Game Takeaways From The Wisconsin Badgers at Michigan State

Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Game Takeaways From The Wisconsin Badgers at Michigan State

Football

Game Takeaways From The Wisconsin Badgers at Michigan State

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Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Michigan State entered Saturday’s game against the Wisconsin Badgers in desperate need of a win in the Big Ten. In dramatic fashion, they got that win 34-28 in overtime. Wisconsin will now limp back to Madison having snatched defeat away from the jaws of victory and a date next week with Purdue at Camp Randall. Meanwhile for Sparty, they are finally off the schneid with a bye in week eight before going to Ann Arbor for a game against Big Ten powerhouse Michigan.

Jim Leonard’s job just got harder

A week of relief and optimism lasted just that: a week. Looking ahead to a home game against Purdue will entail Leonard and the Badgers coaching staff to keep a fragile and snake-bit team together. Wisconsin looked like an unfolded lawn chair, disjointed and undisciplined. 

Quarterback Graham Mertz came back to earth after a career day against Northwestern. Mertz completed 14 of 25 passes for 131 yards. He had two touchdowns and one interception, against a Spartans defense that had been allowing a whopping 292.0 passing yards per game and given up 14 touchdown passes. For his part, Braelon Allen turned in a workman like afternoon, rushing for 123 yards on 29 carries plus two touchdowns. His one fumble was his sole blemish on an otherwise good afternoon.

Sparty finally wins a Big Ten Game

It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t need to be. With a conference win finally in the books, Michigan State can focus on what comes next without an anchor named losing around its neck. The Spartans earned this win. They took advantage of a sloppy Wisconsin team who looked less and less confident as the game wore on. In overtime, they did what was needed to give themselves a chance. They didn’t turn the ball over, but instead, made the big plays to establish momentum, and get the win. Quarterback Payton Thorne had a solid effort. He threw for 265 yards completing 21 passes on 28 attempts. Running back Jalen Berger, a Badgers castoff, carried the ball 16 times for 59 yards and one touchdown. From a turnover standpoint, it was an absolute clean day for Sparty.

UW letting Sparty hang around too long

There is no moral victory today for the Wisconsin Badgers. The overtime loss at Michigan State will be a fixture in their collective psyche. The upside is they are playing the Boilermakers in the friendly confines of Camp Randall next week. For the Spartans, a win in overtime will be something to build some much needed momentum. They know it will be an uphill battle against the Wolverines, but the bye week will let them catch their breath and focus on the next big task at hand: winning another game in the rough Big Ten.

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