Recapping MSU’s 34-20 loss to Northwestern in the Gator Bowl at EverBank Field on Tuesday.
Tyler Russell threw a career-worst four interceptions, and Northwestern scored 17 points off those miscues to snap MSU’s five-game bowl winning streak. It was only the second bowl win in Northwestern’s history and stopped a nine-game bowl losing skid.
A game that saw several momentum swings ultimately swung Northwestern’s way thanks to backup quarterback Trevor Siemian, who led two key third-quarter touchdown drives to give the Wildcats (10-3) a 27-13 lead. MSU clawed back within a TD, but Russell tossed up a third-down prayer from his own 15-yard line and was picked off by Nick VanHoose, and that set up a 3-yard TD run by Venric Mark for another two-TD lead with 8:10 to go.
Russell was intercepted on MSU’s first two possessions. The first was returned 29 yards for a touchdown by defensive end Quentin Williams, and the second was snagged by safety Ibraheim Campbell at the Northwestern 14-yard line. The latter miscue led to a Northwestern field goal.
MSU (8-5) was set up nicely at Northwestern’s 14-yard line after a long Denico Autry interception return, but Russell was picked off on the very next play. The State defense stiffened up, though, forcing punts on NU’s last three possessions of the half. With the help of a strong running game, Russell finally shook off his poor start to find Arceto Clark for an 18-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone. That made it 13-10 Wildcats with 1:06 left in the half, and that was the halftime score.
By that point, MSU was out-gaining NU in total yardage, 181-164, with 136 of that on the ground. NU had only 47 total yards in the second quarter as the Bulldogs started to figure out that run-heavy offense. Co-defensive coordinator Geoff Collins was given defensive play-calling duties today.
Nickoe Whitley‘s interception early in the third quarter led to Devon Bell‘s 47-yard field goal to tie it at 13-13. It was Whitley’s ninth career pick and second of the season. MSU appeared to have a stop on the Wildcats’ next possession, but Siemian converted a third-and-10 with a 12-yard pass, then connected on completions of 27 and 34 yards, setting up a 3-yard TD run by Tyris Jones.
Whitley intercepted Siemian in the third quarter, but MSU couldn’t turn that into points. Siemian continued to provide a spark, and but Colter also helped out with a 31-yard scramble to give NU a first down at MSU’s 4-yard line. Siemian then ran it in for a 27-13 lead. But the momentum swung back to MSU early in the fourth quarter, as Russell hit on 4 of 5 passes for 43 yards on a 75-yard scoring drive. He hit Malcolm Johnson for a 14-yard score with 11:42 to go.
Be sure to check out more videos below, of Autry, Collins, offensive lineman Gabe Jackson and tailback LaDarius Perkins.
NU – Quentin Williams 29 INT return (Jeff Budzien kick), 14:13
NU – Budzien 34 field goal, 4:49 (15 plays, 69 yards, 6:00)
NU – Budzien 37 field goal, 14:48 (10 plays, 43 yards, 3:26)
MSU – Devon Bell 27 field goal, 4:48 (6 plays, 53 yards, 3:18)
MSU – Arceto Clark 18 pass from Tyler Russell (Bell kick), 1:06 (6 plays, 62 yards, 1:25)
MSU – Bell 47 field goal, 10:37 (8 plays, 24 yards, 3:02)
NU – Tyris Jones 3 run (Budzien kick), 9:25 (6 plays, 76 yards, 1:06)
NU – Trevor Siemian 4 run (Budzien kick), :26 (8 plays, 74 yards, 3:59)
MSU – Malcolm Johnson 14 pass from Russell (Bell kick), 11:42 (8 plays, 75 yards, 3:44)
NU – Venric Mark 3 run (Budzien kick), 8:10 (3 plays, 5 yards, 1:44)