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Silence fell upon the Michigan State crowd as the officials conferred over the game’s final play. And the referees, in the biggest call of the night, finally got it right.
The No. 16 Michigan State Spartans, after fighting against all odds, used up all of their rosary beads and prayer power in a last-second Hail Mary pass that decided the game, upsetting their conference rivals and giving the No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers their first loss of the season, Saturday night.
With the game tied at 31 and four seconds left in the fourth quarter, Spartans’ QB Kirk Collins rolled to the right and launched a 44-yard bomb to the end zone. After popping out of one receiver’s hands, the ball shot right into former QB turned WR Keith Nichol’s arms where he fought two Wisconsin defenders and just barely crossed the plane for a game-winning touchdown pass that would be enshrined into Michigan State history.
The Spartans, after going down 14-0 in the first quarter, went on a rampage in the second, scoring 23 unanswered points before the half. But after giving up two scores in the fourth, it would take a miracle for Michigan State to avoid the dreaded overtime bout. And a miracle they received.
Collins led the charge for the Spartans, completing 22-of-31 passes for 290 and three touchdowns; none of which were more important than the last-second heave for the win. And his main target, B.J. Cunningham, finished with six receptions for 102 yards. But it would be Keith Nichol, who went reception-less for the first 59 minutes and 56 seconds, that would make the biggest reception of the game.
Badgers’ QB Russel Wilson also had a decent night, going 14-of-21 for 223 yards, but he matched his touchdowns with interceptions, finishing with two in both columns. RB Montee Ball had a great night with 115 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, but it would be the Michigan State Spartans who came out on top in the end.
The Spartans’ defense was one of the deciding factors of the game, as their ability to force turnovers proved to be a nightmare for the Badgers’ offense and Special Teams. The Michigan State defense blocked both a punt and field goal, the punt being recovered in the endzone for a Spartan touchdown.
These two teams look to see each other in the near future, as part two to this epic battle will metabolize itself in the form of the first ever Big Ten Conference Championship. Both tied at 6-1 for the best in the Big 10, the Badgers and Spartans will likely meet again in December, where we will be blessed, yet again, with a high-scoring, high-energy fight to the death.
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