Two big games in the Big Ten today.
No. 7 Michigan State, down 17-0 at one point against Northwestern, rallied for a 35-27 win, keeping its unbeaten season alive and a shot at the Big Ten championship.
The Spartans were trailing by 10 early in the fourth quarter (24-14). Facing a fourth-and-11 at Northwestern's 36, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio, back on the sidelines today, called for a fake punt and it worked. Aaron Bates hit Bennie Fowler for a 21-yard gain and sparked the Spartans. Michigan State finished the drive with Kirk Cousins hitting Mark Dell with a15-yard pass.
Remember, Dantonio called for the fake field goal in overtime to beat Notre Dame earlier this season.
Northwestern would go up 27-21, but Cousins hit B.J. Cunningham with two minutes to go and Edwin Baker scored on a 25-yard run with 1:07 to go.
Cousins played another solid game, passing for a season-high 331 yards and three touchdowns.
Michigan State is the only unbeaten team remaining in the Big Ten. The Spartans do not play Ohio State this season and have already beaten Wisconsin. But one big roadblock remains. Michigan State must go to Iowa City next week to play Iowa. After that, it's home for Purdue and Minnesota before finishing the season at Penn State. Next week's game at Iowa will determine plenty in terms of which team claims the Big Ten title.
Speaking of Iowa, the No. 15 Hawkeyes fell at home to No. 13 Wisconsin 31-30.
Much like Dantonio, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema used a trick to win the game.
Facing fourth down on his own 26 and trailing 30-24, Bielema called for a fake punt and punter Brad Nortman ran 17 yards up the middle to keep Wisconsin alive. Montee Ball would end the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run with 1:06 to go.
Iowa was driving for a potential game-winning field goal, but the Hawkeyes ran out of time when Ricky Stanzi hit Adam Robinson and Robinson failed to get out of bounds, burning the final seconds off the clock. Iowa has called its last time out on the previous play.
Fresh off the upset over then-No. 1 Ohio State, Wisconsin got its second straight big win. The Badgers, however, will need some help in the Big Ten. The Badgers have already lost to unbeaten Michigan State. However, the Spartans must go to Iowa City next week to play the Hawkeyes. Iowa also hosts Ohio State later this season.
One way or another, the Big Ten title is going through Iowa City.