UW's offense was only able to scratch out one touchdown against Michigan State's fifth-ranked defense and Wisconsin's defense buckled late in the fourth quarter and overtime, allowing Michigan State to escape with a 16-13 overtime victory Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
The loss sends Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) into its well-deserved bye week with only a 1.5-game lead in the Big Ten Leaders Division with three games to go in the regular season. It also ends Wisconsin's 21-game home winning streak.
Wisconsin's defense came up big in two critical situations. Following a blocked punt in the second quarter, giving the Spartans the ball on the Wisconsin's 11, UW's defense was so productive that Michigan State lost 23 yards and was forced to punt.
In the fourth quarter, senior cornerback Marcus Cromartie forced a fumble on receiver Lawrence Thomas, allowing Wisconsin to tack on a 39-yard field goal and take a 10-3 lead with 6:06 remaining.
It was at that point that the Spartans came alive, as junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell went 8 of 9 on the Michigan State's final drive of the game to tie the score.
Wisconsin kicked a 43-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime, but Maxwell connected with Bennie Fowler for a 12-yard pass to seal the win.
Joel Stave completed 9 of 11 passes for 127 yards and one touchdown before being knocked out of the game early in the third quarter. Sacked by defensive end William Gholston, Stave landed on his left non-throwing shoulder and did not return.
In his place, junior quarterback Danny O'Brien finished with 5 of 11 passing for 44 yards and no scores. Wisconsin was held to only 19 yards on 37 carries (0.5 yards per carry).
After dropping three conference games by a combined six points, Michigan State (5-4, 2-3) ends its two-game losing streak.
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10 plays, 90 yards, 5:23 TOP, 13:44 left
Jacob Pedersen 31-yard pass from Joel Stave (Kyle French kick)
Key Play: After going three-and-out on its first series, Joel Stave started to pick a part the Michigan State. Stave went 5-for-5 on the drive, 3-for-3 on third down and hit Pedersen on a crossing route for the score.
11 plays, 55 yards, 4:26 TOP, 9:13 left
FG Dan Conroy 34
Key Play: After Andrew Maxwell completed an eight-yard pass on third-and-6, the junior quarterback hit a wide-open Lawrence Thomas for 23 yards down to the Wisconsin 24.
5 plays, -3 yards, 2:11 TOP, 6:06 left
FG Kyle French 39
Key Play: Needing to catch a break, senior cornerback Marcus Cromarite's hit forces a fumble on Lawrence Thomas, giving UW the ball at the 18-yard line.
12 plays, 75 yards, 4:58 TOP, 1:08 left
Le'Veon Bell 5-yard pass from Andrew Maxwell (Conroy kick)
Key Play: Maxwell came alive on his team's final drive, going 8-for-9 passing for 69 yards.
3 plays, -1 yards
FG Kyle French 43
Key Play: UW's sideline wanted a pass interference call on a pass intended to Jacob Pedersen along the sideline, but got no such luck.
16-13 Michigan State
5 plays, 25 yards
Bennie Fowler 12-yard pass from Maxwell
Key Play: The coverage looked solid, but Maxwell found a low opening for Fowler to make the catch diving to the ground, sending the crowd into silence and the Spartans' sideline into jubilee.
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