(Saturday, October 11th)
Final Score: (23) Michigan State 37, Northwestern 20
Evanston, IL (Sports Network) - Javon Ringer ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries to lead 23rd-ranked Michigan State to a 37-20 win over Big Ten rival Northwestern.
Brian Hoyer passed for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-20 passing for the Spartans (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten), who became bowl eligible with their sixth consecutive win. Michigan State's only loss came in the first game of the season, a 38-31 setback at Cal.
Andrew Hawken and Garrett Celek each caught a touchdown pass for the Spartans, while kicker Brett Swenson was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts. Swenson has been successful on 15 consecutive field goals, a Michigan State record.
The Spartans were outgained 459-297, but also held the ball for five more minutes than Northwestern.
"The guys just kept making plays. The guys just kept responding," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. "That's what we felt like we had to do. We had to respond mentally before we could respond physically. You have to respond mentally."
C.J. Bacher completed 34-of-61 passes for 283 yards and a TD for Northwestern (5-1, 1-1), but threw two crucial interceptions. The Wildcats had been off to their first 5-0 start since 1962.
Tyrell Sutton ran for 139 yards on 23 carries for Northwestern, while Ross Lane caught nine passes for 113 yards. Rasheed Ward had seven catches, one for a touchdown.
The Spartans worked with terrific field position early in the game, starting their first drive at midfield. They went three-and-out then, but after a short Northwestern punt, MSU started at the Wildcats' 42.
Hoyer completed a 20-yard pass to B.J. Cunningham down to the nine-yard line. Several rushes later Hoyer found Celek for a three-yard passing TD.
Northwestern's Sherrick McManis fumbled as he was tackled on the ensuing kickoff return, giving the Spartans the ball at the NU 25. They drove down to the nine-yard line again, but settled for a 26-yard field goal from Swenson for a 10-0 MSU lead.
Another turnover hurt Northwestern on its next series. Bacher was pressured and, scrambling, forced a throw that went directly to the Spartans' Danny Fortener in the middle of the field. It set Michigan State up at the Northwestern 34, and Ringer finished the drive with two rushes, the second a 13-yard dash into the end zone.
The Wildcats at last got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter, on a drive that bridged the first two stanzas. Bacher's four-yard scoring run capped the 13-play drive to bring Northwestern within 17-7.
Northwestern threatened to score again later in the quarter, driving to the Michigan State 23, but Bacher was intercepted again, this time by Johnny Adams midway through the frame. The Spartans turned it into another touchdown, as Hoyer lofted a pass for Hawken past the secondary at the right edge of the end zone. Hawken brought it down to give MSU a 24-7 lead at halftime.
The schools traded early third-quarter touchdowns. A 66-yard run by Sutton to the MSU 8 led to a six-yard toss from Bacher to Ward on a crossing route across the middle. Ringer's one-yard run with 10:23 left in the stanza made it a 31-14 contest.
A 31-yard field goal from Amado Villarreal brought Northwestern within 14 points, but Swenson's 42-yarder with 2:18 left in the third boosted Michigan State to a 34-17 lead. A little more than three minutes into the final stanza, Villarreal kicked a 22-yard field goal, but Northwestern got no closer. Swenson added a 34-yard boot with 5:54 remaining to complete the scoring.
Swenson broke the record of 13, accomplished by Paul Edinger in 1998..Michigan State holds a 33-16 advantage in the all-time series...Northwestern fell to 15-11 against MSU at home.
10/12 00:40:32 ET