Live Blog: Gophers Football v. Michigan State

Marco LaNave

Happy Halloween.

Final (Crazy) Score – GOPHERS 42, MICHIGAN STATE 34.

2:13 4th – A roughing-the-kicker penalty on Michigan State sustains the Gophers drive. Minnesota will have a first down at the Michigan State 48-yard line.

3:18 4th – On fourth and 14, Cousins throws incomplete near a double-covered

4:18 4th – Gophers senior defensive tackle Garrett Brown is slow to get off the field after an first-down incompletion by Cousins.

6:04 4th – Weber completes a pass to Tow-Arnett, who is hit hard as he tries to make the catch. The ball pops out and into the arms of Bennett, who runs the next 30-some yards for a touchdown. It will go as a 59-yard touchdown pass to Bennett, who caught a ball that bounced off of Tow-Arnett as he fell and did not make the catch. Scoring Drive: 4 plays, 66 yards, 2:06. GOPHERS 42, MICHIGAN STATE 34.

6:05 4th – On a completion from Weber to Tow-Arnett, the ball appears to be fumbled, recovered by Michigan State, and returned to the Minnesota 41-yard line. A review reverses the call, so the incompletion puts Minnesota in third and 17 at its 41-yard line, with 6:14 on the game clock.

7:30 (approx.) 4th – Weber completes a 14-yard pass to McKnight, setting a career high with 357 yards passing and becoming Minnesota’s all-time leading passer with 7,450 yards.

8:10 4th – Swenson kicks a 20-yard field goal. Scoring Drive: 9 plays, 52 yards, 4:30. GOPHERS 35, MICHIGAN STATE 34.

8:14 4th – Cunningham leaps for a ball in the end zone, but can’t keep a foot in bounds. Fourth and goal brings on the field-goal unit for the Spartans.

8:20 4th – A “These refs suck” chant goes through the stadium. Michigan State is at the Minnesota 2-yard line and will have third and goal.

12:29 4th – The loudest boos of the game echo through the stadium as Lawrence is called for a roughing-the-passer penalty. Minnesota has been penalized 16 times for 147 yards, both school records.

12:35 4th – A 15-yard personal foul on Gophers sophomore Tim Dandridge puts Michigan State at its 46-yard line.

12:40 4th – After Weber completes a 53-yard pass to McKnight to the Michigan State 2-yard line, he completes a 2-yard touchdown to Tow-Arnett. The Gophers have 400 yards of total offense for the first time this season. Weber has 343 yards passing – a season high and 9 yards short of a career high.Weber has 6 plays, 73 yards, 2:20. GOPHERS 35, MICHIGAN STATE 31.

End 3rd – Cousins throws an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dion Sims, giving the Spartans their first lead of the game. Scoring Drive: 3 plays, 24 yards, 1:38. MICHIGAN STATE 31, GOPHERS 28.

1:38 3rd – Michigan State has a chance to take the lead after recovering a fumble off a missed handoff from Weber to Bennett at the Minnesota 24-yard line.

2:41 3rd – Gophers junior kicker Eric Ellestad misses a 48-yard field goal wide right. It would have been a career long.

4:51 3rd – Stoudermire returns the kickoff 71 yards to the Michigan State 13-yard line. The career-long kickoff return was highlighted by a cartoonish collision of two Spartans behind Stoudermire.

5:03 3rd – On the first play of the Michigan State drive, Martin takes a handoff and runs 84 yards for a touchdown. GOPHERS 28, MICHIGAN STATE 24.

6:18 3rd – On back-to-back plays, Gophers junior right tackle Jeff Wills is called for consecutive false starts, pushing Minnesota to the Michigan State 46-yard line.

9:48 3rd – Weber completes a 33-yard pass to Tow-Arnett to the Michigan State 43-yard line. Tow-Arnett has six receptions for 75 yards, both career highs.

The ensuing kickoff goes out of bounds, so Michigan State will have the ball at its 40-yard line.

12:27 3rd – The Gophers bring in senior defensive tackle Eric Small in at fullback. Bennett runs for a 1-yard touchdown. 5 plays, 61 yards, 2:20. GOPHERS 28, MICHIGAN STATE 17.

14:36 3rd – Gophers sophomore wide receiver Troy Stoudermire makes a 48-yard reception at the Michigan State 13-yard line. As he stood in celebration of his first catch of the game, Stoudermire was flagged for a 15-yard penalty, pushing Minnesota back to the 28-yard line.

14:47 3rd – Just when this game seems to be understandable, it takes a wild turn. Spartans returner Keshawn Martin runs 93 yards on the kickoff for a touchdown. For the second straight week, a second-half kickoff result couldn’t have been worse for the Gophers. GOPHERS 21, MICHIGAN STATE 17.

Halftime – GOPHERS 21, MICHIGAN STATE 10. This might be the loudest that TCF Bank Stadium has been since the opener against Air Force on Sept. 12. In Decker’s absence, two players (Green and Tow-Arnett) have scored their first touchdowns of the season. Weber has thrown three touchdown passes in a game for the first time since the last game Decker missed – a 35-32 loss at Wisconsin last Nov. 15. This game is far from over, as Michigan State has a potent passing offense and will get the ball to start the second half. The Spartans have just 10 rushing yards, though, so the Gophers might be able to focus their defensive efforts on the pass.

1:04 2nd – Cousins throws a pass well beyond Linthicum on the left sideline. It is only too easy for senior cornerback Marcus Sherels to intercept the pass on the Minnesota 26-yard line and returns it to the 48. A 15-yard penalty on senior linebacker Simoni Lawrence pushes the Gophers back to their own 33.

2:32 2nd – Cousins is back in at quarterback for the Spartans.

2:32 2nd – Weber throws to a 7-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Nick Tow-Arnett, who snares the pass in front of a Michigan State defender. Scoring Drive: 7 plays, 49 yards, 3:14. GOPHERS 21, MICHIGAN STATE 10.

2:38 2nd – Weber floats a pass on second and goal to Stoudermire in the end zone for what appears to be a 7-yard touchdown. The review overturns the call, as the ball hit the ground before Stoudermire had control of the ball.

The Spartans put in their second quarterback, sophomore Keith Nichol, who has completed 39-of-75 passes for 650 yards and five touchdowns this season.

7:10 2nd – The Gophers punt and Michigan State returns the ball to its own 17-yard line. On the play, Gophers sophomore Johnny Johnson was injured. A block-in-the-back penalty on the Spartans puts them on their own 9-yard line.

8:47 2nd – Stoudermire misses a chance for a big play, dropping a first-down pass from Weber when he was wide open on the right sideline near the Michigan State 30-yard line. It would have been at least a 30-yard completion.

10:35 2nd – The Spartans intercepted a Weber pass at the Michigan State 39-yard line, returning it to the Minnesota 41. A personal-foul penalty on Three plays later, the Spartans capitalized when Cousins did a little scrambling, waited for the Gophers secondary to bite, and then threw a 26-yard pass to Linthicum, who was wide open near the goal line. Scoring Drive: 3 plays, 26 yards, 0:55. GOPHERS 14, MICHIGAN STATE 10.

0:15 1st – The Gophers stopped Michigan State three times with goal to go inside the 5-yard line, resulting in a 20-yard field goal by kicker Brett Swenson. Scoring Drive: 13 plays, 87 yards, 6:00. GOPHERS 14, MICHIGAN STATE 3.

5:40 (approx.) 1st – Cousins completes a 49-yard pass down the middle to a wide-open B.J. Cunningham at the Minnesota 30-yard line. If Cunningham wouldn’t have fallen on the catch, he would have walked into the end zone.

9:11 1st – Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins fumbles the snap on first down. Gophers senior defensive tackle Garrett Brown recovers the fumble at the Michigan State 44-yard line.

13:13 1st – On third and 19, Weber gets great protection and throws a picture-perfect 37-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Brandon Green near the right sideline of the end zone. Scoring Drive: 3 plays, 28 yards, 1:21. GOPHERS 14, MICHIGAN STATE 0.

14:34 1st – On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore DeLeon Eskridge forced and recovered a fumble by Spartans returner Edwin Baker at the Michigan State 28-yard line.

14:40 1st – First play from scrimmage: On a play action to sophomore running back Duane Bennett (trick), junior quarterback Adam Weber dropped back and found a wide-open Bennett on the left side. Bennett sprinted down the sideline, was hit by Spartans safety Marcus Hyde, but managed to tip-toe literally for a season-long play – a 62-yard touchdown (treat). Scoring drive: 1 play, 62 yards, 0:20. GOPHERS 7, MICHIGAN STATE 0.

The Gophers and Spartans will kick off at 7 p.m., facing each other for the first time since 2006.  And for just the second time since the end of the 2006 season, Gophers wide receiver Eric Decker will not be in the starting lineup, as the senior captain’s Gophers playing career is over.

At a pre-game news conference, Eric Decker entered on crutches and announced that he will have surgery on Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C., to repair a torn Lisfranc ligament, which runs from the middle of the foot to the toes.  A ligament between his big toe and second toe and a ligament on the outside of his big toe were both torn from a first-quarter injury against Ohio State last Saturday.  He expects an approximately eight-month recovery.  The NFL Draft is less than six months away, but Decker still hopes to be selected.

Sophomore Da’Jon McKnight, whose only reception this season came on a two-point conversion, will start in place of Decker.

On a side note, coming off the elevator near the room of the news conference shortly afterward was the Gophers men’s basketball team.  At least one had a Goldy Gopher mask.