Michigan State can finally breathe. They have done what many have deemed impossible for them to do this season: win a close game.
The Spartans beat the Wisconsin Badgers in another thriller in a long series of great games between the two schools. This one was decided in overtime and the rivalry continues to impress. This is Michigan State’s first victory in Madison since 2001 and they have beaten the Badgers in each of the past three seasons.
The score was 10-3 in the fourth quarter and it looked like the Badgers would close the door on the Spartans and their anemic offense.
That, however, was not the case as Andrew Maxwell engineered a two-minute offense and led the Spartans into the endzone with a five-yard shovel-pass to running back Le’Veon Bell with just over a minute left.
The Spartans went on to win in overtime on a 12-yard back-shoulder toss to Bennie Fowler, improving their record to 5-4 and 2-3 in Big Ten play. Their bowl chances are looking great right now as they are just one win away from bowl eligibility.
They overcame adversity and they did it at the perfect time. There were doubts as to whether they would break the six-win mark and make it to their sixth straight bowl game of the year. Many people, including myself, picked against Michigan State in this game because of a lack of offense and Wisconsin’s recent offensive surge.
They are now in control of their own destiny and need just one win in their final three games, two of which are at home, to make their sixth straight bowl game under Mark Dantonio.
Another promising thing to take away from this game: Maxwell’s sense of urgency. This was something that seemed to be lacking in his previous close games against Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan, losing by a combined six points. Yes, six points– this team is six points away from being 8-1 as opposed to 5-4.
In a game where Bell couldn’t get anything going on the ground, Maxwell stepped up and delivered when it mattered most.
There’s no doubt that we could see a leader in the making, but how long will it take for him to emerge as the team’s first-in-command? If the predecessor is any indication of things to come, Maxwell will follow Kirk Cousins‘ footsteps and become one of the great quarterbacks in his final seasons as a Spartan.