Spartan Stadium eventually filled up by the middle of the first quarter. Unfortunately for the 75,101 of them in the stands, the first half was a primer on everything Michigan State has failed to do all season.
Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien has a pair of field goals, from 24 and 43 yards, to give the Wildcats a 6-5 halftime lead.
The Spartans blew two chances offensively inside the Wildcats’ 5-yard line, coming away with no points on either trip after a first-quarter Andrew Maxwell fumble and a fourth-down snuff of Le’Veon Bell. They did manage to get a safety on a sack of Northwestern QB Kain Colter by Max Bullough and Will Gholston.
Dan Conroy also made a field goal from 35 yards out early in the second quarter, but then he missed a 37-yard attempt in the waning seconds of the half that would have given MSU the lead again after Maxwell marched them deep into Northwestern territory. Conroy is now 18 of 26 on the season.
Bell has 18 carries for 52 yards, upping his season totals to 301 attempts and 1,301 yards. He is the first running back to top 300 carries since Javon Ringer in 2008 and now ranks sixth in single-season attempts behind Marc Renaud’s 312 in 1995.
And yes, this first half was ugly. The two teams combined for a little more than 300 yards, but it’s like watching neutral zone hockey. Just brutal. Wonder how many of the fans who did arrive late wish they’d have stayed away.