After a dull first half, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl turned out to be one for the ages.
At the Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, AZ, Saturday night, the Michigan State Spartans (7-6) completed a thrilling come-from-behind win against the TCU Horned Frogs (7-6):
FINAL: Michigan State beats TCU 17-16 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.— Eye on College FBall (@EyeOnCFB) December 30, 2012
Fans shouldn't have been expecting an offensive explosion from either team, as the Spartans D ranks No. 9 in points allowed and TCU's offense is 61st in the nation in points scored.
The first half was all Horned Frogs, as TCU led 13-0 at the half behind a four-yard rushing TD by Matthew Tucker and two field goals by Jaden Oberkrom, but MSU battled back in the second half.
Freshman quarterback Connor Cook threw his first career TD pass to get the Spartans on the board in the third quarter, and workhorse running back Le'Veon Bell gave MSU the lead in the fourth with a four-yard score.
It looked as if the Spartans had finally taken control, until they were forced to punt, leading to another Oberkrom field goal—the longest in BWW Bowl history at 53 yards—to put TCU back on top, 16-14, with 3:31 remaining.
But it wasn't enough.
Cook and Bell led the Spartans down the field, as the freshman connected on consecutive first-down passes to start the drive. TCU didn't help itself out by committing a costly holding penalty on third down, and it led to a 47-yard field goal by Dan Conroy, which was ultimately the difference-maker.
Despite being outgained in total yards, 288-249, the Spartans were able to pull out a victory with a second-half surge.
MSU quarterbacks combined to go 11-of-28 for just 104 yards and a touchdown, but thanks to Bell (145 yards and a TD on 32 carries), the Spartans completed the comeback victory.
CBS Sports highlights one of the Spartans' better offensive plays of the night:
Michigan State's best play of the night involves Le'Veon Bell throwing the pass. Sparty's inside the 20.— Eye on College FBall (@EyeOnCFB) December 30, 2012
The BWW Bowl's official Twitter account tweets this gem regarding Michigan State's lack of production in bowl games lately:
Michigan State has now been held scoreless in the first half in their last 3 bowl appearances ('12 #BWWBowl, '12 Outback, '11 Capital One).— BWW Bowl (@BWWBowl) December 30, 2012
Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal adds some humor to what was otherwise a drab night for the Spartans offense:
Connor Cook may be a risky gunslinger who doesn't know the offense. But not knowing this offense might be helpful.— Graham Couch (@Graham_Couch) December 30, 2012
MSU's official Twitter page highlights the impressive drive that put the Spartans on the board with this tweet:
The 14-play, 90-yard scoring march marked MSU's longest touchdown drive of the season. #BWWBowl— Spartan Football (@MSU_Football) December 30, 2012
ESPN Big 12 blogger David Ubben joins in on the fun, this time poking fun at TCU's QB Trevone Boykin:
Trevone Boykin specializing in near interceptions that turn into 60-yard gains tonight.— David Ubben (@davidubben) December 30, 2012
And, of course, we can't leave out ESPN Stats & Info, which always finds a way to add another dimension to sports coverage:
TCU's loss is 1st by a school from Texas this bowl season. The others have gone 5-0; Texas A&M plays Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl Friday.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 30, 2012
It started out slow, but the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl turned out to be one of the best games thus far this bowl season.
Follow me on Twitter: Follow @Pete_Schauer.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!