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Michigan State defeats Wisconsin 34-28 in double overtime, ends four-game losing streak

In a thriller, the Spartans got a much-needed win during homecoming weekend.

Wisconsin v Michigan State Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Michigan State hosted Wisconsin for the program’s 106th Homecoming game, and the Spartans defeated the Badgers in double overtime by a final score of 34-28.

Michigan State ended its four-game losing streak with the victory, and also picked up its first Big Ten win of the 2022 season. MSU moves to 3-4 on the season, and 1-3 in conference play, while Wisconsin falls to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the Big Ten.

Michigan State received the ball to begin the game, but immediately went three-and-out. Punter Bryce Baringer sent the ball away to Wisconsin and the Badgers took over at their own 37-yard-line.

Wisconsin proceeded to drive 63 yards in 11 plays, as Michigan State’s defense gave up an opening drive touchdown to the opposition for the fifth-straight game. The possession ended on a one-yard touchdown run by running back Braelon Allen, and the Badgers quickly grabbed the 7-0 lead.

On Michigan State’s next possession, the Spartans drove all the way down to the Badgers’ goal line. Quarterback Payton Thorne hit wide receiver Jayden Reed for a 28-yard pass during the drive to help move the ball. However, MSU would eventually come up short, as the Spartans turned the ball over on downs after running back Elijah Collins was stuffed by the Wisconsin defensive front on fourth down.

Two plays later, though, the Michigan State defense made a huge play. Linebacker/defensive end Jacoby Windmon read the play perfectly and intercepted Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz.

The Spartans took advantage from there, as running back Jalen Berger — playing against his former team — eventually ran in a 12-yard touchdown. The game was tied at 7-7 late in the first quarter.

Wisconsin would score to open up the second quarter, however. The Badgers’ nine-play, 75-yard drive was capped off by another one-yard touchdown plunge by Allen, which put UW up 14-7.

The 14-7 score would hold through the end of the second quarter with the Badgers taking the advantage into the locker room. Penalties plagued Michigan State in the first half. The Spartans accumulated six penalties for 67 yards, including a targeting call on defensive end Michael Fletcher in the second quarter. Fletcher was disqualified from the game.

A huge penalty also wiped out a big play for Michigan State to begin the second half. After Michigan State forced Wisconsin to go three-and-out on the Badgers’ opening possession of the third quarter — thanks in part to a sack from cornerback Charles Brantley — Jayden Reed fielded a punt and brought it all the way into the end zone. However, true freshman wide receiver Germie Bernard was called for an illegal block, which wiped the touchdown off of the board.

Following the penalty call, Michigan State was forced to punt once again. Wisconsin got the ball back, but was eventually forced to punt as well. UW punter Andy Vujnovich pinned MSU at its own 3-yard line.

However, the long field didn’t deter the Spartans. Michigan State put together its longest drive of the season, moving 97 yards in eight plays. The possession also included MSU’s longest play of the season, as Thorne connected with tight end Maliq Carr on a 72-yard pass play.

Four plays after Carr’s catch, Collins scored from one yard out. Late in the third quarter, Michigan State tied Wisconsin at 14 apiece.

The two teams then traded a couple of punts before the next score. Michigan State took over with 9:54 remaining in regulation and drove 65 yards in six plays. The Spartans went for it on fourth-down-and-4 at Wisconsin’s 44-yard line. Thorne’s pass to Reed fell incomplete, but the Badgers were called for pass interference, which set up the Spartans at Wisconsin’s 29-yard line.

Two plays later, wide receiver Keon Coleman made a nice adjustment on a good throw from Thorne, as the two hooked up for a 27-yard touchdown. The Spartans took a 21-14 lead with 7:23 remaining in regulation.

Things got wild from there. Wisconsin took over the ball with 7:15 remaining in the fourth quarter after a 45-yard kick return by Isaac Guerendo.

The Badgers then drove 52 yards on nine plays to tie the game. On fourth-and-goal from MSU’s 3-yard line, Mertz hit wide receiver Keontez Lewis in the end zone. Following the extra point, the game was knotted up at 21-21.

The Spartans received the ball back with 1:55 to go in the fourth quarter, and had an opportunity to win in regulation. Michigan State actually got to Wisconsin’s 28-yard line. However, questionable play-calling on third-and-2 with 27 seconds left in regulation had Thorne throw a pass behind the line of scrimmage to Jayden Reed on the right side of the formation. The play lost a yard and kept the clock running.

Michigan State had to quickly force the field goal unit onto the field with time winding down, and kicker Ben Patton didn’t even get a chance to kick the 46-yard attempt as the snap was botched.

The game went into overtime.

Wisconsin won the coin toss and decided to go on defense first, as most college football teams choose to do in overtime. Michigan State offensive coordinator Jay Johnson and head coach Mel Tucker dialed up the trick play on the first play of the extra period, as Reed took an end-around and threw the ball to Coleman. It was a wobbly pass from Reed, but that was bailed out by a really athletic play from Coleman, who went up and snagged it away from Wisconsin’s defensive back.

On Wisconsin’s first play of overtime, Mertz’s pass was nearly intercepted by both safety Angelo Grose and Brantley, but neither could reel it in to end the game. Two plays later, Mertz found Chimere Dike for a 25-yard score to extend the game (the extra point was good).

The two teams then entered double overtime, with Wisconsin getting the opening possession of the period. However, disaster happened for the Badgers, as Michigan State’s Windmon forced Wisconsin’s Allen to fumble on the first play of the second overtime session. The ball was recovered by MSU defensive tackle Dashaun Mallory.

All Michigan State needed to win was a field goal. But with a shaky kicking game, the Spartans went for a deep shot on third-and-12 from Wisconsin’s 27-yard line. With Reed in one-one coverage, the result was a perfect throw by Thorne and a magnificent catch by Reed for a touchdown.

Michigan State won the game by a final score of 34-28.

Michigan State got some much needed help back on the defensive side of the ball in this game, as safety Xavier Henderson (who hadn’t played since the season opener versus Western Michigan) and defensive tackle Jacob Slade (who hadn’t played since the second game versus Akron) returned to action. However, safeties Kendell Brooks and Jaden Mangham, defensive ends Jeff Pietrowski and Khris Bogle, cornerback Marqui Lowery Jr., and others missed the contest.

The Michigan State defense had a much better showing in this game, as it forced two turnovers, recorded three sacks and allowed only 131 passing yards. Overall, the Spartans out-gained the Badgers in total yardage 389-283. Penalties were an issue for MSU, as the team finished the game with nine for 102 yards, compared to eight for 72 yards for UW.

Thorne completed 21 of 29 passes (72.4 percent) for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Berger led the Spartans in rushing with 59 yards on 16 carries (3.7 yards per carry), while Collins added 43 rushing yards on 14 carries (3.1 yards per carry), with both running backs finding the end zone. Reed led the way in receiving with nine catches for 117 yards and a touchdown, while Coleman had five catches for 79 yards and two scores.

Windmon — who moved back to linebacker for this game and was also still used as a third-down edge rusher — led the Spartans in tackles with 11. Brantley, defensive end Brandon Wright and defensive tackle Simeon Barrow Jr. each recorded a sack.

Michigan State will have a bye week next week before heading to Ann Arbor for a matchup with the rival Michigan Wolverines on Oct. 29.