Clayton Thorson threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns, and Northwestern recovered from another second-half slip, beating No. 20 Michigan State 29-19 on Saturday.

The Spartans (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) entered with the nation’s top-ranked run defense and held Northwestern (2-3, 2-1) to 8 yards on the ground, but it didn’t matter. The Wildcats moved the ball consistently well through the air, and Michigan State’s offense was mostly inept except for a brief stretch in the third quarter.

Thorson threw a 21-yard scoring pass to Cameron Green with 15 seconds left in the third, and a 2-point conversion gave Northwestern a 22-19 lead.

The Wildcats missed a field goal with 6:41 to play, but Michigan State went 15 yards backward on the ensuing possession and had to punt. The Spartans held again defensively, and on the next possession, they had second-and-1 from their own 11. After two near-sacks, running back Connor Heyward was stopped on fourth down. Thorson scored on a 2-yard run to make it a 10-point game with 2:51 left.

Northwestern’s JJ Jefferson (12) celebrates his touchdown reception against Michigan State’s Tre Person (24) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

The Spartans took advantage of a first-quarter interception and led 3-0, but Thorson connected with Kyric McGowan for a 77-yard touchdown with 18 seconds left in the period. Thorson found JJ Jefferson for a 34-yard TD in the second, and Northwestern led 14-6 at halftime.

The Wildcats blew a 21-3 halftime lead in a loss to Akron and were up 17-0 in the first half in last weekend’s loss to Michigan. They also gave away the lead against Michigan State in a quick sequence during the third quarter.

Felton Davis scored for the Spartans on a 48-yard reverse, and although a 2-point conversion attempt failed, Michigan State got the ball back on an interception and took a 19-14 lead on Brian Lewerke’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Davis.

Northwestern recovered, however, and won on a day when the Wildcats clearly looked like the better team.

Michigan State’s Felton Davis (18) is stopped by Northwestern’s Jared McGee (41) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

THE TAKEAWAY

Northwestern: The Wildcats came close last weekend against Michigan and fully deserved this win. Northwestern had the right plan, throwing 47 passes against a Michigan State team that excels at stopping the run, and the Wildcats also were impressive defensively in the final quarter.

Michigan State: With plenty of returning starters from a team that won 10 games a season ago, the Spartans have been a disappointment so far. They’ve had injuries — running back LJ Scott and receiver Cody White were out Saturday — and both the offensive line and secondary now seem like real problems.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke throws a pass against Northwestern during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

It’s hard to see Michigan State staying in the Top 25 after this double-digit loss at home.

UP NEXT

Northwestern: The Wildcats host Nebraska next Saturday.

Michigan State: The Spartans play at Penn State next Saturday.

Northwestern’s JJ Jefferson (12) catches a pass for a touchdown against Michigan State’s Tre Person (24) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

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Source: The Associated Press

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