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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Fake Punt Helps Michigan State Avoid the Northwestern Upset

Michigan State entered Saturday’s game at Northwestern ranked 7th in the BCS Standings and first in the Big Ten with a 7-0 record. They had beaten Notre Dame on a crazy fake, taken down Wisconsin at home, and they pummeled Michigan on the road. With a big challenge at Iowa looming, Saturday at Evanston seemed like a trap game for the Spartans.

It certainly turned out that way, yet Michigan State prevailed with an impressive comeback.

The Spartans came back from down 17-0 in the second quarter to win 35-27. They caught a nice break early in the game when Northwestern lost a fumble at the Michigan State one-yard line on its third possession. Kirk Cousins threw a touchdown pass before halftime to get them on the board and they went into the half down 17-7. In the second half, Michigan State’s offense really came alive.

Bennie Fowler
scored on a reverse to pull the Spartans within three, but then they allowed another touchdown going down by 10. Michigan State reached into its bag of tricks again and ran a fake punt to convert a 4th down in Northwestern territory and they scored a touchdown right after that. Yet again, a fake on a special teams play gave them a huge lift. From there, Michigan State’s defense got stops (including a pick to seal the game), and the offense scored two more touchdowns to win it.

Michigan State isn’t blowing teams away and reminds me a lot of Iowa last year in terms of the way they’ve won games. It hasn’t always been pretty, but they keep coming out on top. Now they can turn their full attention to the Hawkeyes.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

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