For Northwestern football’s senior class, it was a tough ending to a tough season.
No. 14 Michigan State came away from a rainy Ryan Field with a 31-17 victory over the Wildcats, whose four game winning streak ended with the loss.
Northwestern senior quarterback Dan Persa finished 23-32 for 245 passing yards and two touchdowns in his final game at Ryan Field. But Persa’s Wildcats were overwhelmed by the Spartans, who will represent the Big Ten Legends Division next week in the first ever Big Ten Conference Championship Game.
Michigan State was led by senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, who tossed two touchdowns, both to senior receiver B.J. Cunningham. Cunningham finished the game with six catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
Cousins, who only threw the ball 20 times, was helped by the power running game of Le’Veon Bell - who rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown - as well as Michigan State’s special teams. Keshawn Martin returned a punt 57 yards for a score with only 34 seconds remaining in the first half, putting the Spartans up 17-3 at the break.
Although the ‘Cats were able to get within a touchdown on two separate occasions in the second half, Michigan State was able to respond with touchdowns of their own.
Even with the loss, Northwestern is still bowl-eligible, as the ‘Cats are 6-6. Bowl matchups will be announced next weekend following the various conference championships.
Though the loss ends Northwestern’s win streak and ends the regular season on a sour note, the Wildcat seniors can still celeberate being the most successful senior class in Northwestern football history. The senior Wildcats have won 36 games the past five years, the most in Northwestern history by a senior class. The 2011 season is Northwestern’s fifth straight season of earning six wins or more.