It was a familiar formula on Saturday for Michigan State, and in the end, it produced an all too-common result.
Michigan State turned the ball over four times and the defense couldn’t get a stop late as Northwestern held on for a 23-20 victory in front of 75,101 at Spartan Stadium.
The Spartans (5-6, 2-5 Big Ten) finished winless at home in the Big Ten for the first time since 2006 and find themselves facing a must-win next week at Minnesota in order to finish the season bowl-eligible.
Michigan State had tied the game in the fourth quarter on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Maxwell to Tony Lippett, but Northwestern took less than two minutes to go back in front, getting a 27-yard field goal from Jeff Budzien.
The Wildcats took only 1:46 to march down the field and now hold a three-point lead with 7:30 left in the game.
Michigan State had a shot late in the fourth quarter, but punted with 2:46 to play and never got the ball back.
Maxwell was 22-for-42 but threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball at the Northwestern 1-yard line in the first half.
Northwestern (8-3, 4-3) likely locked up a trip to the Gator Bowl with the victory.