NWESTERN 3 3 14 3 23
MICHST 2 3 8 7 20
Date of game: 11/17/2012

Recap: Michigan State vs. Northwestern

East Lansing, MI (Sports Network) - The Northwestern Wildcats notched four takeaways and a defensive touchdown to top the Michigan State Spartans, 23-20, in a Big Ten Conference tilt at Spartan Stadium.

The four takeaways (two fumble recoveries, two interceptions) marked the team's highest total in a game since 2010. Kain Colter threw a third-quarter touchdown pass and Jeff Budzien kicked three field goals to help the Wildcats (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten) rebound from last week's overtime loss at Michigan.

The Spartans (5-6, 2-5) have now lost four of their last five contests, although they can still become bowl eligible with a win at Minnesota next weekend. Le'Veon Bell ran for 133 yards in a losing effort, while Andrew Maxwell threw for 297 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, one of which was returned the other way for a touchdown.

The Wildcats opened the contest with a 13-play, 68-yard drive that lasted more than six minutes. However, the drive stalled at the MSU 7 and they had to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Budzien.

The Spartans made it a 3-2 game later in the opening frame when linebacker Max Bullough sacked Colter in the end zone for a safety.

The teams traded field goals in the second quarter, as MSU's Dan Conroy kicked a 35-yarder at the 12:52 mark and Budzien hit from 43 yards in the final minute of the half to send NU into the locker room with a 6-5 halftime lead.

The Wildcats defense registered the first touchdown of the game in the opening minute of the second half, as linebacker David Nwabuisi intercepted Maxwell and returned it 43 yards to the end zone.

Maxwell would answer by engineering an eight-play, 65-yard drive, capped by his 15-yard scoring strike to Aaron Burbridge. Maxwell hooked up with Keith Mumphery for the two-point conversion to tie the score at 13 apiece.

NU took a 20-13 lead on the ensuing possession, as Colter found Tim Riley for a six-yard touchdown pass.

The Spartans knotted the score at 20 apiece on Maxwell's six-yard TD pass to Tony Lippett at the 9:22 mark of the fourth quarter.

Budzien's 27-yard field goal on the ensuing possession proved to be the game- winner, as NU would later seal the victory with four consecutive pass breakups on the Spartans' final drive.

The Wildcats won despite converting only 3-of-14 third downs. MSU made six trips inside the red zone but came away with only two touchdowns and a field goal. With the victory, Northwestern snapped a four-game slide in the head-to- head series.

Game Notes

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Here's a number that's bigger than the 24 seniors whose departure was supposed to make North Dakota State vulnerable this season:

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