Saturday, December 3, 2011
Final: Wisconsin 42, Michigan State 39
INDIANAPOLIS -- The first Big Ten championship game was an exciting, memorable event. Especially for Wisconsin fans.
Despite getting outgained and often outplayed by Michigan State, the Badgers pulled out a 42-39 win to avenge an earlier loss this season and clinch a bid to the Rose Bowl for the second straight season.
Two key plays made the difference.
The Badgers faced a fourth and seven with 4:44 left, and quarterback Russell Wilson was under heavy pressure when he chucked it downfield to a well-covered Jeff Duckworth, just hoping something good would happen. It did, in the form of a 36-yard completion that might have been karmic payback for the Hail Mary on Oct. 22.
Montee Ball would go in for the touchdown -- his 38th on the year, one behind Barry Sanders' record -- and Wisconsin converted the two-point play as Wilson again scrambled before finding Jacob Pedersen in the end zone for an improbable 42-39 lead.
Michigan State went three and out and punted, then forced a Wisconsin punt with fewer than two minutes to go. But Isaiah Lewis was flagged for running into the punter, giving the Badgers a first down and effectively ending the game in heartbreaking fashion for the Spartans, whose Rose Bowl drought will now head into its 25th year.
Much, much more to come on this crazy game after postgame interviews ...