Michigan St holds off No. 11 Northwestern for a 29-20 win

Michigan St holds off No. 11 Northwestern for a 29-20 win

Matt Coghlin made a tiebreaking 48-yard field goal with 3:35 left, and Michigan State handed No. 11 Northwestern its first loss of the season with a 29-20 victory Saturday.

The Wildcats (5-1, 5-1) were coming off a 17-7 victory over Wisconsin that put them in contention for a spot in the College Football Playoff. That prospect likely was dashed with the loss to the Spartans, but they remain in control of the Big Ten West.

The Spartans (2-3, 2-3) lost a 17-0 lead, but went back ahead by forcing three turnovers in the fourth quarter and making the most of two big kicks by Coghlin.

Northwestern grabbed a 20-17 lead early in the fourth on Cam Porter’s 3-yard run.

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The Spartans rallied on Coghlin’s 44-yard field goal after forcing a turnover one snap following Rocky Lombardi’s interception.

Northwestern turned the ball over again, and receiver Berkeley Holman was carted off the field following the play.

Shakur Brown broke on Peyton Ramsey’s pass and made contact with Holman, who lay motionless on the field while the school’s medical staff evaluated him.

Holman was carefully strapped to a backboard and lifted onto a cart. After Holman’s teammates surrounded him to offer support, he lifted his left arm and extended his thumb.

The Wildcats punted on their next possession, facing a fourth-and-10 from their 22, with a few minutes left.

Lombardi converted a third-and-8 from his 38 with a run after Northwestern called a timeout, taking time off the clock until punting from midfield with 32 seconds left.

The Wildcats ended the game by throwing laterals from deep in their end, trying to extend the play as time expired, only to have the Spartans recover the ball in the end zone for a touchdown at a fan-free game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Northwestern will slip quite a bit after reaching its highest AP ranking since 1996.

THE TAKEAWAY

Northwestern: Good fortune ran out for a team that had a feel-good story as a surprising contender that won a lot of close games.

Michigan State: First-year coach Mel Tucker has a second significant win to go along with a victory over rival Michigan.

UP NEXT

Northwestern plays at Minnesota on Saturday.

Michigan State hosts No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday, assuming the Buckeyes are cleared to play after they cancelled Saturday’s game against Illinois due to a COVID-19 breakout within their program.

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