12:00 PM ET, November 1, 2008
Spartan Stadium (MI), East Lansing, MI
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State started flat and finished sky high.
Brett Swenson kicked a 44-yard field goal with 7 seconds left, lifting the 21st-ranked Spartans to a 25-24 comeback win over Wisconsin on Saturday.
• Brett Swenson kicked a 44-yard field goal with 7 seconds left to give Michigan State the win. It was one of four field goals made by Swenson on the day.
• The Spartans were outgained 430 to 312 and allowed 281 yards on the ground to the Badgers.
• Javon Ringer ran for a season-low 54 yards on 21 carries, but he did add two touchdowns. He now has 18 TDs this season and 30 for his career, which puts him fifth on the school's all-time list.
• The Spartans are 8-2 for the first time since 1999 and still control their destiny for the Big Ten title if they beat Purdue and Penn State.
-- ESPN research
Michigan State was lackluster for much of the game and seemed headed for a 1-5 record in games following its last six wins against Michigan, but erased an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit and took its first lead when the game was on the line.
"We were flat and I hate to say that," Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. "It might've been because we were coming off an emotional win over Michigan after going into the Ohio State game with a lot of emotion, but the important thing is we finished strong.
"Wow. A game like that keeps you alive," he said.
The victory allowed the Spartans (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) to hang onto hopes of closing the regular season at Penn State -- after hosting Purdue -- with a chance to at least share the conference championship for the first time since 1990.
"Good teams find a way to win those games and that's what we've become," quarterback Brian Hoyer said.
Michigan State is 8-2 for just the second time in four decades and will play in consecutive bowls for the first time since the end of the Nick Saban era in the late 1990s.
The Badgers (4-5, 1-5) might be staying home in the postseason for the first time since 2001 in a year that started with promise.
They began No. 13 in The Associated Press poll and rose to No. 9 with a 3-0 start.
Wisconsin then blew a 19-point, second-half lead against the Wolverines in the Big Ten opener and lost the next three games.
"Obviously this has put them in a very difficult spot if you look to the beginning of the season to where we are now," coach Bret Bielema said.
Just when the Badgers seemed to turn the season around by winning against Illinois and leading the Spartans for nearly 60 minutes, it fell apart.
"Everything is kind of in disarray right now," safety Chris Maragos said.
The Badgers led for the seventh time in nine games before collapsing with physical and mental mistakes, including at least one by Bielema that helped Michigan State start its comeback.
Wisconsin finished with 12 penalties for 121 yards and Michigan State had two for 30.
After the Badgers went ahead by 11 with 9:19 left, they were called for delay of game and Bielema was called for unsporstmanlike conduct to give Michigan State 20 yards on a 64-yard drive for a TD.
"I told our guys after the game, 'First off, I apologize for losing the 15-yard penalty myself,'" Bielema said.
The Spartans held Wisconsin to a three-and-out drive and Swenson kicked a 50-yard field goal, then Wisconsin had a chance to seal the victory.
But a holding penalty negated a run to the Michigan State 4 and a first down. Then, a false start pushed the Badgers back to the 40 and led to a punt.
The Spartans had the ball at their 17 with no timeouts and 1:19 left on the game-winning drive.
The Spartans scrambled to get lined up for a field goal, but were given a chance to set up because Wisconsin called a timeout with 12 seconds left. The Badgers called their last timeout, hoping to rattle the kicker only to watch Swenson take his helmet off, laugh and make the field goal.
"The first timeout helped me out because it gave me a chance to relax after rushing on the field," Swenson said. "The second timeout, I thought was funny because he was trying to ice me and I knew that wouldn't work."
Swenson was 4-for-4 on field goals, carrying the offense in perhaps the most clutch performance by a kicker in Michigan State history as Javon Ringer was held to a season-low 54 yards and Hoyer completed just 43 percent of his passes and didn't throw a TD pass.
Ringer was about 100 yards rushing short of his average, but did scored two TDs after being slowed by flulike symptoms during the week. Hoyer was 19-of-44 for 252 yards, connecting with White seven times for 164 yards.
Wisconsin's John Clay ran for 111 yards, including a 32-yard TD that gave the Badgers a 24-13 lead early in the fourth quarter, and P.J. Hill had 106 yards rushing and a score that gave them an 11-point lead in the third.
"We had the game in our hands and we gave it away," Clay said. "It hurts."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Brett Swenson kicked a 44-yard field goal with 7 seconds left to give the Spartans the win.
Gameball goes to... Blair White. He had seven catches for 164 yards, including two key catches in MSU's winning drive.
Stat of the game... 281-25. Wisconsin dominated the ground game and outgained Michigan State by 256 rushing yards.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-15||5-17|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-1|
|TD||03:01||Garrett Graham 1 Yd Pass From Dustin Sherer (Philip Welch Kick)||7||0|
|FG||08:45||Brett Swenson 27 Yd||7||3|
|FG||01:39||Brett Swenson 21 Yd||7||6|
|FG||00:07||Philip Welch 31 Yd||10||6|
|TD||04:19||P.J. Hill 10 Yd Run (Philip Welch Kick)||17||6|
|TD||02:59||Javon Ringer 2 Yd Run (Brett Swenson Kick)||17||13|
|TD||09:19||John Clay 32 Yd Run (Philip Welch Kick)||24||13|
|TD||08:13||Javon Ringer 2 Yd Run (Two-Point Pass Conversion Failed)||24||19|
|FG||05:16||Brett Swenson 50 Yd||24||22|
|FG||00:07||Brett Swenson 44 Yd||24||25|