EAST LANSING, Mich. --- No matter where Mark Dantonio is watching, the Michigan State coach influences his Spartans.
With Dantonio missing for a second consecutive weekend, 24th-ranked Michigan State upended No. 11 Wisconsin 34-24 Saturday, and the Spartans did it with the same aggressive, gutsy play calling they used when Dantonio was on the sideline. Michigan State went for it on fourth down three times, including in the final minutes when Kirk Cousins helped ice the game with a 1-yard touchdown pass to B.J. Cunningham.
"It's not too dull around East Lansing these days, is it?" said offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, who has led the team in Dantonio's absence.
Dantonio, who had a mild heart attack Sept. 19, planned to return for this game, but the Spartans (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) announced hours before kickoff that he had been hospitalized again Thursday because of a blood clot in his leg. School officials said his prognosis was excellent.
The school said Dantonio planned to watch on television, and Treadwell was coy when asked if the coaching staff had any contact with him during the game.
"I don't know how much that I had, but I think at times some of the assistants would have potentially had some contact with him," Treadwell said. "He was involved as much as he could be, absolutely."
Dantonio's heart attack came immediately after Michigan State's overtime win over Notre Dame in which the Spartans scored the winning touchdown on a fake field goal in overtime. Michigan State didn't do anything that tricky Saturday, but the Spartans were unafraid to go for it in short-yardage situations. Leading 27-24 in the fourth quarter, Michigan State went on a 15-play, 84-yard drive that used up 7:57 and ended with Cunningham's touchdown catch on fourth down.
The Spartans' win sets up a tantalizing matchup next week: undefeated Michigan State at undefeated Michigan. The Spartans are 5-0 for the first time since starting 6-0 under Nick Saban in 1999. The last win in that streak came against the Wolverines.
Wisconsin (4-1, 0-1) forced three early turnovers but still trailed 20-10 at the half. Keshawn Martin gave Michigan State a 13-10 lead in at about the midway point of the second quarter, catching a punt at his own 26, running straight up the middle and then veering to his right after crossing midfield.
CARLOS OSORIO/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Michigan State wideout Keshawn Martin (right) outruns Wisconsin's J.J. Watt for a touchdown on a 74-yard punt return.
Martin added two catches for 34 yards.