Gophers Shake Off 17 Flags to Beat MSU

MSU was hurt by two inexplicable calls by an overzealous refereeing crew that flagged the Gophers for a conference-record 17 penalties while calling twenty-six penalties total. Their actions overshadowed what should have been on center stage - a critical conference game that featured two teams jockeying for a bowl berth.

The Minnesota Gophers were able to shake off a Big Ten record 17 penalties and still defeat Michigan State 42-34 in a loss that severely damages the Spartans bowl chances.

MSU was hurt by two inexplicable calls by the Big Ten refereeing crew that was busy calling over 26 flags and taking center stage in a game that between two teams jockeying for a bowl berth.

The referees overturned what was clearly a fumble by receiver Nick Tow-Arnett, who caught the football, took two steps and then fumbled away the football to Chris L. Rucker, but the refs called it an incomplete pass.

In the fourth quarter, quarterback Adam Weber hit Tow-Arnett who was pounded by corner Jeremy Ware, hit the ground and lost the football. Instead of calling Arnett down by contact, ruled it a live fumble that was scooped up by Duane Bennett who ran 59 yards for the game clinching touchdown.

Michigan State, however can only blame themselves for not being ready to play from the opening kickoff. Minnesota scored on the first play of the game, with Weber hitting Bennett for a 62-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead.

Edwin Baker fumbled on MSU's first play and the Gophers were back in business at the MSU 28-yard line. It took just three play for Weber to hit Brandon Green from 37-yards out to give Minnesota a 14-0 led with just over two minutes gone in the game.

Adding to their woes was a profound lack of passing defense.

Weber, who hadn't thrown a touchdown in four games, torched the MSU secondary for 416 yards and five TDs on the night in the process claiming the Gophers all-time career passing mark.

MSU was not able to run the ball effectively, either. Despite showing 111 total yards rushing, most of that came due to the heroics of Inkster, MI. native Keshawn Martin, who tried single-handedly to deliver the Green-and-White.

With MSU down 21-10 at the half, Martin got the Spartans back into the game with an 84-yard kickoff return which cut the Gophers lead to just four. After the Gophers answered with a five play 61-yard drive, Martin pulled of an 84-yard reverse for a TD.

The Spartans even took a short-lived lead when quarterback Kirk Cousins hit freshman tight end Dion Sims for an 11-yard touchdown to go up 31-28. But the Gophers answered with a Weber to Tow Arnett two yard quick slant reminisicent of the Iowa game-winning play a week ago.

The loss drops MSU to 4-5 and fifth place in the Big Ten. They need to win out against Western Michigan, Purdue and Penn State to get a holiday bowl game.

Two out of three would barely make them bowl eligible at 6-6 and likely sends them to the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl. After their great 9-3 season last year, MSU's performance - losing five winnable games, largely due to their inability to stop opponents passing games - has been a big disappointment.

Still they have three game remaining to try to salvage a winning record.

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