Spartans gain defining moment win at Wisconsin
MADISON, Wis. -- It had been 11 years to the day since Michigan State last came away victorious from Camp Randall Stadium, but the Spartans used stifling defense and just enough offense to pull off an 16-13 upset victory over No. 25 Wisconsin on Saturday in a Big Ten game.
"Offense made plays down the stretch when we had to make it," said head coach Mark Dantonio. "
After holding the Badgers (6-3, 3-2) to a field goal on its first possession of overtime, Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell connected with Bennie Fowler in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass to snap Wisconsin's 21-game home winning streak.
"To be the quarterback and take the ball down the field at the end of the game and score, I think that's what you dream of," Dantonio said. "And then to come back in overtime and win it like that, I thought it was very fitting it went to Bennie Fowler."
Fowler struggled earlier in the year with dropped passes, which were key in defeats against Ohio State and Notre Dame.
"Every football team every season has defining moments, one way or the other," Dantonio said. "I think it sort of defined us a little bit today.
"We've been close. And What I'd like to say is basically, hey, we're not going to quit. We won't quit on people. We've always hung in there and that's a tribute to our team leadership and our chemistry as a group of people and individuals."
Maxwell's heroics began late in the fourth quarter. With Michigan State down seven with just over six minutes to go, he led the Spartans (5-4, 2-3) on an impressive 12-play, 75-yard drive to tie the score with 1:08 to go. Maxwell threw for 63 yards and rushed for 7 before pitching the ball to Le'Veon Bell for a 5-yard touchdown run on a shovel pass.
The teams headed to overtime after Wisconsin's attempt to reach field-goal range was stopped
with a sack that drove the Badgers back to their own 29-yard line.
The Badgers came in as one of the hottest rushing teams in the country, averaging 356 yards on the ground in their past two games, but Michigan State showed why it has the Big Ten's best rushing defense by limiting Wisconsin to 19 yards.
"We just kept playing, just kept playing," Dantonio said. "We just said, 'Hey, push them pack, push them back, way back, I guess.
"Our guys had enthusiasm and they had confidence."
The Badgers defense was also a brick wall, holding Le'Veon Bell, the country's third leading rusher, to 77 yards on the ground and forcing Michigan State to go to the air time and again.
Maxwell found limited success in the first two quarters except on the last drive of the half, finishing with 216 yards and two touchdowns.
Wisconsin's offense was unable to get anything going after its first scoring drive in the opening quarter. The futility only increased when freshman quarterback Joel Stave left the game with a shoulder injury after being sacked on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.
The Badgers' only scoring drive of the second half came off a fumble recovery at the Spartan 18-yard line. Wisconsin ran three plays for minus-2 yards, including a holding penalty that wiped out a touchdown run, and settled for a 39-yard field goal by Kyle French.
Montee Ball led Wisconsin with 46 yards rushing and tight end Jacob Pederson caught three passes for 65 yards and a touchdown to lead all receivers.
"I thought our guys invested a lot into that game during the course of the week," said Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema. "To go nine straight weeks (without a bye) and then to be on the verge of getting everything back to where we wanted to be is difficult to swallow."
NOTES: Wisconsin didn't have a 100-yard rusher for the first time since Sept. 29 when Ball rushed for 90 yards against Nebraska ... Bell passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in a season for the first time in his career ... After forcing only three turnovers in its first five games, Wisconsin has forced six in its last four, including one Saturday ... Saturday's game marked Wisconsin's first loss at home in 21 games.