Seldom used Ashton Leggett came off the bench to rush 14 times for 110 yards and four TDs to lead MSU to the win. Quarterback Kirk Cousins went 22-of-25 for 353 yards and two TDs, Blair White caught six passes for 70 yards. Leggett, in place of starter Larry Caper, burst off tackle for a 71-yard TD and followed it up with a two-yard plunge to make it 14-0. Leggett added another 1-yard plunge sandwiched between Cousins' two TD passes and added a 14-yard jaunt for good measure. Edwin Baker added 78 yards on 15 carries.
The win improved the Spartans to .500 with two games left, but MSU may need a win both of its remaining games to secure a bowl bid after Northwestern's shocking 17-10 upset of previously undefeated Iowa.
The win makes Northwestern (6-4) both bowl eligible and very attractive. They have a winnable game against suddenly potent Illinois (2-5, with back to back conference wins) and a road date with Wisconsin. Win both and finish 8-4 would get then into the fifth spot in the conference ahead of the Spartans.
Iowa lost makes it very likely there will be three 10-2 teams atop the conference, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin taking the Rose, Capital One and Outback bowl bids. Iowa (9-1), without quarterback Ricky Stanzi needs to find a way to win one of its remaining game or it is headed to the Alamo Bowl while Northwestern takes the lead for the Champs Sports bowl. Reeling Michigan (5-5) lost its third in a row, at home to Purdue and at 1-5 in the conference will have a hard time getting into the bowl picture with the toughest remaining games against 7-2 Wisconsin and 7-2 Ohio State.
A 5-7 finish appears likely and the only way the Maize-and-Blue can save their season and salvage a bowl appearance is by upsetting Ohio State in the season finale in Ann Arbor. That might be good enough for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Minnesota (5-5) could have written a ticket to the Insight bowl today, but even with their loss to Illinois, they will become bowl eligible next week when they face the FCS South Dakota State Jackrabbits, but which Gopher team will show up in the next two weeks against suddenly dangerous Illinois and vulernable Iowa? They could win both or lose both.
MSU (5-5) faces a dangerous road game against conference Super Spoilers Purdue. The Boilers have already knocked off Ohio State and Michigan and despite having six losses are supremely dangerous.
Still, if the Spartans defeat Purdue, they become bowl-eligible and end the Boilermakers bowl hopes.
Illnois is the longest of shots, but after back-to-back wins over Michigan and Minnesota it will be interesting to see if they can defeat Northwestern and set themselves up for a spotlight date on the road against #5 Cincinnati with a shot at a bowl game.