Nov. 23, 2013
Box Score |
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Big Ten Legends Division champion Michigan State (10-1, 7-0) earned a 30-6 victory over Northwestern in the Wildcats' final home contest of 2013 Saturday afternoon in Evanston. Both teams, as well as a crowd of 40,013, braved unseasonably cold temperatures that hovered in the mid-20's with wind chills dipping into the single-digits.
In his final game at Ryan Field, senior PK Jeff Budzien overcame the conditions to kick two field goals, along the way becoming Northwestern's all-time scoring leader with 267 career points. Budzien's total topped the previous mark of 262 held since 1998 by former kicker Brian Gowins. A Lou Groza Award candidate, Budzien also matched the school single-season record for field goals with 20 -- tying both Gowins (1997) and Amado Villarreal (2008) -- and has an opportunity to break the mark in next week's game at Illinois.
After the teams traded punts to open the game, Northwestern moved the ball well on its next series despite losing starting senior QB for the game Kain Colter to an injury. Split out wide, Colter caught a first-down pass and was hit by MSU's Isaiah Lewis on a play that resulted in a 15-yard penalty and ejection of Lewis for targeting. A few plays later, Siemian picked up 10 yards on a read-option keeper to the 22-yard line, and soon Budzien would come on to connect on his record-setting 22-yard field goal.
The Spartans one-upped the Wildcats on their first drive of the second quarter, handing the ball off to Jeremy Langford eight times on the series for 69 yards, including the 20-yard touchdown rush to cap the 10-play drive.
After an NU punt pinned Michigan State inside its own 10-yard line, the Wildcats forced their opponent into a 3rd-and-5 scenario when Cook floated a pass down the left sideline toward Bennie Fowler. The route was well-defended by freshman CB Matthew Harris, who deflected the pass only to have Fowler corral it on the tip and take it uncontested 87 yards to paydirt to give the visitors a 14-3 lead.
Northwestern responded in fine form as Siemian directed the 'Cats across midfield and completed a 39-yard pass to Dan Vitale on a well-executed fake screen pass. But the Spartans defense denied NU inside the 5-yard line to set up Budzien's second field goal of the day, this time from 20 yards.
Michigan State tacked on a 37-yard field goal early in the third and later in the quarter would put together an eight-play touchdown drive on the strength of several well-timed throws by QB Connor Cook, including a 15-yard play-action pass completion to Josiah Price for the touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Michigan State's Kurtis Drummond stepped in front of a Siemian offering on first down for an interception, and on the ensuing play from scrimmage Langford broke off a 37-yard touchdown rush to increase MSU's lead to 30-6.
Sophomore punter Chris Gradone recorded a career-best and NU season-long 61-yard punt in the fourth quarter.
Siemian completed 25 passes for the second time this season Saturday. The junior threw for 227 yards against the stout Spartans defense. WR Tony Jones hauled in a game-high seven passes for the 'Cats.
The game represented the final appearance at Ryan Field for 14 Wildcats seniors whose tremendous Northwestern careers are drawing to a close: fifth-year seniors PK Jeff Budzien, S Davion Fleming, LS Pat Hickey, WR Mike Jensen, LB Damien Proby, DE Tyler Scott, RB Mike Trumpy, LB Timmy Vernon and P Brandon Williams, and true seniors CB C.J. Bryant, QB Kain Colter, CB Mike Eshun and DT Will Hampton.
Northwestern's regular season comes to a close next Saturday (Nov. 30) when the Wildcats travel to rival Illinois for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff in Champaign. The 'Cats will be attempting to retain possession of the Land of Lincoln trophy after downing the Illini, 50-14, last year at Ryan Field.
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