INDIANAPOLIS – This time, Wisconsin got the stop it needed against Michigan State – and a big break to wrap up its second straight Big Ten crown.
Montee Ball scored four touchdowns, including a 7-yard score with 3:45 left in Saturday night’s inaugural conference championship game, giving the 15th-ranked Badgers a 42-39 come-from-behind victory over No. 11 Michigan State.
Wisconsin (11-2) now heads to the Rose Bowl where it will face Pac-12 champion Oregon on Jan. 2.
The Badgers turned the tables on Michigan State (10-3), which won the first meeting in October on a last-second Hail Mary pass.
On Saturday, it was the Badgers who scored late, forced a punt and managed to run out the clock when the Isaiah Lewis was called for running into the kicker, giving the Badgers a first down with 1:37 left in the game and Michigan State out of timeouts.
Ball was spectacular early, topping 100 yards in the first quarter, and efficient late, scoring twice in the fourth quarter to rally the Badgers. His 38 TDs scored this season are one short of Barry Sanders’ FBS mark (39).
But Russell Wilson was named the game’s MVP after going 17 of 24 for 187 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Wilson also broke an NCAA record by throwing a TD pass on the Badgers’ opening possession, giving him 37 consecutive games with a TD pass, one more than Graham Harrell’s previous mark at Texas Tech.
The loss ruined a pregame prediction by Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio that his team would win and earn the Rose Bowl bid.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. Dantonio’s team ran a fourth-down pass play, called a fake extra point and even got an impromptu lateral for a score – just in the first half.
Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins was 22 of 30 passing for 281 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and only one of his 17 first-half passes hit the ground.
Michigan State’s Keshawn Martin had a career high nine receptions for 115 yards, the second 100-yard game of his career. Teammate B.J. Cunningham added five catches for 115 yards and three touchdowns and added a 24-yard rush for the Spartans.