It's been a long, hard road for the Michigan State Spartans this season.
Close losses. Bad breaks. Injuries. The ebodiment of Murphy's law, at times. And it looked like it all was coming up again at Camp Randall.
But finally, something went their way. And finally, the offense made big plays in the big moments. The result was sweet.
Andrew Maxwell went 9-of-11 on the final drive of the fourth quarter and the lone drive in overtime — both ending in touchdown passes — and MSU left Wisconsin with a 16-13 win.
The Badgers' 21-game home winning streak? Done. The Spartans' two-game losing streak? Over.
Everything was setting up for the Spartans to go home with another loss, especially when fullback Lawrence Thomas fumbled the ball at the MSU 18 with 8:17 left. However, the Michigan State defense made its usual big showing when its back was to the wall and held Wisconsin to a field goal.
Trailing 10-3, and having shown no signs of life, the offense finally came through for the defense. The plays were there to be made, and the offense finally made them.
On the final drive of regulation, Maxwell completed all but one pass, and finished it with a 5-yard shovel pass to Le'Veon Bell. He even ran for a first down on a second-and-5.
In overtime, the defense stopped Wisconsin on three straight downs and forced a field goal. And where nightmares of Iowa two weeks ago began to set in, Maxwell threw a beautiful pass into the end zone to Bennie Fowler for the game-winning touchdown.
After Fowler hauled in the pas, Maxwell put his hands in the air, turned toward the sideline and pointed, as if to say to the defense, "We got you." Then he pumped his first and ran to the end zone to celebrate. A celebration of redemption for himself and Fowler — and the whole offense.
Was it a pretty win? By no means. But it was a win nonetheless and it was sweet. It was sweet because it showed the potential this team has. It was sweet because the offense went beyond the potential it has — and made it real.
it was sweet because it flipped the script after three close, gut-wrenching losses.
It was sweet because it took the heaviness that fans had been feeling and lifted it.
"I thought Andrew Maxwell created at the end of the game. We grew a little bit today and that's a positive thing for us," Mark Dantonio said after the game.
Boy, did they. Here's to this not being the the final big moment this season, but a kick start for the rest of the year.