for this game

Michigan State stuns Wisconsin on late field goal by Swenson

Nov 2, 2008 - 12:54 AM EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- In recent years, November has been the cruelest month for Michigan State. But this season, the Spartans opened November with a thrilling victory.

Brett Swenson made two long field goals in the final 5:16, including a 44-yarder with eight seconds remaining, lifting No. 21 Michigan State to a 25-24 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday.

"I wasn't even really expecting for me to go out there for the field goal," said Swenson , who accounted for Michigan State's only offense in the first half with a pair of field goals. "I thought on fourth down we were going to go for it, but I rushed out there real quick and tried to relax a little a little bit. That was actually the same spot where I kicked from last weekend and I was coming up short."

Michigan State (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) kept alive its conference title hopes. If the Spartans beat Purdue next week, they will play at No. 3 Penn State on November 22 for at least a share of the Big Ten title.

"Brett Swenson had a tough game last week and he comes back and goes 4-for-4," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "He's maybe one of the greatest kickers that's ever gone through here with the ability to focus like that and kick it up there. It's exciting for us. I can't say it was a pretty game, but we just kept hanging around."

In 2005 and 2006, the Spartans lost all three November games as part of last-season collapses. Michigan State appeared headed for another disappointing November defeat Saturday that would have damaged its bid for a New Year's Day bowl game.

Through 3 1/2 quarters, not much was going right for Michigan State (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten), which couldn't stop the run, didn't get much from Javon Ringer and dropped seven passes.

The Badgers rushed for 281 yards, the most allowed by the Spartans this season. P.J. Hill and John Clay, who each rushed for more than 100 yards, ran for touchdowns in the second half, giving Wisconsin a 24-13 lead.

While Ringer did score two touchdowns, he was held to 54 yards - 117 below his average.

But Wisconsin began to self-destruct as the Spartans began their next possession on their 44-yard line following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Badgers.

Michigan State took advantage of the favorable field position, closing within 21-19 on Ringer's 2-yard TD run with 8:13 remaining. After the Spartans forced a three-and-out, Swenson's 50-yarder made it 24-22 with 5:16 left.

Wisconsin (4-5, 1-5), which has dropped five of its last six games, appeared ready to run out the clock, driving inside Michigan State's 30-yard-line on its next possession.

But the Badgers hurt themselves with three penalties and were forced to punt. Michigan State took over at its 18-yard-line with 79 seconds remaining and no timeouts.

"We practice the two-minute offensive drill all the time in practice, so it was fitting we had to use it out there today," Michigan State receiver Myles White said. "We did well with it, and things went our way toward the end, and it feels great to get the win today."

Still, the seventh dropped pass appeared to be a critical one as a wide-open Chris Rucker bobbled the ball inside the 35-yard line on a 2nd-and-10 toss from the Wisconsin 37. But Brian Hoyer, who completed 19-of-44 for 252 yards, came back with a 32-yard completion to White on the next play.

"I knew we were going to win," Hoyer said. "I asked Swenson before the drive, 'What yard-line do you need?' And he said, 'The 33.' After that pass I threw to (White) looked down and I saw we were on the 30, and I told myself , 'Just don't mess it up, I know Swenson will make it.'"

After a 3-yard completion to B.J. Cunningham on 3rd-and-10, the Spartans had to scramble to get their field goal team on the field. However, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema may have done Michigan State a favor by calling a timeout with 12 seconds left.

Bielema called a second timeout to ice Swenson, but it didn't work as the kicker split the uprights.

Dustin Sherer completed 14-of-28 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown for Wisconsin, which is now in danger of its first losing season since 2001.