No. 5 MSU (11-1 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) defeated Penn State (7-5 overall, 4-4 Big Ten) 55-16 Saturday night at Spartan Stadium to clinch a share of the Big Ten East Division title and a showdown against No. 4 Iowa (12-0 overall, 8-0 Big Ten) in the Big Ten Championship game.
The Nittany Lions received the ball to start the game and took it from their own 35 to the MSU 31 in three plays before PSU quarterback Christian Hackenberg threw an interception to senior cornerback Arjen Colquhoun.
Senior quarterback Connor Cook's status was in question coming into the game, but he got the start and didn't miss a beat.
Cook went 5-for-6 on the opening drive for 63 yards, and the PSU turnover was capped off by a 29-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver R.J. Shelton. Junior kicker Michael Geiger missed the extra point, holding the MSU lead to just 6-0.
The Spartans weren't able to do anything on their next drive and the Nittany Lions responded with a nine-play 63-yard drive that stalled on the one-yard line forcing Penn State to kick a field goal, making it 6-3 at the beginning of the second quarter.
MSU failed to respond, but Penn State was forced to punt from their own five on the ensuing drive — which gave the Spartans quality field position, starting their next drive at PSU's 49.
Sophomore running back Gerald Holmes took over on the Spartans' second touchdown drive of the game.
47 of the 49 yards on the six-play drive came from Holmes, he had one catch for 24 yards and four carries for 23 yards and a touchdown, giving MSU a 13-3 lead.
The Nittany Lions were on a seven-play 42-yard drive before another turnover put them in a deep hole. A 10-yard pass from Hackenberg to senior tight end was fumbled and junior safety Demetrious Cox weaved through tacklers in the open field on a 77-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, making it 20-3 in favor of MSU after the extra point.
Penn State did its best to go into the half with some momentum. The Nittany Lions responded to the fumble with a 10-play 67-yard touchdown drive capped off by an eight-yard touchdown pass from Hackenberg to sophomore wide receiver Chris Godwin to end the first half down 10.
MSU opened the second half with an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. The drive ended with a 29-yard touchdown catch for senior wide receiver Aaron Burbridge that is likely to land the senior on SportsCenter's Top-10 plays.
The Spartan defense forced a three and out on the ensuing drive and MSU put its foot on the gas. The Spartans went on a 12-play, 69-yard touchdown drive to take a 34-10 lead after the extra point.
The drive culminated with a six-yard touchdown pass from Cook to junior tight end Josiah Price, Price's first touchdown since week eight against Indiana.
On the third play of the ensuing drive for Penn State, Hackenberg hit sophomore receiver Saeed Blacknall who took off for 77 yards, he was tracked down by sophomore safety Montae Nicholson who punched the ball loose, but Blacknall recovered his own fumble at the MSU 2-yard line.
Three plays, a defensive pass interference and four more plays later, the Nittany Lions scored on fourth and goal from the 5-yard line. Hackenberg hit Godwin for six to make it 34-16 after a failed 2-point conversion attempt.
Cook broke another school record on the following drive, taking sole possession of the record for total offense with a 16-yard completion to Shelton. Cook finished Saturday's game with 19-for-26 passing for 248 yards and three touchdowns.
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A few plays later freshman running back LJ Scott punched it in from six yards out to give MSU a 41-16 lead after the extra point. Scott's touchdown capped off a 7-play, 44-yard drive for the Spartans.
Penn State's next drive effectively ended the game, Hackenberg's pass was tipped by senior defensive end Shilique Calhoun and then intercepted by sophomore defensive lineman Malik McDowell who returned it for a touchdown and a 48-16 lead after the extra point.
Things then went from bad to worse for the Nittany Lions. Penn State muffed the following kick off and senior center Jack Allen lined up at running back for a nine-yard touchdown run on the following play.
Allen, at 296 pounds, looked like a man on a mission during his touchdown run that included five yards after contact courtesy of a stiff arm at about the 5-yard line.