Michigan State hands No. 8 Northwestern its first defeat
Michigan State upset No. 8 Northwestern 29-20 at home on Saturday to all but eliminate the Wildcats’ outside chances of making the College Football Playoff.
Northwestern (5-1) came back from a 17-point second-quarter deficit for the second time this season, scoring 20 unanswered points to take the lead early in the fourth quarter.
But the Spartans (2-3) scored the last 12 points of the game, getting a pair of field goals from Matt Coghlin in the final 10:11 before recovering a fumble in the end zone as time expired.
Northwestern started strong, forcing a 3-and-out and then easily driving inside the Michigan State 20-yard line. But, on 4th-and-1 from the 18, the Spartans stopped Isaiah Bowser behind the line of scrimmage to force a turnover on downs.
Less than a minute later, Rocky Lombardi found Jalen Nailor on a pass down the far sideline for a 75-yard touchdown to go up 7-0.
The Wildcats faced another fourth down on their next possession, with Michigan State’s Shakur Brown intercepting quarterback Peyton Ramsey and returning it 54 yards to the Northwestern 11. The Wildcats’ defense held and forced a chip-shot field goal from Coghlin.
The Spartans extended their lead to 17-0 on the first play of the second quarter when Lombardi found Jayden Reed in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard TD pass.
Northwestern started its rally by driving inside the Michigan State 25-yard line on two straight possessions. The Wildcats’ Charlie Kuhbander made a pair of field goals to cut the deficit to 17-6 at the half.
Ramsey and the Wildcats came out of the break looking like a totally different team. Over four minutes and 10 plays, Northwestern drove down the field and scored when Ramsey ran into the end zone from 1 yard away.
The Wildcats went ahead for the first time 1:06 into the fourth quarter, when true freshman running back Cam Porter took a direct snap and ran it in from 3 yards out for a 20-17 advantage.
After a Northwestern fumble, Matt Coghlin kicked a 44-yard field to tie the game at 20. Coghlin hit another field goal with 3:35 left to go up 23-20.
Deep in their own territory with five seconds remaining in the game, Northwestern tried to lateral their way down the field but the sequence of back passes left the ball in the end zone, where Michigan State’s Kalon Gervin recovered to end the game with a defensive score.
-Field Level Media