2011 Michigan State Spartans Football
Michigan State Spartans @ Northwestern Wildcats Football Recap
Michigan State 31, Northwestern 17
The Michigan State Spartans won 11 regular-season games in 2010. If they manage to win the same amount of regular-season games this year, they will have done something no MSU team has done in 24 years.
Yes, the Spartans captured their tenth scalp of the season by beating the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) had already clinched a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game, and Northwestern (6-6, 3-5) was already bowl-eligible, making Saturday’s meeting relatively inconsequential. However, by winning this game, MSU did ensure that the winner of the Big Ten Conference in 2011 will have at least 11 wins and no more than two regular-season losses. This development slightly increases the conference’s stature, and it ensures that league commissioner Jim Delany will not have to deal with the embarrassment of a three-loss team making a BCS bowl in just over a month’s time. Michigan State and Wisconsin will bring identical 10-2 marks to Lucas Oil Stadium this upcoming Saturday.
The win, while certainly not necessary, will certainly add to the belief in the Michigan State locker room. The boys from East Lansing can now know that they’re a 10-win team as they try to return to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1987 season, when then-coach George Perles led the gang in green to a victory over USC. Current Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has now won at least 10 games in back-to-back seasons, and that’s the kind of accomplishment which can fuel Sparty as it tries to lock down the Big Ten title it split with Wisconsin last year. MSU beat the Badgers head to head in 2010, but Wisconsin, due to a complicated three-way tiebreaker that included Ohio State, got to go to Pasadena, California, to face TCU in the Granddaddy. Now, Michigan State will try to knock Wisconsin out of the Tournament of Roses and earn a shot at Oregon.
The Spartans flexed their muscles in this game against Northwestern, taking a 17-3 lead into halftime and holding off a late Wildcats comeback to run their win streak to four games.
Kirk Cousins threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns. Cousins broke Jeff Smoker’s school record by throwing his 62nd career touchdown pass. He is now 21-4 as Michigan State’s starting quarterback.
The Wildcats, who suffered through a five-game losing streak earlier this season, saw their win streak end at four.
Northwestern had a chance to take the lead late in the second quarter, but Treyvon Green fumbled inside the Michigan State five-yard line. The Spartans then marched down the field and took the lead on a seven-yard run by Le’Veon Bell. After a quick defensive stop, Michigan State took a 17-3 lead when Keshawn Martin returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown.
The Wildcats pulled back to within seven points twice in the second half, but the Spartans answered both times with touchdown passes from Cousins to B.J. Cunningham.
Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa completed 23 of 32 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns, both in the second half. Persa hit Jeremy Ebert on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line early in the third quarter, and hit Demetrius Fields for a 12-yard touchdown early in the fourth.
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