Saturday, October 22, 2011
Halftime: Michigan State 23, Wisconsin 14
By Adam Rittenberg
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Some quick thoughts from a wild first half at Spartan Stadium, where Michigan State scored 23 unanswered points after finding itself in an early hole ...
Turning point: Wisconsin led 14-0 and had the ball late in the first quarter when Michigan State safety Trenton Robinson picked off a Russell Wilson pass intended for Nick Toon, who never turned around for the ball. Although the takeaway didn't directly lead to points, it changed field position and helped Michigan State record its safety. The Spartans grabbed momentum and never looked back.
Best player in the half: Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins. The Spartans senior is outplaying the Heisman Trophy candidate on the other side so far tonight. Cousins completed 8 of 10 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown to B.J. Cunningham. Spartans linebacker Denicos Allen also deserves a mention for pressuring Wilson.
What Michigan State needs to do: Continue to challenge Wisconsin's defense down the field. Offensive coordinator Dan Roushar called a terrific second quarter, and he's using big-play weapons like Cunningham and Keshawn Martin. Defensively, the Spartans settled down late in the half, but must shore up the middle against Montee Ball, who has 68 yards on 13 carries. Michigan State has been spectacular on special teams and must continue to make plays in the kicking game.
What Wisconsin needs to do: Settle down, for starters. The Badgers melted down in the second quarter after a terrific start and must catch their breathe. Special-teams breakdowns have killed Bret Bielema's team, especially the blocked punt late in the half that Michigan State recovered in the end zone. Wilson needs to elevate his play, especially if Ball can't return after leaving in the second quarter. The defense must start pressuring Cousins, who has had a ton of time to throw downfield.