Michigan State takes BWW Bowl after sloppy start

Michigan State’s Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl victory at Sun Devil Stadium was like eating a dozen Buffalo Wild Wings.

It was messy, sloppy and made the stomach upset. But when they were finished, the 17-16 win over TCU made them feel real good.

“I just want to congratulate our football team, Spartan Nation, for a great win,” MSU coach Mark Dantonio said. “Very similar to last year’s bowl game where we bounced back.”

The Spartans had to bounce back.

For about three-fourths of the game, Michigan State’s play was about as bad as a plate of under cooked wings.

TCU jumped out to a 13-0 lead after long passing plays from TCU quarterback redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin and his receivers. The Spartans would have been down by more but the defense stepped up in the red zone forcing TCU to kick two field goals.

Then near the end of the third quarter, Michigan State redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Cook pulled off a 90-yard touchdown drive to cut the TCU lead to 13-7. Cook and junior Andrew Maxwell shared reps throughout the game.

A couple minutes later, TCU fumbled a punt and gave MSU the ball on the TCU 4-yard line. The Spartans took advantage and scored on a 4-yard TD run from junior running back Le’Veon Bell to bring the score to 14-13.

Bell was another reason the Michigan State responded in the second half. He was held to 38 yards in the first half by the TCU defense. He came out in the second and tacked on 107 yards to keep the Michigan State offense moving.

“We just wanted to stick to our guns, stick to what we do and that’s run the football,” Bell said. “(The) third and fourth quarter the O-line kept pushing better, we started wearing those guys out, eventually got the ball in the end zone a couple times.”

The rest of the fourth quarter was a spectacle of defense. Both teams were trying to move the ball and pull ahead but neither defense would budge. TCU and MSU traded punts throughout the quarter.

With just under four minutes left in the game, TCU took the lead with a 53-yard field goal by freshman kicker

MSU coach Mark Dantonio accepts the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl trophy. Dantonio's Spartans were able to overcome a dismal first half to win the bowl in Tempe.

MSU coach Mark Dantonio accepts the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl trophy. Dantonio’s Spartans were able to overcome a dismal first half to win the bowl in Tempe.

Jayden Oberkrom.

The Spartans then took the field in a situation they know all too well. Close game, time winding down and they needed to pull out a victory.

MSU had lost five games that came down the last plays this season. But this one would be different.

Cook led a clutch drive down the field and senior kicker Dan Conroy hit a 53-yard field goal to seal the Michigan State victory.

Dantonio said they have been in that situation a lot this season and lost. But they also have won close games.

“The thing that was impressive to me was we stayed composed all the way through to the end,” Dantonio said. “We won against Wisconsin very close. We won against Boise (State) very close. So our guys have won. It’s just that sometimes when you lose, it sort of gets magnified for all of us.”