for this game

Badgers avenge MSU loss, capture Big Ten title

Dec 4, 2011 - 8:34 AM Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Once again, it came down to a desperate heave.

When Michigan State and Wisconsin met on October 22, Kirk Cousins' Hail Mary touchdown pass gave the Spartans a thrilling 37-31 victory and handed the Badgers their first loss of the season.

On Saturday, Wisconsin was in danger of falling again.

Instead, Russell Wilson unfurled a prayer on 4th-and-6 and Jeff Duckworth made a leaping 36-yard reception with 3:45 remaining. Montee Ball's seven-yard touchdown run on the ensuing play proved the game-winner, as No. 15 Wisconsin downed the No. 11 Michigan State, 42-39, in the inaugural Big Ten championship game.

Wilson threw for 187 yards and three touchdowns, while Ball ran for 137 yards and three scores for the Badgers (11-2), who captured their second consecutive conference crown and advanced to face Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

"To win the first ever Big Ten championship game is pretty awesome," Wilson said. "One hundred years from now, people will look back and wonder who won this game, and it's Wisconsin."

Cousins completed 22-of-30 passes for 281 yards and threw three touchdown passes to B.J. Cunningham for the Spartans (10-3).

With under two minutes remaining, Michigan State's Keshawn Martin returned a punt to the Wisconsin three-yard line, but it was negated due to a running into the kicker call on Isaiah Lewis.

The penalty extended the Wisconsin drive, allowing the Badgers to run out the clock and seal the win.

Ball scored on Wilson's shovel pass early in the fourth, but the Spartans answered with Dan Conroy's 25-yard field goal to take a 39-34 lead.

On their ensuing drive, the Badgers faced a 4th-and-6 on the MSU 43. Wilson bought time and heaved a high-arching pass across the field. Duckworth hauled in the ball amongst two defenders to extend the drive and set up Ball's score. A successful two-point conversion made it 42-39.

The Spartans were forced to punt on their next series. Their defense held, but Wisconsin punter Brad Nortman sprawled to the ground on Lewis' diving graze, sealing MSU's fate.

"There was no one play that lost this football game," Cousins said. "We don't feel like Isaiah needs to be singled out."

As with the October 22 matchup, the Badgers jumped out to an early lead when Duckworth had a three-yard touchdown reception on the game's opening drive.

The Spartans tied the game on their first series courtesy of Edwin Baker's eight-yard scoring run, but Ball answered with a consecutive six-yard rushing scores for a 21-7 advantage.

The game continued to follow a familiar pattern.

In the initial meeting, the Spartans scored 23 straight second-quarter points. On Saturday it was 22 and MSU held a 29-21 lead at the half.

The signature play of the quarter was made by Keith Nichol, who caught a pass in the flat, then lateraled to Cunningham as he was being pushed out of bounds. The senior wideout hopped into the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown.

Momentum in hand, Brad Sonntag executed a two-point conversion with a fake extra point attempt.

Cunningham also had a 30-yard touchdown grab during the quarter and Le'Veon Bell scored on a six-yard run.

Wilson found a wide-open Jared Abbrederis for a 42-yard strike early in the third to make it a 29-28 game. But Cunningham's 44-yard touchdown grab had the Spartans on top, 36-28, entering the final quarter.

Game Notes

Wisconsin has captured consecutive Big Ten titles for just the third time in school history. The Badgers also accomplished the feat in 1896-97 and 1998-99...This was the 51st meeting between the two teams. Michigan State leads the all-time series 29-22...The Spartans rushed for 190 yards. They had won their previous 25 games when rushing for at least 150 yards.