Michigan State Spartans running back Le'Veon Bell (24) dives across the goal line to score a touchdown against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium.(Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE)
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - It was an unscheduled team meeting, but perhaps the most important one of Michigan State's season.
Mark Dantonio gathered his team together on the field as the first quarter ended at Indiana's Memorial Stadium, stood in the middle of a mass of bodies and barked like a man faced with a crisis.
His football team trailed 17-0 to Indiana -- a team it beat 55-3 last season. It had gained 22 yards and allowed 183. It had committed four costly personal-foul penalties.
Its season was up for grabs.
The Spartans responded with 14 straight points, gave up 10 straight, then dominated the second half for a 31-27 victory - avoiding the biggest upset loss of Dantonio's six-season tenure and an early farewell to the Big Ten race.
MSU (4-2 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) shut out IU (2-3, 0-2) in the second half and got the winning score when junior receiver Bennie Fowler - benched to start the game in favor of freshman Aaron Burbridge - took a short Andrew Maxwell pass and turned it into a 36-yard touchdown with 6:35 left.
Burbridge had a huge day as well, catching eight passes for 134 yards and becoming the first MSU freshman since Terry Love in 2004 to exceed 100 yards receiving in a game. Maxwell threw for 291 yards.
And the MSU defense, gashed early by IU's high-tempo passing attack, looked like itself again in a suffocating second half. Still, the Spartans did not resemble a Big Ten contender for most of the afternoon.
BY JOE REXRODE - DETROIT FREE PRESS