The Michigan State Spartans completed one of the biggest comebacks of the bowl season when it beat the Baylor Bears 42-41 in the 2015 Cotton Bowl. MSU starting quarterback Connor Cook threw the game winning touchdown pass to Keith Mumphery with 17 seconds left on the clock.
Baylor’s defensive line’s dominance of the Michigan State offensive line continued during the Spartans’ final drive. Cook struggled at times as he was constantly under duress and many of his throws went high, and wide. But he didn’t miss Mumphery on a third and 10 situation from the 11 yard line. The MSU offensive line held up, and Cooks found his wide receiver running a deep slant into the end zone, to tie the game at 41; the PAT gave the Spartans the final margin.
The Spartans booted the ensuing kick off deep, and gave Baylor the ball with 17 seconds left on the clock. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty was under pressure throughout the drive, until he threw an interception with two seconds left in the ball game.
Cook took a knee to kill the rest of the clock, and secure the victory for Michigan State.
Mumphery’s touchdown catch completed the 20-point comeback that started towards the end of the third quarter when running back Jeremy Langford scored on a two-yard touchdown run. Baylor also scored at the end of the third quarter as well, it was the last time the Bears scored.
The Bears tried to run out the clock in the fourth quarter instead of keeping their foot on the gas and scoring. While Michigan State’s defense stuffed Baylor’s attempts to run the ball, and it killed the Bears’ offensive capabilities — Baylor finished the day with -20 rushing yards.
Despite the offensive struggles, Baylor still had a chance to kick a field gull and continue to tack onto its lead. But the kick was blocked by the Spartans, and returned 36-yards. Michigan State then marched down the field for the game winning touchdown.
Michigan State’s defense struggled early on against the Bears offensive onslaught, but the defensive unit shut down Baylor in the final frame. The defense really deserves a lot of the credit for the come from behind victory, despite the fact that it gave up 10.6 yards per pass.