Football: Epic MSU loss still resonating

Matt Baker

Northwestern was on the losing end of the biggest comeback in NCAA football history when the Wildcats fell to Michigan State last season.

As the Cats prepare to face the Spartans on the road this week, poor second-half performances are on NU’s mind again after giving up 21 unanswered points in Saturday’s 28-16 loss to Michigan.

“We had, I thought, 51 minutes of very good football … but we need to make those plays at the end of the game,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “We pride ourselves in this program on finishing, and we obviously didn’t get the job done on Saturday.

“It comes down to when you have a lead that you keep the pedal down, you finish the football game and you make the plays you need to make. When you look back to last year’s game, we lost momentum and had some opportunities to seize it back and did not do that.”

After outgaining the Wolverines by 37 yards and holding Mike Hart – the Big Ten’s leading rusher – to 106 rushing yards, finishing strong was the theme Monday as the Cats prepared to avenge last year’s loss to the Spartans.

“We started off really strong (last year), shutting them down and what not,” sophomore defensive end Corey Wootton said. “Then we kind of took our foot off of the pedal and we didn’t finish. This year, we’ve just been focused on finishing.

“Like this Saturday, we didn’t finish. We needed to finish. And this weekend we need to finish as well.”

Junior quarterback C.J. Bach