EAST LANSING, MI - OCTOBER 22: B.J. Cunningham #3 and Keith Nichol #7 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrate Nichol catching a game-winning 44 yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins #8 as time ran out to defeat the Wisconsin Badgers 37-31 at Spartan Stadium on October 22, 2011 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)

Michigan State Vs. Wisconsin: Spartans Win On Last-Second Hail Mary

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Michigan State Vs. Wisconsin Final Score: Spartans Win On Last-Second Hail Mary, 37-31

Saturday night was quite the roller coaster ride for Michigan State. The Spartans went from trailing 14-0 to Wisconsin, to leading by 14 in the fourth quarter, to blowing the lead and being tied with less than a minute to go. It looked like MSU was going to have to rebound and try to hold off Wisconsin in overtime, but then the Spartans found some of that primetime magic they had last year against Notre Dame.

On the final play of the game, with the ball on the Wisconsin 44-yard line, Kirk Cousins dropped back and threw up a Hail Mary. A Wisconsin player tried to bat the ball down, but he mistimed his jump. As a result, the ball bounced off of an MSU receiver and landed right in the arms of Keith Nichol. He caught the ball at what seemed like the one-inch line, and after a battle between Nichol and Wisconsin defenders, the referees ruled Nichol was down short of the goal line. The play was reviewed, however, and the referees overturned the call and ruled Nichol did break the plane. Translation: Touchdown MSU. Ball game MSU. (Check out video of the Hail Mary here.)

The 37-31 victory for the Spartans means they are now 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten. They are in the driver's seat to win the Legends Division, and they could very well see Wisconsin again later this season in Indianapolis. If what happened on Saturday night is any indication, that would be quite the inaugural the Big Ten title game.

Early on, Saturday night's game looked like it was going to be anything but memorable. Wisconsin got out to a quick 14-0 lead and was dominating the Spartans. MSU did a 180 in the second quarter, however, and suddenly it was the Spartans putting the hurt on Wisconsin.

Things started to go downhill for Wisconsin when Russell Wilson was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone, giving MSU a safety. The Spartans then scored on a 34-yard reverse by Keshawn Martin. Following a blocked field goal, MSU took the lead on a B.J. Cunningham touchdown on fourth down. Then, less than a minute later, a blocked punt was recovered in the end zone for a Michigan State touchdown. At halftime, the Spartans shockingly led by a score of 23-14.

Wisconsin battled back in the third quarter with a field goal to make it a one possession game. The Spartans opened the fourth quarter with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Martin, putting them back up by two scores. MSU looked to have the game in hand, but a 22-yard touchdown run by Wilson made it a game again. After a couple of big defensive stands by Wisconsin, Wilson led the Badgers down the field again, and Montee Ball scored from two yards out to tie the game.

Had Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema simply played for overtime, regulation likely would have ended with a tie score. He decided to try and get the ball back instead, and the plan backfired. After Wisconsin called timeouts to extend the game, Michigan State picked up a first down and made use of the extra time. It allowed the Spartans to move into Wisconsin territory, and it also made the Hail Mary from Cousins to Nichol possible. Bielema appeared to escape the last-second touchdown at first, but this screenshot from CJ Fogler says it all:


The ball broke the plane just enough for the replay official to rule that Michigan State had scored, and just like that Wisconsin went from thinking it had done enough to at least go to overtime to seeing its perfect season go down in flames.

Obviously, this was an unbelievable game and an even more unbelievable finish. In the larger context of the season, though, this game is about much more than a miracle touchdown on the final play. The win means the Spartans are still the only undefeated team in the Legends Division, and if they can get past Nebraska next week, they could very well cruise to the Big Ten title game. There is still a lot of football to be played, of course, but Michigan State is one win away from escaping a ridiculous October schedule unscathed.


Michigan State Vs. Wisconsin Score Update: Spartans On Top After 3 Quarters, 23-17

Unlike the first two quarters of Saturday night's game between Michigan State and Wisconsin, there wasn't much action in the third quarter. The first quarter saw 14 Wisconsin points, and Michigan State put up 23 in the second quarter. The only scoring in the third was a Wisconsin field goal, though.

The second half began with Wisconsin forcing a Michigan State punt. The Badgers then went down the field and got to the 16-yard line before their drive stalled. They were actually able to get a kick off without it being blocked, and the 33-yard field goal made the score 23-17 in MSU's favor.

The score remains 23-17 as the fourth quarter gets started. Following a three-and-out by the Spartans, Wisconsin moved into MSU territory but couldn't get anything out of the trip past the 50. Russell Wilson looked like he might have been able to keep the drive alive on third-and-seven, but he fumbled the ball out of bounds on the scramble. That forced a punt, and MSU has since moved the ball into Wisconsin territory and is threatening to make this a two-score game once again.


Michigan State Vs. Wisconsin Score Update: Spartans Lead At Halftime, 23-14

After one quarter in East Lansing, Michigan State was in a world of trouble. The Spartans were down 14-0 and were being dominated by Wisconsin. At halftime, however, this is a completely different game. Michigan State destroyed Wisconsin in the second quarter and now leads by a score of 23-14 at halftime as a result.

The Spartans' turnaround in this game began with Mike Sadler pinning Wisconsin deep in its own territory on a punt. Wisconsin found itself at the five-yard line, and after Montee Ball was tackled for a loss of three, the Badgers had even less room to work with. Russell Wilson tried to get something going with a pass, but he had to throw the ball away after facing pressure and the referees flagged him for intentional grounding. As a result, Michigan State got a safety and put its first points on the board.

Michigan State quickly capitalized on the safety by going down the field 72 yards in only four plays. After a couple of big passes by Kirk Cousins, Keshawn Martin took the ball on a reverse and went 34 yards for a touchdown. Suddenly this was a one possession game.

Wisconsin looked like it was finally getting things back on track on the next drive. The Badgers were moving the ball with ease and were threatening to score until Ball took a shot to the head and had to exit the game after stumbling to the ground. Wisconsin was stuffed on third-and-two on the next play, and instead of going for it on fourth-and-one, Bret Bielema opted to kick a field goal. That turned out to be a mistake, because MSU blocked the kick, keeping the score at 14-9.

The Spartans once again capitalized on the momentum generated by a big special teams play and went 80 yards in eight plays and found the end zone on a 35-yard pass to Cunningham on fourth-and-two. The touchdown gave Michigan State its first lead, and they weren't done just yet.

Wisconsin went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and Michigan State used all of its timeouts. The Spartans didn't want to wait around for the offense to score, though. Michigan State made another big special teams play and blocked Wisconsin's punt. The ball was deflected into the end zone and recovered by MSU for a touchdown, putting the Spartans on top 23-14 at halftime.

The turnaround for MSU has been absolutely stunning. The Spartans went from being dominated and looking like they could be blown out to dominating Wisconsin and looking like they could run away with this game. It will be interesting to see how the two teams come out in the second half after a wild second quarter.


Michigan State Vs. Wisconsin Score Update: Dominant First Quarter Has Badgers Up, 14-0

Saturday night's game against Wisconsin did not get off to a good start for Michigan State. Just like last week, the Spartans gave up a long touchdown drive to start the game. Then, unlike last week, they responded by turning the ball over and giving up another touchdown. The slow start has put them in a 14-0 hole after 15 minutes of play in East Lansing.

The first scoring drive for Wisconsin was pretty simple: run the ball right down MSU's throats. Wisconsin ran Montee Ball four straight times to start the game, and after pounding the Spartans' defensive line, the Badgers found themselves inside the 10-yard line. On third-and-four, Russell Wilson got involved with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Pedersen, who was all by himself on a wheel route.

Looking to bounce back, Michigan State shot itself in the foot instead. Edwin Baker fumbled the ball away to Wisconsin on the only play of the ensuing drive, and Wisconsin scored another touchdown three plays later on a nine-yard run by Ball.

Michigan State managed to move the chains on its next drive, but it stalled after a pair of Baker runs went for negative yardage. Wisconsin couldn't capitalize and make this a three-score game, though. Wilson was picked off by Trenton Robinson, and Michigan State now has a chance to get back into this game.


William Gholston Suspended For One Game By Big Ten

The Big Ten announced on Thursday that it will be suspending Michigan State's William Gholston for violating the Big Ten Sportslike Conduct Agreement during their game against Michigan on Oct. 15 At the end of the third quarter, Gholston twisted the helmet of Denard Robinson, and punched Taylor Lewan. The Big Ten cited a specific clause in the agreement that was violated in a press release:

The Big Ten determined that Gholston's actions at the end of the third quarter of the Michigan contest violated Big Ten Conference Agreement 10.01.1.A.1 - "Striking or attempting to strike or otherwise physically abusing an official, opposing coach, spectator or athlete." The conference office also publicly reprimanded Gholston for his actions.

The team posted the press release, along with some comments on the incident and suspension on their own website:

MSU took this incident seriously, and this was reflected in my attempt to gather, understand and share with the Big Ten extensive information about what likely contributed to the incident. ... Make no mistake; there is no place for a thrown punch in a football game. At the same time, it was important to get beyond the two-second video clip. It is critical that we strive to reduce and eliminate the sporadic incidents that detract from the game. In order to do that, we all must understand, be accountable and manage the environment to reduce these types of reactions. 

Emphasis mine. It sounds like the school is reprimanding Gholston, while at the same time expressing its dissatisfaction with Michigan and the way their players set the situation up. It's a worthy point: these things happen in football and much more should be looked at than the reaction of one player, but it's hard to argue that Gholston doesn't deserve the one-game suspension - there's just no way to get past having that kind of thing happen in a game.

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