This was the 51st meeting between Northwestern and Michigan State. Since 2005, the visiting team has won five of the last six games.
NU lost its first game following a Big Ten loss (20-17 to Purdue two weeks ago) since Nov. 3, 2007. During that span, Northwestern is now 8-1 in Big Ten play following a defeat and 10-2 overall.
Northwestern has now scored in double figures in 41 consecutive games.
Northwestern's attendance figure for this game, 41,115, improved its season attendance total 130,508 for a four-game average of 32,627. That four-game average is 63.0 percent higher than the average of last year's first four home games.
Northwestern's string of games with at least one interception came to an end at 10.
Northwestern converted on 8-of-16 third-down conversions to keep its season percentage at 50 percent (53-of-106). NU came into the game ranked 12th nationally in third-down conversion percentage.
Continuing their first- and third-quarter domination this season, the Wildcats have outscored their foes 61-16 in the first quarter and 51-19 in the third. NU outpointed MSU 7-0 in the first quarter, while the third quarter was a 7-7 draw.
Northwestern has scored first in all seven games this year.
NU, the Big Ten leader in most offensive plays per game, ran 77 against Michigan State to up its season average to 76.0 per game.
Entering the game, Northwestern had totaled just two rushing plays of 20 yards or more in its first six games. On its second TD drive of the second quarter, NU had two 20-plus runs: a 29-yard run by receiver Venric Mark and a 22-yard romp by Dan Persa.
Northwestern outgained Michigan State, the nation's 26th-best rushing offense, 170 to 105 yards on the ground. It was the first time since the 2008 season (Nov. 22 vs. Illinois) that NU had failed to win a game when outrushing its opponent. NU had won its last 10 games when totaling more rushing yards.
QB Dan Persa completed just 18-of-29 passes for 187 yards. His 62.1 completion percentage marked the first time this year that he had not completed 73 percent or more of his passes in a game. He came into the game leading all Division I (FBS and FCS) players in completion percentage. Despite eight sacks (for a loss of 35 yards), Persa finished the game with 46 net rushing yards. That gave him 233 yards of total offense. Persa is now completing 75.7 percent (156-of-206) of his passes for the season.
Persa's three rushing touchdowns were a single-game career best. He now leads the team with six rushing TD's this season. His three rushing TD's are the most in a game by an NU quarterback since Zak Kustok had three against Penn State on Oct. 20, 2001. Kustok ran the ball 21 times for 115 yards that day against the Nittany Lions. The last NU player to score three TD's on the ground was Tyrell Sutton (vs. Southern Illinois) on Sept. 13, 2008.
Senior WR Sidney Stewart led NU in receiving with six catches for 82 yards, both season bests. Ironically, MSU's Mark Dell, Stewart's prep teammate at Farmington Harrison High School in Farmington Hills, Mich., was the Spartans' leading receiver today with nine catches for 107 yards and 2 TD's.
True freshman WR Rashad Lawrence finished the game with four receptions for 67 yards, both single-game career bests. His 44-yard reception in the first quarter was the second-longest of his career after he opened with a 50-yard catch earlier this season (vs. Illinois State).
RB Mike Trumpy led Northwestern in rushing for a second time this season, totaling 50 rushing yards (on 10 carries) for a team-best 5.0 ypc average.
RB Adonis Smith, one of five true freshmen playing the Wildcats this year, ran for a single-game career best 44 yards (4.4 ypc) on 10 carries.
CB Jordan Mabin totaled a single-game career best three pass breakups-the first time in his career he's recorded multiple pass deflections in a game. He also finished with a career-high-tying seven solo tackles.
LB Bryce McNaul led all tacklers with a career-high 10 stops (six solos). It marked the first time he's led NU in tackles for a game. McNaul also registered his first career QB sack while also forcing a fumble.
LB Quentin Davie totaled three tackles, giving him an even 200 for his career.
WR Venric Mark led all NU players with 97 all-purpose yards: he totaled 29 yards on one rush, 42 yards on two kickoff returns and 26 yards on a pair of punt returns.
PK Stefan Demos converted 2-of-2 field goals (37 and 41 yards) to up his season percentage to 66.7 percent (10-of-15). He also booted two of his six kickoffs out of the end zone for touchbacks. Demos ranks sixth on NU's career field goals list with 28.
DE Vince Browne recorded his sixth QB pass sack of the season and the 15th of his career. He entered the game as the Big Ten's second-leading pass sacker. Browne also added a forced fumble, the second of the season and the fourth of his career.
P Brandon Williams drilled two more punts inside the opposition's 20-yard line, giving him 13 for the season. He entered the game with the second-best percentage of punts inside the 20 (42.3 percent) of any Big Ten punter.