opening play of the second half and did not return. He finished 9-of-11 for 127 yards.
Danny O'Brien, who had thrown all of four passes since losing his starting job to Stave after the third game, was 5-of-11 for 44 yards. He was sacked three times.
"We had plenty of opportunities to win that game," White said. "We just didn't finish it out."