Kicked in the Stomach

Despite out-rushing, out-gaining and leading for 59 minutes and 53 seconds, the Badgers, thanks to a plethora of untimely penalties, surrender the momentum to the Spartans and fall to Michigan State 25-24.

EAST LANSING, Mich. - During their tumultuous start to the conference season, the Wisconsin football team seemingly found a different way to lose each game.

Their was the second-half collapse at Michigan, the final drive against Ohio State, the blowout again Penn State and getting run over in Iowa. Punch after punch, one would thought the Badgers had lost in virtually every conceivable way.

After Saturday's disaster, you can add another way to that list.

Up 11 points with nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter and seemingly in control the entire afternoon, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema and the UW sidelines were flagged for back-to-back penalties, causing the momentum to drastically shift in the other direction.

In the following minutes, Michigan State scored the game's final 12 points to cap a stunning comeback on a 44-yard Brett Swenson field goal with seven seconds remaining to stun Wisconsin, 25-24, at Spartan Stadium.

"We have to play well enough to overcome certain obstacles and that's on us," senior tackle Mike Newkirk said. "It's disappointing. It's heart breaking. It's been trying times here."

When John Clay scampered untouched for a 32-yard touchdown with just over nine minutes remaining, the Badgers (4-5, 1-5 Big Ten), leading 24-13, looked as if their season was beginning to turn around.

Before they could blink, Wisconsin began to unravel and it started with the attitude of its head coach.

After the whistle blew the ensuing kickoff dead, linesmen Mike Delce called a delay of game penalty on the Badgers after, according to safety Jay Valai, he unintentionally bumped into Delce while heading onto the field.

The five-yard penalty drew the ire of Bielema, who after a short discussion was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, moving the start of the Michigan State drive from their own 36 to UW's 44.

"They said our defensive unit went on the field too fast (and) we hadn't been warned or told to be aware of that," Bielema said about the first penalty. "When I asked what the cause for the foul was, he told me he was being interfered with to do his job. I told him that in my opinion, he wasn't doing a good job and that's what drew the 15-yard penalty."

Those 20-bonus yards got the ball rolling for the Spartans (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten), as the 75,121 State fans finally had something to start cheering about. Michigan State running back Javon Ringer, who had been stymied all afternoon by UW's defensive front, managed to bully his way in from two yards to score his second touchdown of the game, which cut the lead to five after quarterback Brian Hoyer's two-point conversion pass sailed out of the end zone.

After a UW three-and-out, the Spartans tacked on 50-yard Swenson field goal to cut the lead to one with five minutes, 16 seconds remaining.

After an eight-play drive by Wisconsin milked the game clock down to one minute, 19 seconds, the Badgers watched the Spartans drive 56 yards down the field in only eight plays, as Swenson's leg sent the Badgers to their fifth loss in the last six games.

"We really respect Coach Bielema and obviously, he feels horrible about the penalty," junior safety Chris Maragos said. "At the same time, we're out on the field and it should never come down to penalties. We need to do our job and make sure we're holding our own."

Until the midway point in the fourth quarter, it looked like it was going to be the Badgers' day. Wisconsin out gained Michigan State on the ground (281 to 25), overall (430-312) and sacked Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer three times.

More importantly, the Badgers jumped on the scoreboard first.

After both teams squandered its opening possessions, Wisconsin, starting on its own 49, started to make a dent in the Spartan defense. Running the end around to David Gilreath around the left side for a gain of 21 yards, the Badgers went 51 yards in eight plays, capping the drive with a Sherer to Graham touchdown pass.

After Michigan State drove twice inside the 30-yard line and settled for just two field goals (the Spartans dropped an easy touchdown pass and decided to kick a field goal on fourth-and-two from the four), the Badgers, with just 1:49 on the clock before halftime, add some insurance.

Running the two-minute offense efficiently, Sherer went 4-for-7, including a 36-yard pass to Nick Toon that set up UW on MSU's 14-yard line. When the drive stalled, Welch connected on his 11-consecutive field goal to extend the lead back to four.

After the Spartans unsuccessfully attempted a fake punt, giving UW prime field position on MSU's 40, the Badgers padded their lead with P.J. Hill found the end zone for the first time in four weeks, running through the left side to pad the Badgers' lead to 11.

The big lead was short lived, as the Spartans continued to pick on sophomore cornerback Niles Brinkley. Already being fooled on a wide-receiver option and flagged for pass interference after tripping Chris Rucker, Brinkley was out ran by Blair White for a 41-yard pass play that set MSU up on UW's 21.

From there, Ringer bullied his way through the Badger defense for the first of two two-yard touchdowns.

The Badgers answered though with John Clay's 32-yard touchdown rush to get the lead back to 11. But, it was all downhill from there.

"It's not something that is a real great thing to experience, the snowball effect going against you out on the field," Newkirk said. "They beat us on the pass and knew what they had to deal. We forced them into a situation that we didn't think they would want to be in and they were still able to come through."

Including the two sideline penalties, Wisconsin was flagged 12 times for 121 yards, both season highs. On the flip side, Michigan State was penalized just twice for 30 yards.

"I apologized for the 15-yard penalty on myself," Bielema said. "We did certain things over the course of the game that we couldn't overcome and that begins with the attitude that I took to get that personal foul. It's just a difficult day to swallow."

Badger Nation Top Stories