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Friday, October 16, 2009
MSU-NU series has entertainment value

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


The Michigan State-Northwestern series likely won't appear on any list of top Big Ten matchups, but lately it has produced plenty of exciting moments. As the Spartans and Wildcats prepare to meet Saturday at Spartan Stadium (ESPN2, noon ET), here's a look back at some of their entertaining matchups in recent years.

2007 (at East Lansing) -- The teams combined for 89 points, 49 first downs and 1,092 total yards as Northwestern won 48-41 in overtime. Wildcats quarterback C.J. Bacher passed for a school-record 520 yards, the fifth-best mark in Big Ten history. Michigan State's Javon Ringer ran for 185 yards and three touchdowns. The Spartans never led but rallied from six different 7-point deficits.

2006 (at Evanston) -- Michigan State completed the biggest comeback in NCAA history, rallying from a 38-3 deficit in the third quarter to win 41-38. The 35-point deficit was the largest overcome since Ohio State rallied from 31 points down against Minnesota in 1989. Michigan State's Drew Stanton passed for 294 yards and two touchdowns, while Bacher, making his first career start, tossed three touchdowns.

2001 (at Evanston) -- The teams combined to score 16 points in the final 29 seconds in one of the wildest endings you'll ever see. After a Charles Rogers punt return touchdown put Michigan State up 20-17, Northwestern scored on a 10-yard pass with 29 seconds left. But Michigan State's Herb Haygood returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards to the end zone. The extra-point attempt was blocked, Michigan State's second missed PAT of the day, but the Spartans held a 26-24 lead. Northwestern took over with 18 seconds left and hit on a Hail Mary to set up a 47-yard field goal attempt, which David Wasielewski drilled to give NU the 27-26 victory.

"For whatever reason, the games have been really great football games," Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "Some have ended up on our end, some have ended up on theirs. For both sides, they've been incredible games.