Purple daze: Cats fall behind Spartans early, lose 37-20

Matt Forman

No. 22 Northwestern fell into an early hole against No. 19 Michigan State and was unable to recover, falling to the Spartans 37-20. It was the first loss of the season for the Wildcats (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten).

After Michigan State jumped out to an early 17-0 lead, the two teams traded points the rest of the way, as the Spartans won their sixth consecutive game.

Michigan State (6-1, 3-0) did not commit a turnover all game while the Cats turned the ball over three times, leading to 17 points.

Turnovers contributed to the Cats’ early deficit. NU found itself down three scores just 12 minutes into the first quarter.

“You can’t spot a team in the Big Ten 17 points,” senior quarterback C.J. Bachér said. “Or else it’s going to be an uphill battle the rest of the way.”

Michigan State’s senior running back Javon Ringer, a Heisman Trophy candidate, rushed 35 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns, eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark for the season.

If there was an offensive star for NU, it was senior tailback Tyrell Sutton. Sutton totaled 183 all-purpose yards including a 66-yard rush, the longest of his career. He moved into second place in school history in all-purpose yardage, surpassing Darnell Autry.

Senior quarterback C.J. Bachér passed 61 times for 283 yards and a touchdown. But the senior gunslinger threw an interception with less than three minutes remaining in the second quarter, a play that resulted in a 14-point swing. Senior receiver Eric Peterman was a step ahead of his defender in the end zone, but Bachér’s pass was underthrown and intercepted by Johhny Adams. On its ensuing drive, Michigan State went 80 yards in 8 plays for a touchdown and went into halftime with a 24-7 advantage.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald said Bachér was “just a little late” on the throw to Peterman, one of many plays where the Cats came up just short.

“It’s definitely a game of inches,” Bachér said.

NU out-gained Michigan State by over 150 yards, putting up 459 total yards. But the turnovers proved costly.

Following the game, coach Pat Fitzgerald and several Cats stressed that the team has to “flush (the loss)” and move on.

“Maybe we needed it,” junior safety Brendan Smith said. “We are going to be a good team, we just need to play a complete game.”