College Football: A Sparty shocker for Wisconsin

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 23, 2011

Associated Press
EAST LANSING, Mich. — A heave. A carom. A desperate struggle for the last few inches.
And after further review, another extraordinary final play by Michigan State.
The team that shook up the 2010 season with an overtime fake field goal came up with another astonishing way to win Saturday night. Keith Nichol caught a 44-yard pass from Kirk Cousins on the game’s last snap for a tiebreaking touchdown, giving the 15th-ranked Spartans a 37-31 victory against No. 4 Wisconsin.
“We knew we had a chance,” Cousins said. “There’s always a chance.”
Nichol scored into the same side of the same end zone as Michigan State’s winning touchdown against Notre Dame last year, which came on that fake kick in overtime in another memorable night game at Spartan Stadium.
That play was called Little Giants. This one was Rocket — and the Spartans were sky high when it actually worked.
With 4 seconds left, Cousins rolled out to his right and threw the ball about as far as he could. It went into the end zone but caromed off Michigan State receiver B.J. Cunningham’s facemask back to Nichol, who caught it just outside the end zone, then fought two Wisconsin defenders and just barely broke the goal line.
The former backup quarterback was initially ruled short of the end zone, but officials overturned the call after a review, giving the Spartans (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) the win and knocking the Badgers (6-1, 2-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten.
“It was just a feeling that I went across the line for a second. I had the ball in my upfield shoulder, and there was no way I felt I could’ve been denied,” Nichol said. “I don’t think anybody coming out of high school when they’re a quarterback envisions winning the game as a wide receiver.”
Russell Wilson had led the Badgers from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to tie the game with 1:26 left on a 2-yard touchdown pass to Montee Ball.
The wild game — in which both teams blew two-touchdown leads — featured an even more memorable finish. Wisconsin trailed 31-17 in the fourth quarter before Wilson ran 22 yards for a touchdown and made several spectacular throws on the move to set up the TD pass to Ball to tie it at 31.