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Northwestern vs. Michigan State 2012: Turnovers prove costly for Spartans

The Michigan State Spartans turned the ball over four times on the way to their fifth conference defeat.

Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE

Michigan State fell to Northwestern on Saturday, 23-20, in yet another close, heartbreaking defeat for the Spartans this season.

Michigan State turned the ball over four times, the most costly of which was an interception returned for a Northwestern touchdown just after halftime. The score gave the Wildcats a lead they would never surrender. Northwestern took advantage of Michigan State turnovers, without allowing any takeaways themselves. SB Nation's Michigan State blog The Only Colors writes that when you turn the ball over four times and generate zero takeaways yourself, you lose more often than not.

One interception led directly to points for Northwestern. A second killed a promising drive. A fumbled snap killed a third at the goal line (though it did lead to two points). And a fumble at the end of a long catch stalled us out again. You're not going to get away with that against even mediocre teams, and Northwestern is better than mediocre.

Michigan State is now 2-5 in the conference ,with all five losses finishing as one-possession games. Overall, the Spartans are in danger of missing the postseason, as they are not yet bowl eligible at 5-6. Their last chance to claim postseason eligibility comes next Saturday at Minnesota, who sits slightly ahead of Michigan State in the Legends Division standings.