Michigan State wins Big Ten Championship

Michigan State freshman L.J. Scott reaches over the goal line for the winning touchdown Saturday night. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Michigan State freshman L.J. Scott reaches over the goal line for the winning touchdown Saturday night. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

INDIANAPOLIS — When Michigan State needed a drive to win the Big Ten Championship, the Spartans went 82 yards in 22 plays and used up more than nine minutes.

The drive culminated in a 1-yard L.J. Scott touchdown with 27 seconds remaining in Michigan State’s 16-13 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night.

The Scott touchdown gave the Spartans’ their second Big Ten championship in three years and earned Michigan State the No. 3 seed in the College Football Playoff where they will face No. 2 Alabama at AT&T Stadium in Dallas on New Year’s Eve.

Like it had throughout the 2015 season, Michigan State rose to the occasion and made plays when it needed to.

From a shuffle pass to tight end Josiah Price for a first down to a 2-yard option keeper by quarterback Connor Cook for a first down at the 3-yard line.

“We found a way,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “We found a way. Great drive at the end of the game, nine minute drive, clutch plays by our quarterback, defensively played lights out. So I’m just so happy.

“As I said out there, I really believe, this is our third time winning the Championship, third time being here, two times winning it here, there’s no question in my mind this is a special place down here in Indy, the Championship Game. We come here with special people all the time. It becomes a very, very special time for us.”

The two teams traded field goals for much of the first three quarters, with Michigan State leading 9-6 entering the final quarter.

An 85-yard C.J. Beathard pass to Tevaun Smith to open the fourth quarter gave Iowa the 13-9 lead with 14:49 left on the close.

The Spartans and Hawkeyes would each have short drives before Iowa punted the ball away to Michigan State with 9:31 remaining in the game.

The Spartans took the ball the distance, using up most of the play clock and winning the championship.

“Coach (Dave) Warner did a great job calling it, with help from the other offensive coaches.  As it got down inside the 10, I was saying, pound it, take the game and the clock, which I think is a big thing.  If you can run the clock out, 24 seconds at the end of the game, 14, whatever it is, so we got the game and the clock.

 

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