Michigan State players celebrate after defeating Wisconsin 16-13 in overtime in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, in Madison, Wis.
Andy Manis, Associated Press - Ap
Michigan State beats Wisconsin in OT, 16-13
- Article by: NANCY ARMOUR
- Associated Press
- October 27, 2012 - 7:44 PM
MADISON, Wis. - Michigan State will take the victory and pass on the style points.
Andrew Maxwell completed nine of his last 11 passes, including a 12-yard touchdown to Bennie Fowler in overtime that lifted the Spartans to a 16-13 victory and snapped Wisconsin's 21-game home winning streak, the second-longest in the country.
"I'd rather win than be perfect," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said Saturday night.
Good thing, because neither the Spartans (5-4, 2-3 Big Ten) nor Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2) was close to being flawless. In fact, it was Wisconsin's inability to move forward that gave Michigan State a chance.
Marcus Cromartie forced a fumble and the Badgers recovered at the Michigan State 18 midway through the fourth quarter. But Wisconsin had to settle for Kyle French's 39-yard field goal after a drive that went minus-3 yards.
Maxwell responded with his best drive of the day, capping an 8-of-9 performance with a 5-yard pass to Le'Veon Bell, who bulldozed his way into the end zone to tie the game at 10 with a minute left.
"I think the defining moment, in terms of the overall picture of the game ... when we fumbled the football and they get it at the 18 or whatever it is and we hold them to three," Dantonio said. "That's big."
Michigan State won the toss in overtime and deferred. French kicked a 43-yard field goal after Isaiah Lewis broke up Danny O'Brien's pass to Jacob Pedersen on third-and-long. The Spartans kept it simple, handing the ball off to their workhorse Bell before Maxwell found Fowler in the end zone.
The Spartans flooded onto the field while the Badgers and their fans watched in stunned silence. It was Wisconsin's first loss at Camp Randall since Oct. 17, 2009, and only the Badgers' fourth in 48 home games under coach Bret Bielema.
It was the first win at Wisconsin since 2001 for the Spartans, who have won four of the last six against the Badgers.
"We knew it would be a tough task, but we were never able to get anything going on the ground," Bielema said. "Anytime that happens for us, offensively it's never going to be a good day."
After rushing for 804 yards in its last two games, Wisconsin managed a measly 19 yards rushing, its fewest in five years. Montee Ball, who had averaged better than 125 yards rushing in his last three games, was held to 46 and didn't get close to the end zone. James White added 16.
Losing Joel Stave didn't help, either. Stave injured his left shoulder when he was sacked on the opening play of the second half and did not return. He finished 9-of-11 for 127 yards.
Danny O'Brien, who had thrown all of four passes since losing his starting job to Stave after the third game, was 5-of-11 for 44 yards. He was sacked three times.
"It comes down to us playing better in the first quarter to get the trust that we can run the ball and do better things," Wisconsin center Travis Frederick said. "It took too much time to get adjusted. We need to play better in the first and second quarters."
Wisconsin and Michigan State have been two of the Big Ten's best in recent years. No school has won more conference games since 2010, and they've had a hand in the last two Big Ten championships. They shared it in 2010, and Wisconsin beat the Spartans in the inaugural Big Ten title game last year.
Their rivalry has been one of the highlights of the conference season, with the previous six games decided by all of 31 points. This was another close one, but it wasn't exactly riveting.
Michigan State struggled with penalties and negative plays all afternoon. Its ineptitude seemed to be summed up in one drive: After recovering a botched punt at the Wisconsin 11, the Spartans lost 23 yards and were forced to punt.
Yet Maxwell, who is starting this year after backing up Kirk Cousins the last two seasons, delivered when Michigan State needed him most.
He finished 24-of-39 for 216 yards.
"I'm very happy for Andrew Maxwell," Dantonio said. "To be the quarterback and take the ball down the field at the end of the game and score, I think that's what you dream of."
And the finish could be just what the Spartans need to revive their season. Ranked as high as No. 14 and expected to contend for the Big Ten title, Michigan State lost to Iowa and Michigan the last two weekends by a total of five points.
The back-to-back Big Ten losses were the first for the Spartans since 2009.
"To finally have one go our way, this could be the spark we need to kind of carry us forward and take us the rest of the way," Maxwell said.
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