The setting was perfect for an upset. The Minnesota Golden Gophers have been much better than expected in 2013, and the Michigan State Spartans already have their Big Ten Championship Game berth locked up. Nobody would have been surprised if the Gophers jumped up and bit the Spartans, but the home team took care of business, 14-3, in East Lansing.
The Spartans and Golden Gophers play for the highly prestigious and not-at-all made up Honeycrisp Trophy, and as they say, you throw out the records when teams get together for the Honeycrisp Trophy.
Michigan State opened the scoring fairly early, as Jeremy Langford scored from 15 yards out to give the Spartans a 7-0 lead. The Gophers were able to pull back a field goal in the second quarter, but Michigan State really took control when it took a 14-3 lead in the third quarter on Connor Cook pass to Josiah Price. The Spartans could have made the margin even wider, but a pair of turnovers in Minnesota territory kept them within striking distance.
With less than five minutes remaining and the Gophers driving deep in Michigan State territory and on the verge of making it a one possession game, the defense came up big again. Shilique Calhoun stripped the ball off Mitch Leidner, who was in for the injured Philip Nelson, and the Spartans took over. At that point, there just wasn't enough time left for the Gophers to overcome the Spartans.
With the win, Michigan State goes to 11-1 on the season and 8-0 in the Big Ten, and are all set to take on Ohio State for the conference title in Indianapolis. This is only the second time in program history that the school has gone undefeated in the Big Ten.
Minnesota falls to 8-4, but considering where it was before the season and the issues surrounding head coach Jerry Kill's health, that record is an unmitigated success. They gave the Spartans issues on Saturday, but just didn't have enough to take advantage of their opportunities.
Box Score Hero:
Jeremy Langford was the workhorse for Michigan State, rushing for 134 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Honorable mention goes to Minnesota's David Cobb, who was able to rush for 101 yards on 27 carries against the ferocious Spartan defense.
Michigan State came into the game ranked 11th in the BCS standings, and it should ascend into the top 10 with a win.
But Did They Cover?
The Spartans were 17-point favorites at kickoff, so they did not cover the spread.
For More On This Game:
For more on the Spartans, check out The Only Colors.
For more on the Golden Gophers, head over to The Daily Gopher.
Next Week's Schedule:
Michigan State: Big Ten title game vs. Ohio State
Minnesota: Regular season over.