Tempe, AZ – Senior kicker Dan Conroy made a 47-yard field goal with just over a minute remaining to lift the Michigan State Spartans over the TCU Horned Frogs, 17-16, in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Connor Cook completed 4-of-11 passes for 47 yards and a touchdown for the Spartans (7-6), who improved to 9-14 in bowl games. Andrew Maxwell connected on 6-of-15 passes for 28 yards.
Le'Veon Bell carried the ball 32 times for 145 yards and a score for the victors.
"It felt great to actually get a win like this," Bell said. "Actually coming down to a kick. Conroy is getting lined up, everybody is confident he's going to make it. He's done it so many times in practice. Practice is nothing like the game. He's a clutch player and he came through in the clutch for us."
Trevone Boykin completed 13-of-29 passes for 201 yards and an interception for the Horned Frogs (7-6), who were trying for their third straight win in a bowl game.
Josh Boyce hauled in five passes for 91 yards to break Kelly Blackwell's TCU single-season record of 64 receptions. Boyce ended with 66 receptions this season.
Trailing by two, 16-14, the Spartans started at their own 25 with 2:42 to play. Cook started the drive with passes of 12 and 14 yards to Bell and Dion Sims, respectively. On 3rd-and-7, Michigan State was awarded a fresh set of downs due to a holding penalty on TCU. An incomplete pass and two runs by Bell set up 4th-and-3 from the 30 of the Horned Frogs. Conroy came onto the field and made the game-winning field goal with 1:01 left.
Michigan State's defense held strong to preserve the victory.
"You know, what I thought happened in the fourth quarter, I thought Michigan State turned up the heat and I didn't think we answered it. Plain and simple," TCU head coach Gary Patterson said.
TCU scored a touchdown on its second possession of the game. A defensive pass interference penalty on third down put the Horned Frogs near midfield. Boykin and Matthew Tucker followed with runs of 19 and 12 yards, respectively. Boykin added a 13-yard run before Tucker found the end zone from four yards out with 5:45 left.
Jaden Oberkrom made field goals of 47 and 31 yards early in the second stanza to make it 13-0.
Michigan State finally got on the board late in the third period. The Spartans completed just two passes during a 14-play, 90-yard drive. Bell and Cook used their legs to set up the ball at the TCU 45. On 3rd-and-2, Bell took the snap out of the jumbo formation and threw a 29-yard pass to TyQuan Hammock. Three plays later on 3rd-and-9, Cook hooked up with Aaron Burbridge for a 15-yard score to cut the gap to 13-7 with 34 seconds remaining.
Early in the fourth quarter, a special teams mistake by TCU led to Michigan State's next touchdown. Skye Dawson fumbled a punt and the Spartans recovered the ball at the 4-yard line. Bell found an opening on the left side and jogged into the end zone for a 14-13 Michigan State lead with seven minutes left.
Following a pair of punts, TCU took over at its own 36. LaDarius Brown hauled in a 27-yard pass to move the ball to the Michigan State 32. The offense stalled from there and Oberkrom snuck a 53-yard field goal inside the left upright, giving the Horned Frogs a 16-14 lead with 2:42 to go.
Saturday's game marked just the second meeting between the programs, with MSU posting a 26-19 victory in the first battle at Spartan Stadium way back in 1953 ... The Horned Frogs played in a bowl game for a school record eighth consecutive season ... Boykin carried the ball 13 times for 37 yards.