In a match-up of teams seemingly headed in opposite directions — the Wisconsin Badgers (3-4, 1-3 conference), who came into the game off a 42-7 victory in interim head coach Jim Leonhard’s first game and the Michigan State Spartans (3-4, 1-3 conference), who came into the game losing four-straight contests, needed overtime to determine a victor.
With Michigan State prevailing, 34-28 after two overtime periods.
The Spartans opened overtime with a bit of trickery, as wide receiver Jayden Reed took a reverse from quarterback Payton Thorne and then threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Keon Coleman.
Wisconsin opened its first overtime posession with Graham Mertz throwing back-to-back incompletions — the first of which was nearly intercepted as two Spartan defenders could not secure the errant pass, before Mertz completed a pass on a crossing pattern to Chimere Dike, who did the rest and scored from 25 yards out, on third down.
Dike led Wisconsin in receiving in the game with four receptions for 45 yards.
The touchdown pass was Mertz’s second of the game, as Mertz finished 14-25, for 131 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Wisconsin, hoping to seize the momentum of it’s score in the opening overtime period, started its second overtime posession with a carry by Braelon Allen, who fumbled the ball for the first time this season, turning it over to Michigan State, who just needed a score of any kind to win the game.
Following the turnover, Michigan State scored on a 27-yard pass from Thorne, to Reed, to win the game.
Reed led all receivers with nine receptions for 117 yards and the game-winning score.
Wisconsin opened the game, forcing a three-and-out by the Spartans, then capped off an 11-play, 63-yard drive with an Allen, 1-yard touchdown run.
The Badger defense then forced a turnover-on-downs by the Spartans near the goal line, ending a scoreless, 14-play, 73-yard drive. However, Wisconsin was unable to use the momentum of the turnover-on-downs as Mertz turned the ball over himself, as he was intercepted, trying to complete a pass to tight end Jack Eschenbach.
The Spartans turned the short field into a 2-play, 12-yard touchdown drive, as former Badger, Jalen Berger scored from 12 yards out.
Berger finished the game with 16 carries for 59 yards and the score against his former team.
Wisconsin then answered with a 9-play, 75-yard drive, once again capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Allen, putting the Badgers up 14-7.
Allen finished the game with 29 carries for 123 yards and the two scores. Allen also eclipsed the career 2,000 yard rushing mark in the game, in just his 19th collegiate game, as well as scoring his 20 career touchdown.
Wisconsin, who held a 14-7 lead in the contest at the half, punted on six consecutive posessions, following it’s second score, while allowing the Spartans to score 14 unanswered points in the second half, getting touchdowns from Elijah Collins (a 1-yard rushing score) and from Coleman, on a 27-yard pass from Thorne, to take a 21-14 lead.
Thorne finished the game, 21-28 for 265 yards and two scores.
With its backs against the wall, Wisconsin was then able to answer on its final drive of regulation, as Mertz capped off a 9-play, 52-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Keontez Lewis, in the back corner of the endzone on fourth-and-goal, tying the game with just over two minutes remaining in regulation.
It was Wisconsin second conversion on fourth down, as the Badgers finished the game 2-2 on fourthdown, while holding the Spartans to 0-2 on fourth down.
Michigan State did line up for a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation, but holder Bryce Baringer was unable to handle and errant snap and threw the ball away, throwing an interception to John Torchio, his third of the season, as time expired.
Wisconsin will return home next Saturday, to host Purdue, needing a lot of help the rest of the way this season, if they hope to secure a Big Ten West title.