Mark Benson caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Len Williams with 1:48 left to give Northwestern a 16-13 Big Ten Conference victory over Michigan State on Saturday.
Benson broke clear behind defensive back Brain Winters, then caught the pass while beginning to fall backwards.
Northwestern improved to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten, and Michigan State, one of three teams to share the conference title a year ago, dropped to 1-7 and 1-4.
Northwestern, which upset Illinois, 17-11, last week, has won two in a row for the first time in five years.
Michigan State led, 13-9, most of the second half before Williams marched the Wildcats 83 yards in 12 plays for the winner.
Williams connected with Benson for gains of 22 and 18 yards on that drive, and tried to pass to him in the end zone from nine yards out. The play misfired, but freshman defensive back Stan Callender was whistled for pass interference.
That put the ball on the Michigan State two. Williams slipped on the next play for a loss of five yards, then found Benson for the go-ahead touchdown.
Benson caught 10 passes for 150 yards.
Michigan State burned the Northwestern defense for two big touchdown plays in the first half.
The Spartans took a 7-3 lead on Jim Miller's 25-yard pass to Courtney Hawkins, who found an opening between defensive backs Willie Lindsey and Marlon Collins.
Williams countered with an 18-yard scoring pass to Benson, who overcame tight coverage from Winters.
Michigan State tailback Tico Duckett opened the second quarter with a 75-yard touchdown run. Duckett broke through a hole on the right side of the Northwestern line, then cut back and weaved through the rest of the Wildcat defense for the score.