Posted by Adam Jacobi
MICHIGAN STATE WON. In perhaps the wildest finish of the college football season, Kirk Cousins found Keith Nichol on a deflected, 44-yard Hail Mary pass at the goal line on the final play of the game, and No. 16 Michigan State beat No. 6 Wisconsin, 37-31. The win knocks Wisconsin from the ranks of the unbeaten, and almost certainly out of the national championship discussion for the rest of the season.
WHY MICHIGAN STATE WON: In a game with such a razor-thin edge of success and failure, any number of factors can be the "why" here -- the punt and field goal that MSU blocked, the Russell Wilson safety, everything else -- but this game was still likely to go into overtime if Wisconsin hadn't gotten greedy. At the beginning of the final drive, Michigan State faced a 2nd and 21 after Kirk Cousins fumbled during a sack. Wisconsin called a time out both after that fumble and on the next snap, which would have been nice strategy except MSU converted for a first down. With the extra time on the clock, Michigan State was able to drive down the fied and into position for that last-second miracle.
WHEN MICHIGAN STATE WON: When replay officials saw Keith Nichol twist and break the plane of the goal line. Nichol's catch was originally ruled down at 1-yard line, where he made the catch and where he was eventually tackled. Replay showed the ball momentarily but definitively crossing the plane, and that was that. The catch came with no time on the clock, so with the ruling, MSU got the win.
WHAT MICHIGAN STATE WON: Michigan State had a brutal three-game stretch to start the Big Ten season: at Ohio State, vs. Michigan, and vs. Wisconsin. Sparty just went 3-0. So it's MSU, not Wisconsin, who's the most likely division winner in the entire Big Ten. And what once looked like a disappointing season in the waiting after Notre Dame embarrassed MSU is now potentially special.
WHAT WISCONSIN LOST: Gone is the undefeated season, the Russell Wilson Heisman campaign, and the title talk. Wisconsin's now "just" 6-1, and while the Badgers are probably going to take the Leaders Division title, it's now Penn State who's alone atop the Leaders standings. So that Wisconsin-PSU game that finishes the regular season is likely to be a de facto division title game.
THAT WAS CRAZY: What's crazy is that there are some folks who question whether the Nichol touchdown was "indisputable" enough to be overturned. It's okay to have a high standard of the word "indisputable." It's not okay to hide behind that word and refuse to overturn a bad call. You want indisputable evidence? Here it is, via the handiwork of @andyglockner. That's a touchdown. Period.