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2011 Big Ten Championship: Wisconsin Badgers Beat Michigan St. Spartans In 42-39 Nail-Biter

The Wisconsin Badgers (11-2, 6-2) eschewed their No. 15 BCS ranking for a night and beat the No. 13 Michigan St. Spartans (10-3, 7-1) in a 42-39 thriller.

Wisconsin jumped to an early lead in the first quarter, driving for three quick touchdowns -- two coming on 6-yard runs from Montee Ball, and one coming on a short pass from Jeff Duckworth to Russell Wilson. An Edwin Baker touchdown run for the Spartans put them on the board, but the Badgers held a strong 21-7 lead after the opening fifteen minutes.

Michigan St. responded quickly, though, orchestrating a 7-play, 80-yard touchdown drive early in the second, capped by a 30-yard touchdown bomb from B.J. Cunningham to Kirk Cousins. The Spartans then proceeded to add another 15 points, scoring on a short and rare catch-and-toss and a six yard Le'Veon Bell run.

A successful two-point conversion put the game at 21-29, Spartans leading, going into halftime, and after the teams exchanged touchdown passes in the second quarter, Montee Ball broke the Spartans' 28-36 lead.

In the Badgers' first drive of the final quarter, Ball sliced through the Michigan State defense for his second rushing touchdown. The Spartans responded with a 25-yard Dan Conroy field goal, putting the game at 34-39, but Ball found the end zone again, rushing seven yards through a thicket of Spartans defenders for an eventual 42-39 lead.

After the Badgers were unable to run out the clock late in the fourth quarter, however, the Spartans looked poised for a final drive and a shot at a game-tying field goal with a few seconds remaining on the clock. Punter Brad Nortman booted the ball deep, but Keshawn Martin of the Spartans zipped by the punt coverage team until finally being pushed out in the Wisconsin red zone. The incredible return, however, was wiped away on a running into the kicker penalty called on Isaiah Lewis, giving the Badgers a first down and the chance to run out the clock.

With the win, Wisconsin is now 21-30 all-time against the Michigan State Spartans.

For more on this game and the teams involved, head over to Wisconsin blog Bucky's 5th Quarter and Michigan State blog The Only Colors. Visit SB Nation NCAA Football for more on Championship Weekend.