EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Payton Thorne threw two touchdown passes and ran for another to lead No. 12 Michigan State to a 30-27 victory over Penn State on Saturday.
Kennett Walker III rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries as the Spartans (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) bounced back from last week’s 56-7 loss to Ohio State. Michigan State finished undefeated at home for the first time since 2015.
Sean Clifford threw three touchdown passes, two to Jahan Dotson, for the Nittany Lions (7-5, 4-5). Penn State closed out the regular season with five losses in its last seven games.
Daequan Hardy’s 27-yard interception return for a touchdown put Penn State up 20-17. Thorne’s 1-yard plunge late in the third quarter gave the Spartans a 23-20 advantage.
Thorne connected with Jayden Reed on a 20-yard scoring pass on a fourth-and-15 with 5:10 left to give Michigan State some cushion.
Clifford threw to Parker Washington for a 15-yard TD in the final minute.
The Spartans scored touchdowns on their first two possessions, including a 99-yard drive, and led 17-14 at halftime.
The Spartans showed resiliency after their 49-point loss at Ohio State and put themselves in position for a New Year’s Day bowl. Coach Mel Tucker, who agreed to a 10-year contract extension earlier in the week, had his team ready to go as it scored on its first two possessions. The Spartans’ defense didn’t allow a point in the second half until the final minute.
Both teams are headed to bowls.