Michigan State secures place in Big Ten title game
Evanston, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Jeremy Langford rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns while Connor Cook added a pair of scoring strikes to help No. 13 Michigan State claim the Big Ten Legends Division crown with a 30-6 victory over Northwestern on Saturday at Ryan Field.
Langford carried the ball 25 times and added a pair of catches for 35 yards, while Cook completed 16-of-24 passes for 293 yards for the Spartans (10-1, 7-0 Big Ten), who secured a berth in the Big Ten title game with their seventh straight victory.
"I want to congratulate our football team," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. "Ten wins. Legends [Division] champions and as we go forward it's exciting times. We've talked about there being moments that we'd remember for the rest of our lives and I think that's what is happening for us so we just need to continue and press on."
The Spartans will take on No. 4 Ohio State in the conference title game on Dec. 7. The undefeated Buckeyes buried Indiana on Saturday to secure the Leaders Division.
Northwestern starting quarterback Kain Colter completed his first two passes before leaving the game with a right arm injury after catching a pass and taking a hard hit from safety Isaiah Lewis, who was issued a personal foul for targeting and ejected from the game after video review.
"It's really tough for Kain, I felt for him on Senior Day, especially," backup quarterback Trevor Siemian said of Kolter's injury. "He didn't get the chance to finish his career here [at Ryan Field] the way he wanted to."
Siemian struggled to get Northwestern's offense going in place of Kolter, completing just 25-of-43 passes for 227 yards with two interceptions for the Wildcats (4-7, 0-7), who have lost seven straight games.
After the senior Colter's final game in front of the Northwestern faithful ended abruptly on the team's second drive, Siemian converted a 3rd-and-2 with a 10-yard scamper before hitting Mike Jensen for 15 yards to the MSU 7.
Mike Trumpy surged ahead for two yards on the next play before Siemian misfired on back-to-back passes to set up Jeff Budzien's 22-yard field goal that gave the Wildcats a 3-0 edge with 7:55 left in the first.
Langford did most of the heavy lifting on Michigan State's first scoring drive of the game, accounting for 69 yards on an 11-play, 80-yard march that gave the Spartans a 7-3 edge midway through the second.
Langford ripped off three 11-yard runs on the drive before capping it with a 20-yard scamper around the left end to put the Spartans on top for good.
Following a Northwestern punt, the Spartans used their longest play from scrimmage of the season to increase their lead.
Facing 3rd-and-5 from the MSU 13, Cook floated a wobbly pass down the left sideline for Bennie Fowler, who was blanketed by cornerback Matthew Harris.
Despite the coverage, Fowler was able to pull in the pass with his right arm, and after Harris fell to the ground, the senior wideout rumbled the rest of the way down the sideline for an 87-yard score that made it 14-3 with 4:31 left in the half.
Siemian opened Northwestern's ensuing drive with a 23-yard toss to Christian Jones and then found Dan Vitale two plays later for a 39-yard gain down to the MSU 8, but the drive stalled inside the 5-yard line and the Wildcats settled for a 20-yard field goal from Budzien to pull within 14-6.
Michael Geiger drilled a 37-yard field goal on the opening sequence of the second half to extend MSU's lead before Cook capped the team's next series with his second TD toss of the day.
Cook completed his first four passes on the march, including a 20-yard hookup with Keith Mumphery that moved the team to the Northwestern 15.
After firing incomplete on his next pass, Cook used a nifty play-fake to freeze the defense before hitting Josiah Price in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown. Geiger's extra point was blocked to leave the margin at 23-6 with five minutes left in the third.
The Spartans turned the Wildcats over on their next three touches, with Darqueze Dennard and Keith Drummond sandwiching interceptions between a turn over on downs to keep the margin at 17.
Drummond's pick came early in the fourth and set up the Spartans' next score, as Langford broke free for a 37-yard touchdown run on the first play after the interception to push the lead to 30-6 with 12:37 left in the fourth.
Drummond added his second interception of the day with under two minutes remaining to seal the outcome.
Budzien recorded his 267th career point to become Northwestern's all-time leader in points, surpassing Brian Gowins ... Langford has 15 rushing touchdowns this season ... MSU will be in the Big Ten title tilt for the second time in game's three-year existence ... The Spartans racked up 171 rushing yards and held the Wildcats to 80 yards on the ground ... Northwestern's Tony Jones caught a game-high seven passes for 59 yards.
11/23 19:06:04 ET