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.