Michigan State’s Fourth Quarter Rally Stuns Baylor in the Cotton Bowl
Michigan State scored three unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter to come back from 20 points down and shock No. 5 Baylor, 42-41, in the Cotton Bowl.
After trading scores in the first quarter, the No. 5 Bears (11-2) pulled away with 20 consecutive points over a 14-minute stretch in the second and third. But the No. 8 Spartans (11-2) scored touchdowns on drives of 71 and 60 yards in the fourth quarter to pull to within 45-31 with less than five minutes to play. With just over a minute left, Baylor attempted a field goal that would have sealed the victory. But Michigan State blocked the kick to take possession and set up the game-winning drive. Quarterback Connor Cook hit Keith Mumphery with a 10-yard pass for the go-ahead score with just 17 seconds left.
While all the talk coming into the game focused on Baylor’s high-octane offense, the Spartans went toe-to-toe with the Bears, racking up 552 yards of total offense, just 31 fewer than Baylor. Running back Jeremy Langford rushed for 162 yards (his tenth straight 100+ yard game) and three scores while Cook added 314 yards and two scores through the air.
Baylor’s Bryce Petty had a monster game in the loss, throwing for a Cotton Bowl-record 550 yards and three touchdowns, including this beauty to 390-pound lineman LaQuan McGowan.
While the Spartans could do little to slow down Petty, their third-ranked rush defense was up to the task, holding running back Shock Linwood (1,226 yards on the season) to just 26 yards on 11 carries. Baylor finished with minus-20 yards rushing in defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi’s final game for the Spartans before taking over as the new head coach at Pitt.
Michigan State has now won four consecutive bowl games. In each of those, the Spartans trailed at halftime.