12:00 PM ET, November 27, 2010
Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
Michigan State earns share of Big Ten title for first time since 1990
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Michigan State marched off the field toward their sliver of boisterous, green-clad fans savoring a memorable trip to chilly Happy Valley.
The Spartans (No. 10 BCS, No. 11 AP) were headed home with a share of their first Big Ten title for the first time in two decades.
Edwin Baker ran for 118 yards and a touchdown, quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 152 yards and two touchdowns to B.J. Cunningham, and the defense held off a fourth-quarter charge by penalty-prone Penn State for a 28-22 win at blustery Beaver Stadium.
"We're Big Ten champions. No one can ever take it away from us," Cousins said. "It's going on the wall at Spartan Stadium."
A rally was scheduled Saturday night at the Breslin Center in East Lansing to welcome the team home after the momentous victory, though the Spartans still have to wait and see whether it's good enough for the Rose Bowl.
No. 8 Ohio State beat Michigan on Saturday, while Wisconsin (No. 7 BCS, No. 5 AP) routed Northwestern. If all three teams finish with one loss, the Bowl Championship Series standings would break the tie, and the Spartans came into the week trailing their Big Ten rivals in those rankings.
Stoic as ever, coach Mark Dantonio put the spotlight on the hard-earned conference title.
"Our goal was to win the championship. That's our No. 1 goal," he said. "Where people place us from there, we'll still go to whatever bowl we go to as Big Ten champions."
The Spartans won in Happy Valley for the first time since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993. Here's how Saturday compared to the past eight games in State College.
|Last 8 Games||Saturday|
Penn State scored 19 fourth-quarter points, and fans had dreams of an unlikely comeback after Matt McGloin found Derek Moye for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 56 seconds left. Michigan State recovered the ensuing onsides kick to finally seal the win after leading 14-3 at halftime.
"We've got to learn to play a full game," McGloin said. "Today we came out flat, and we ended up" playing well. McGloin finished 23 of 43 passing for 312 yards with two fourth-quarter touchdowns and an interception.
Following an uneven start, he did become the first player in program history with back-to-back 300-yard passing games. He also connected with fullback Joe Suhey for a 25-yard touchdown pass that featured two missed two-point conversion tries.
"I thought we played very, very well until the end of the game," Dantonio said. "We could've ended it easily at 28-10, but we'll take it."
Bowl questions aside, Dantonio can relish an 11-win season and the end of an eight-game road losing streak to Penn State for its first win in Happy Valley since 1965 -- the year before Joe Paterno took over as head coach.
Penn State managed just a 34-yard field in the first half against a Spartans defense that gave up 85 yards and a touchdown to Evan Royster. Penalty flags sapped momentum, too, for the Nittany Lions, especially in a choppy first half that left them playing catch-up.
• Michigan State set a school record with its 11th win of the season and clinched a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 1990.
• The Spartans snapped an eight-game losing streak in road games against Penn State, winning in Happy Valley for the first time since 1965 -- the year before Joe Paterno took over.
• Penn State fell to 7-5, its most losses in a season since 2004 (4-7).
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"I don't know if it cost us the game, but it sure had an impact on it," Paterno said. "But you know, every time we complain about something like that, it takes something away from the other [team]. I think Michigan State is a good, solid football team."
Jerel Worthy's sack of McGloin helped stop one early third-quarter drive, and Penn State followed with another three-and-out deep in its own territory and punted back to the Michigan State 48. Cousins followed with a six-play, 52-yard drive capped by his second touchdown pass to Cunningham for an 18-point lead.
The left shoulder and left ankle injuries that had Cousins hobbling off the field after last week's win over Purdue weren't bothering him Saturday. He finished 17 of 22 passing.
In 2008, the Spartans watched while Penn State players danced around the Beaver Stadium field with roses in their mouths after a 49-18 rout sent the Nittany Lions to the Rose Bowl. This time, it was Michigan State savoring a season-ending victory for a title.
The young Nittany Lions, who start eight seniors, were uncharacteristically undisciplined with eight penalties for 67 yards. They had averaged an FBS-best 28 penalty yards per game.
The opening drive set the tone after Baker opened with a 16-yard rush, and a third-and-4 at the Spartans 49 turned into a first down on the Penn State 35 after defensive tackle Devon Still was called for a late hit on Cousins.
Baker carried five of the next six plays, capped by his 7-yard dash into the left front pylon of the end zone for a 7-0 lead in a score upheld by replay review.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Michigan State recovered an onside kick with under a minute left to end Penn State's rally.
Gameball goes to... Edwin Baker. The Spartans running back carried the ball 28 times for 118 yards and a TD.
Stat of the game... 11. Michigan State established a school single-season record by picking up its 11th win.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-11||6-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-1|
|TD||10:10||Edwin Baker 7 Yd Run (Dan Conroy Kick)||7||0|
|FG||05:57||Collin Wagner 34 Yd||7||3|
|TD||10:29||B.J. Cunningham 8 Yd Pass From Kirk Cousins (Dan Conroy Kick)||14||3|
|TD||01:43||B.J. Cunningham 24 Yd Pass From Kirk Cousins (Dan Conroy Kick)||21||3|
|TD||13:58||Joe Suhey 25 Yd Pass From Matthew McGloin (Collin Wagner Kick)||21||10|
|TD||08:31||Charlie Gantt 3 Yd Pass From Keith Nichol (Dan Conroy Kick)||28||10|
|TD||05:51||Evan Royster 10 Yd Run (Two-Point Pass Conversion Failed)||28||16|
|TD||00:56||Derek Moye 4 Yd Pass From Matthew McGloin (Two-Point Pass Conversion Failed)||28||22|