MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Le'Veon Bell patiently looked for openings before he trampled through Minnesota's defense and dragged some of the Gophers with him.
Michigan State had to wait the whole Big Ten season for this, but the Spartans finally put together a comfortable victory.
Bell rumbled for a career-high 266 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to put the game away, leading Michigan State past Minnesota 26-10 on Saturday to secure a spot in a bowl game.
"We bring a name with us wherever we go, and we're going to bring people with us wherever we go," coach Mark Dantonio said. "So it'll be exciting."
Bell carried 35 times on a cold afternoon, Dan Conroy made four of his five field-goal attempts, three of them from 43 yards or longer, and the Spartans (6-6, 3-5) wore down the Gophers (6-6, 2-6) to finish 4-1 on the road this season.
"We can't lose today," Bell said, noting Dantonio's bowl game appearances in each of his first five years at Michigan State: "We didn't want to be the first team not to do it. So we did everything in our power to go out there and get that win."
Minnesota played the second half without coach Jerry Kill, after he had a seizure in the locker room. Athletic director Norwood Teague said he was resting comfortably afterward and didn't need to be hospitalized. The Gophers, now accustomed to his condition, said they weren't distracted, only disappointed by their performance. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys ran the team after halftime.
Aaron Hill's 33-yard interception return for a touchdown gave Minnesota a lead it kept for more than 18 minutes in the first half, but the Gophers finished with 96 total yards -- including just 4 yards rushing -- for their lowest output since at least 1996. According to STATS research, that's the fewest yards from scrimmage by a Big Ten team in five years. Michigan had 91 total yards against Ohio State on Nov. 17, 2007.
Philip Nelson threw three interceptions, two by Johnny Adams, and was replaced in the fourth quarter by Max Shortell, who was picked off too.
Despite the single-digit margin that lasted until 7:25 was left, when Bell jogged across the goal line from 8 yards out, this was downright domination for the Spartans considering how close all their games were this season. They lost five times in conference play by a total of 13 points, and their other two Big Ten wins were by seven points combined.
"That football, I don't think, gets enough credit," Claeys said, adding: "You could tell in the fourth quarter that they got a little blood in the water when they had the opportunity to win the ballgame. They picked it up a notch."
Continue reading this story on the...