As Michigan State and Northwestern entered overtime tied at 41, they felt confident that if they stayed true to their game plan, they would come out victorious, but in the end, one team stayed true, and the other felt defeat.
The two teams combined for 1092 yards in the first four quarters, but the Wildcats got the extra 25 in overtime while the Spartans got away from their game.
MSU ran the ball well all day long, with Javon Ringer running for a whopping 185 yards on just 12 carries in helping his team total 287 rushing yards on the day.
But when it seemed like MSU needed to run the ball most, they lost the game having thrown the ball on their last seven plays.
"But we just couldn't get it done in overtime," said MSU coach Mark Dantonio. "We could sit around and question all kinds of things for what we're doing defensively and offensively, but the bottom line is that if you score 41 points, you should win a football game, and we did not."
"(Ringer) got a lot of touches, and I think it was just a great game plan offensively. Coach (Don) Treadwell and the offensive staff did a nice job game planning, and took advantage of some of the things they were doing, and there were some great individual efforts," Dantonio added.
"We thought that based on some of the coverage they were in, we could take a shot and we just missed," said MSU offensive coordinator Don Treadwell. "They did a good job of rolling back and creating pressure and we'll go back and look at the situations for later in the year, work on that and come together and try to move forward."
Northwestern started out the overtime in quick fashion, as running back Omar Conteh caught a 12-yard touchdown pass on just the third Wildcat play in overtime. The Wildcats continued their thrashing of the MSU defense as they did all day.
The MSU sideline seemed confident that they could answer back with a score of their own, but four consecutive passing plays and overthrows later, Michigan State slowly walked off the field having lost their second consecutive game in the closing seconds.
"When you get behind on downs, and you have an opportunity to hit Kellen (Davis) when we got him open twice, we'll try and hit him," said MSU coach Mark Dantonio. "The game was going pretty quickly, but after two downs, you have to change the mindset, and we had to pass. All I can tell you is that 41 points is enough to win a football game."
Their weapon had been the running game all day long, but in the most crucial time of the game, only needing ten yards for a first down; MSU chose to go for the end zone.
"I think like we felt like we could take advantage of them, we had been pounding the ball all game," said quarterback Brian Hoyer. "We believe in a balanced attack, so we thought we could get a shot in there and get a touchdown early, but it just didn't work out. They made some good plays and had some stuff covered."
Not only did Michigan State throw on four consecutive passes in overtime, but with exception to the first pass to tight end Kellen Davis, the passes were uncatchable and not to the team's playmaker players, who had gotten them to where they were in the game.
Aside from Ringer's absence in overtime, star wideout Devin Thomas was not the intended receiver on any of the four passes at the end, after having 266 all-purpose yards in the game prior to the extra period.
"I feel like I give 100 percent out there but I just wish it could have been more," said Ringer. "I know I had a big game but to me it's nothing without the win. I would have been fine with nothing today as long as we would have gotten the win."
Now the Spartans find themselves having dropped two dramatic and emotional games, heading into their homecoming game next week against Indiana.
"Life is full of disappointments. It can come out on the football field in front of 75,000 people or whatever it was, or it can come alone someday. Life is about disappointments, and how you handle those disappointments. That's going to ultimately decide whether we're successful or not as people. I stand up here right now knowing that as the head coach of this football team, life isn't going to be pretty all the time. I'm disappointed for our football team and our players, but I'm also going to accept it and move forward," said Dantonio.
While arguably Michigan State had the more talented and skilled team out on the field, it was Northwestern who came in to Spartan Stadium with a game plan, and stuck with the things that do well, proving that sometimes it doesn't matter how good your players are, it is how they handle themselves under pressure that many times determines if a team wins or loses.
MSU Caved In Overtime
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