Trailing the Michigan State Spartans by two touchdowns, the Northwestern Wildcats began the fourth quarter going for it on fourth down. Dan Persa completed a pass to Jeremy Elbert for 19 yards, and that set up another pass a play later, this one for 12 yards and a touchdown to Demetrius Fields, bringing the game within reach, and threatening to prevent the Spartans from a second-straight 10-win season.
Unfortunately for Northwestern, they weren't able to hold them. After a couple punts, Michigan State threw together a nine play, 93 yard drive that ended in a Kirk Cousins touchdown pass to B.J. Cunningham for 29 yards and a touchdown, putting the Spartans up 31-17. The Wildcats started to drive again, but faced a 4th and 18 at the MSU 27 yard line, but Persa was sacked for a loss of yardage and Michigan State took back over.
Michigan State managed to eat a lot of time off the clock and Northwestern took over with 32 seconds remaining on the clock. The clock was killed, though, and the Spartans won 31-17, giving them their second-straight 10-win season. Kirk Cousins finished 14 of 20 for 214 yards and two touchdowns against a single interception. Le'Veon Bell, Edwin Baker and Cousins combined for 166 yards rushing on the ground, with Bell having the bulk of them, at 86 yards and a touchdown. B.J. Cunningham had 120 yards receiving for the Spartans.
The game was closer than the final score indicates, with the Wildcats putting up 253 yards passing and 117 yards on the ground, plus they didn't throw any picks - but the game was lost either way, and Michigan State can say they are not co-champions, even if Michigan beats Ohio State on Saturday.