ARLINGTON, Texas — Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook capped a furious fourth-quarter rally from 20 points down with a 10-yard touchdown pass to receiver Keith Mumphery with 17 seconds left, lifting the Spartans to a 42-41 victory over Baylor in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day at AT&T Stadium.
“It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish,” Cook said. “It sounds cliche, but it really is.”
Cook passed for 324 yards in an offensive shootout that saw both teams combine for a Cotton Bowl-record 1,145 yards. Both of Cook’s touchdown passes came in the fourth quarter after Michigan State trailed 41-21.
“We just keep winning and finding a way,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “We made some plays. We didn’t win the turnover ratio, but we got the block (field goal). We stopped the run, but they were able to throw the ball certainly. Offensively, we just kept playing. I’m just so proud of our football team.”
The Spartans’ comeback ruined a Cotton Bowl-record 550 yards passing from Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty. The senior completed 36 of 51 passes with three touchdowns and ran for a score.
But mistakes in the fourth quarter, including a missed and blocked field goal attempt and costly penalties, helped doom the Bears.
“We let things get on the table, let some things get away from us,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “It’s quite honestly an embarrassment to me as a coach. I feel bad for our players, I feel bad for our football team and I feel bad for our university.”
The No. 8 Spartans ended the year 11-2, with the losses coming to teams currently in the top four — No. 2 Oregon and No. 4 Ohio State.
Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford piled up 162 yards rushing on 27 carries with three touchdowns. The senior completed his collegiate career with 10 consecutive 100-yard games and 18 overall.
The No. 5 Bears, left out of the initial four-team College Football Playoff, finished the season 11-2 to tie last year’s school record for wins. The Big 12 co-champions had taken control of the game by scoring 27 consecutive points after falling behind 14-7.
“It’s a tough deal, especially when you feel you have the game in control,” said Petty, the game’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player. “We had things go the other way. Momentum is a tough deal. When you have a team that is starting to feel momentum, you have to shut it down. That’s what we didn’t do.”
Baylor wideouts KD Cannon and Corey Coleman each had more than 100 yards receiving. Cannon (eight catches for 197 yards) hauled in touchdown bombs of 74 and 49 yards, and Coleman (7-150) had a score.
Cook started the rally by connecting with tight end Josiah Price on an 8-yard score with 12:09 left. Michigan State recovered the ensuing onside kick but turned the ball over on Cook’s second interception after reaching the Bears’ 14-yard line.
Michigan State got the ball back and drove 60 yards to get within 41-35 on Langford’s 1-yard dive with 4:55 left.
Baylor had the clock down near a minute left before lining up for kicker Chris Callahan’s 43-yard field-goal attempt. Callahan had missed a 46-yarder early in the fourth.
With Baylor trying to make it a nine-point game, Michigan State defensive end Marcus Rush blocked Callahan’s try and safety RJ Williamson returned it to the Bears’ 45.
Cook converted a fourth-and-10 from the Baylor 27 before finding Mumphery on third down for the winner.
“Down the stretch, our quarterback played very well,” Dantonio said. “He made the plays we needed to make.”
Briles lamented his team’s inability to run the ball, especially in the fourth quarter. Baylor had negative-20 yards rushing.
“We certainly would have liked to run the ball better down the stretch when you have a lead,” Briles said.
The back-and-forth first quarter featured two long touchdown drives by Michigan State and two long scoring passes from Baylor.
Of the Bears’ five touchdowns, none elicited more of a raucous response from the pro-Baylor crowd than Petty’s 18-yard toss to offensive lineman LaQuan McGowan. Lined up as a tight end, the 390-pound backup guard took the short throw and rumbled untouched for his first touchdown.
Missouri 33, Minnesota 17
Marcus Murphy rushed for 157 yards on 12 carries and Russell Hansbrough added 114 yards and a score on 15 attempts as the Tigers pulled away in the fourth quarter to win the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.
Maty Mauk rebounded from two early interceptions to throw two touchdown passes and run for another, and Bud Sasser caught seven passes for 68 yards and two scores for Missouri (11-3). Mauk went 12-of-19 for 97 yards and rushed for 38 yards as the Tigers rolled up 434 total yards, including 337 on the ground.
Mitch Leidner finished 21-of-31 for 258 and a touchdown for Minnesota (8-5), which was in its first January bowl game since 1962. David Cobb rushed for 81 yards on 21 carries and Maxx Williams had seven receptions for 98 yards and a score for the Golden Gophers.
Mauk’s 18-yard TD run put the Tigers ahead for good 19-14 with 9:16 left in the third quarter. Murphy had a punt return score called back early in the fourth quarter, but Hansbrough busted a 78-yard TD run five plays later to extend the Tigers’ lead to 26-17 with 9:22 left, and Murphy broke a 69-yard run to set up Mauk’s 7-yard TD pass to Sasser to seal it.
Wisconsin 34, Auburn 31 (OT)
Melvin Gordon rushed for an Outback Bowl-record 251 yards and Rafael Gaglianone booted a 25-yard field in overtime as the Badgers edged the Tigers in Tampa, Florida.
Gordon scored three times and finished the season with 2,587 yards — second most in FBS history — as Wisconsin (11-3) rushed for an Outback Bowl-record 400 yards. Joel Stave completed 14-of-27 passes for 121 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions before the Badgers defense held Auburn to a missed field goal on the second series of OT.
Nick Marshall went 15-of-22 through the air for 217 yards and a pair of touchdowns for Auburn (8-5), which finished the season with four losses in its last five games. Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers, whose chance came to an end when Daniel Carlson’s 45-yard field goal try hit the right goalpost.
Auburn had a pair of interceptions in the first half while Marshall hit Ricardo Louis in stride for a 66-yard touchdown with 8:01 left in the second quarter for a 14-7 lead at intermission. Gordon broke a 25-yard TD run on the first possession of the second half and ran 53 yards for a score on fourth down to give Wisconsin a 21-17 lead late in the third quarter.