DALLAS (FWAA) Running back Kenneth Walker III stole the show with five touchdowns, including the game-winner from 23 yards out with five minutes left, as the Michigan State Spartans remained undefeated with 37-33 win over rival Michigan. Rallying from a 16-point deficit in the second half before a sellout crowd to win the Paul Bunyan Trophy earned MSU the Cheez-It Bowl National Team of the Week honor for games of the weekend of Oct. 30, as selected by the
Football Writers Association of America.
This is a record ninth time for Michigan State (8-0) to earn this honor from the FWAA and first since this same weekend last season, Oct. 31, 2020, when it won 27-24 in Ann Arbor. This is the third consecutive week for a Big Ten team to earn the Team of the Week nod following Purdue (0ct. 16) and Illinois (Oct. 23). All Division I FBS and FCS schools are eligible to be selected.
Walker was sensational in front of the packed crowd of 76,549, rushing 23 times for 197 yards and the five scores, the most anyone had scored in the 114-game history of the series and the most ever by any opponent against Michigan. Three of Walkers touchdowns came from 20 or more yards. Payton Thorne completed 19-of-30 passes for 196 yards · 12 of them to Payton Thomas for 80 yards · and carried seven times for 29 yards. Three players had 10 or more tackles for MSU led by Quavaris Crouch with 13.
"That was an epic game, that was a classic," said Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker. "That was a big-time game. So it's an honor and a privilege to be a part of something like that."
Michigan held a 30-14 lead midway through the third quarter. On the next possession, MSU rallied with a key fourth-and-four play where Thorne hit Reed on a 28-yard pass to the Michigan one. Walker scored on the next play and later bolted 58 yards for another touchdown to start the fourth quarter. MSU recovered a fumble that led to Walkers final touchdown and a 37-33 lead as the Spartans outscored the Wolverines 23-10 in the second half.
Michigan State is 8-0 for the first time since its 2015 season in which it made the initial College Football Playoff, and has now won 10 of the last 14 games vs. Michigan. This marks MSU's first win over an AP Top 10 team since winning at No. 8 Penn State on Oct. 13, 2018, and its highest-ranked win since topping No. 4 Iowa in the 2015 Big Ten Championship Game.
The Spartans play at Purdue at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ABC.
The other National Team of the Week nominee for the weekend of Oct. 30 is:
Houston (7-1): The Cougars upset No. 19 SMU 44-37, scoring a dramatic victory with Marcus· Jones 100-yard kickoff return with 17 seconds left immediately following an SMU field goal that had tied the game. Quarterback Clayton Tune led the Cougars with a career day, hitting 27 passes for 412 yards and four touchdowns that at one point gave Houston a 17-0 lead.
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America
consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives
in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday
operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team.
For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive
Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Cheez-It Bowl
The Cheez-It Bowl takes place on
Wednesday, Dec. 29 at 5:45 p.m. ET in Orlando, Fla. The postseason contest is hosted
by Florida Citrus Sports, a Central Florida-based nonprofit, and annually features
top teams from the Atlantic Coast and Big 12 Conferences. Cheez-It, the best-selling
cracker brand in the United States, signed on as the game's title sponsor in 2020
as part of its season-long support of college football. Last bowl season, No. 21
Oklahoma State beat No. 18 Miami 37-34 in front of an audience of Cheez-It "Wheel
Live Fans." This year's Cheez-It Bowl will be the 32nd edition of the game and its
21st in Orlando.