Michigan State loses heartbreaker to Wisconsin in Big Ten Title game

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Montee Ball ran for three touchdowns including the decisive 7-yard score with 3:45 to go, leading No. 15 Wisconsin past No. 11 Michigan State 42-39 in the inaugural Big Ten championship game.

Wisconsin (11-2) is now headed to its second straight Rose Bowl.

Ball ran 27 times for 137 yards and caught a TD pass, giving him 38 touchdowns this season. That's one short of Barry Sanders' single season record.

Russell Wilson was 17 of 24 for 187 yards with three TDs and no interceptions. He set a new NCAA record with a TD pass in his 37th straight game. Texas Tech's Graham Harrell had the previous mark of 36.

The Big Ten's first championship game made the idea of a conference title tilt seem like a good one.

Michigan State (10-3) rallied from a 21-7 first-quarter deficit to take a 29-21 halftime lead and still led 39-34 after Dan Conway's 25-yard field midway through the fourth quarter.

But Wilson and Ball answered with a score and a 2-point conversion.

Down three with 2:00 left, Michigan State had one last chance as Wisconsin punted. Keyshawn Martin made a thrilling return before being knocked out at the two.

But there was a flag on the play. The Spartans were called for running into the punter--resulting in an automatic first down for the Badgers. Michigan State had no timeouts left---ending the game.

Spartans coached Mark Dantonio said they were going for the punt block on the play--another gutsy call for a team that's converted nearly every time it's gone for it all.

Ben Davis grad Isaiah Lewis was called for the penalty, a devastating result in his hometown of Indianapolis.

With the loss, Michigan State misses out on heading to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 24 years.

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