Things weren’t going well for Michigan State early in the second half at Illinois on Saturday.
In addition to falling behind in the third quarter, the Spartans also appeared to lose their best player for the rest of the game. DT Malik McDowell left the game with a left ankle injury, and it seemed unlikely he would return against the Illini.
McDowell, who could be one of the top draft picks in 2017, has dealt with multiple injury issues this season. The junior entered Saturday with only 1.5 sacks and seven tackles for a loss in 2016.
The 6-foot-6, 276-pound junior was a second-team All-Big Ten selection last season. Michigan State, trying to snap a six-game losing streak, was trailing Illinois 17-9 in the third quarter after McDowell’s injury.