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Michigan State's Defense Too Tough For Gophers

Updated: 12/01/2013 9:22 AM
Created: 11/30/2013 2:03 PM KSTP.com

Jeremy Langford ran for 134 yards and a touchdown, and No. 11 Michigan State wrapped up an unbeaten regular season in Big Ten play with a 14-3 victory over Minnesota on Saturday.

The Spartans (11-1, 8-0) finished a perfect Big Ten regular season for only the third time. They also did it in 1965 and 1966, when they only had to play seven conference games.

Michigan State will face Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game next weekend. The Spartans had already wrapped up the Legends Division title, but there was no letdown against Minnesota (8-4, 4-4).

The Spartans' top-ranked defense forced three turnovers and kept the Golden Gophers out of the end zone, repeating a formula that has brought Michigan State within a win of the Rose Bowl.

The Spartans went undefeated at home for the third time in four years. They took the lead right away Saturday on Langford's 15-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, which capped a seven-play, 80-yard drive.

Minnesota's Philip Nelson attempted only seven passes in the first half, and two of them were picked off by Michigan State's Trae Waynes, but the Spartans struggled to extend the lead.

Chris Hawthorne's 21-yard field goal made it 7-3, and the Spartans missed a chance to score at the end of the half when Connor Cook was intercepted at the Minnesota 24 by Derrick Wells in the final seconds.

Michigan State went 75 yards in eight plays to start the third quarter and led 14-3 after Cook's 12-yard scoring pass to Josiah Price.

Minnesota had a chance to get back in the game in the fourth when backup quarterback Mitch Leidner directed a drive deep into Michigan State territory. But Leidner was sacked and fumbled, and the Spartans recovered at their own 14 with 4:45 to play.

Minnesota's David Cobb ran for 101 yards, not a bad day against a Michigan State team ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense. But Nelson went 6 of 18 for 77 yards, and Leidner was 3 of 7 for 48 yards.

Cook went 10 of 20 for 143 yards with an interception.

Michigan State held an opponent without a touchdown for the fifth time in the last six games. The Spartans won despite minimal contributions from the offense. Michigan State went 0 for 8 on third down.

Minnesota was held without an offensive touchdown for the second straight game after losing 20-7 to Wisconsin last weekend.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Michigan State's Jeremy Langford, right, rushes against Minnesota's Damien Wilson during the first quarter.
Photo: AP/Al Goldis

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