(Saturday, November 27th)
Final Score: (11) Michigan State 28, Penn State 22
University Park, PA (Sports Network) - Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes, and the 11th-ranked Michigan State Spartans locked up at least a share of the Big Ten title with a 28-22 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium.
Cousins was highly efficient, completing 17-of-22 passes for 152 yards without an interception for the Spartans (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten), who had gone 20 years without ending the regular season atop the conference standings. Coupled with Ohio State's and Wisconsin's victories Saturday, Michigan State is now tied with the Buckeyes and Badgers and will have to hope it leapfrogs both in the BCS standings to earn a Rose Bowl berth.
"We're Big Ten champions and no one can ever take that away from the walls of our stadium," Cousins said. "We always talk about being champions, and we did it. It's a special moment, and you don't even know how much being a champion is stressed in our building, what championship teams do and what we need to do to be a championship team, and here we are with a championship on our resume, which no one can ever take away from us."
The Spartans also captured the Land Grant Trophy for winning this rivalry game for the first time since 2007, and it's the first victory for the team at Penn State since 1965, a year before Joe Paterno took over the Nittany Lions.
Matthew McGloin recorded 312 passing yards and two touchdowns on 23-of-43 efficiency for Penn State (7-5, 4-4), which ensured its worst season since going 4-7 in 2004. Justin Brown had six receptions for 106 yards in defeat.
"Obviously today, things started off slow for us," McGloin said. "That is an 11-1 team we played today, so that shows just how close we are. Even at Ohio State, in how we played in the first half. We need to learn how to finish games and complete games."
The Spartans never trailed and led nearly wire-to-wire after a game-opening series that ended with a touchdown.
Edwin Baker, who ran for 118 yards and a score on 28 carries, ran seven times on the nine-play drive for 40 yards and sprinted into the end zone from seven yards out for an early lead.
Penn State responded with Collin Wagner's 34-yard field goal, but Michigan State extended its lead early in the second quarter on Cousins' eight-yard pass to B.J. Cunningham, his first of two touchdown catches on the day, to provide a 14-3 advantage.
Cousins completed all three of his passes on the set, and Keshawn Martin's 35- yard run put the Spartans in the red zone two plays before the score.
The Nittany Lions tried to cut into their deficit with a late first-half drive and had first down on the MSU 38. McGloin, however, threw three straight incompletions, and Penn State elected to punt.
Each of the first five possessions of the second half ended in a punt, and the Spartans took over with just under five minutes left in the third on their own 48 after batting for field position.
Cousins promptly directed Michigan State 52 yards in only six plays, and his 24-yard touchdown pass to Cunningham made it 21-3 with 1:43 remaining in the third.
McGloin finally found the end zone on the third play of the fourth quarter with a 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Joe Suhey down the right sideline.
The Spartans, though, had a quick answer on Keith Nichol's three-yard touchdown toss to Charlie Gantt to restore an 18-point lead with 8 1/2 minutes to play.
Penn State climbed back to within 12 on Evan Royster's 10-yard burst up the middle with 5:51 left, and the Lions drove down the field with the clock ticking near a minute to play. McGloin was intercepted in the end zone, and instead of going down and ending the game, Trenton Robinson ran out of the end zone; PSU's Derek Moye subsequently ripped the ball out of his hands at the four-yard line.
Moye caught a touchdown pass on the next play for a 28-22 game with 56 seconds to go, but the Spartans recovered the ensuing onside kick to prevent the comeback.
Penn State outgained Michigan State overall, 396-331...Royster finished with 85 yards on 14 carries, while Moye had five catches for 65 yards...The Nittany Lions still lead the all-time series, 14-13-1...Penn State fell to 1-4 this season when its opponent scores first. It is 6-1 this season when scoring first...These two teams will not play each other in the final game of the season going forward with the expanded Big 10. MSU plays Northwestern to finish the 2011 season, while PSU plays Wisconsin.
11/27 18:52:41 ET