EAST LANSING, Mich. - Northwestern 23, Michigan State 20: David Nwabuisi returned an interception for a touchdown and Jeff Budzien kicked a go-ahead field goal midway through the fourth quarter as the visiting Wildcats ended a four-game losing streak to the Spartans.
One week after a last-second loss to Michigan cost it a shot at a Big Ten title, Northwestern (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten) defeated Michigan State despite being dominated in most statistical categories. The Wildcats were outgained by 116 yards (419-303), lost the time of possession battle (34:19-25:41) and were outrushed by a 122-57 margin.
It was more of the same for the Spartans (5-6, 2-5), who have lost five conference games by a total of 13 points.
After Michigan State tied it at 20-20 on Andrew Maxwell's 6-yard touchdown pass to Tony Lippett with 9:22 to play, Budzien's third field goal - a 27-yarder - gave the Wildcats a 23-20 lead with 7:30 remaining. The Michigan State defense forced Northwestern to punt with less than two minutes left, but the Spartans turned the ball over on downs when Dion Sims dropped a pass on fourth-and-10.
Maxwell finished 22-of-46 for 297 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Spartans, who need to defeat Minnesota next week to become bowl eligible in a season which began with Big Ten title aspirations.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Northwestern's defense threw Le'Veon Bell for a three-yard loss on fourth-and-goal late in the first half, keeping the Spartans' lead at 5-3. ... Kain Colter started the game and was 13-of-20 for 81 yards before Trevor Siemian entered late in the half. ... Bell managed just 2.9 yards per carry in the first half (18 carries for 52 yards).