No. 12 Michigan State football team bounces back with 30-27 snowy victory over Penn State
EAST LANSING — Michigan State was unfazed by injuries, illness, snowy conditions and an embarrassing loss.
The Spartans put all that behind them and finished the regular season on a high note.
Payton Thorne threw two touchdown passes and ran for another to lead No. 12 Michigan State to a 30-27 victory over Penn State on Saturday.
Kenneth Walker III rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries as the Spartans (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) bounced back from last week’s 56-7 loss to Ohio State. MSU finished undefeated at home for the first time since 2015.
“At the end of the day, it really comes down to mental and physical toughness,” coach Mel Tucker said. “That’s a big part of it.”
Sean Clifford threw three touchdown passes, two to Jahan Dotson, for the Nittany Lions (7-5, 4-5). Penn State closed out the regular season with five losses in its last seven games.
Walker was questionable to play after leaving the Ohio State game early due to an ankle injury. He instead took on a workhorse role.
Daequan Hardy’s 27-yard interception return for a touchdown put Penn State up 20-17. Thorne’s 1-yard plunge late in the third quarter gave the Spartans a 23-20 advantage.
Thorne connected with Jayden Reed on a 20-yard scoring pass on a fourth-and-15 with 5:10 left to give Michigan State some cushion. Reed made a leaping grab over a defender.
Walker was named a finalist for the Maxwell and the Doak Walker awards on Tuesday.
He added to his resume on Saturday with 138 rushing yards, giving him 1,636 yards for the season. He added his 18th rushing touchdown this season in the snowy conditions.