TEMPE, Ariz. -- Something about bowl games brings out the best in Dan Conroy.
Conroy's 47-yard field goal with 1:01 remaining pushed Michigan State to a 17-16 victory in the inaugural Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday, giving him a game-winner for the second consecutive season.
"With so many close games losing like we did this season, to have one go our way was definitely exciting," said Conroy, whose 28-yarder in the third overtime beat Georgia, 33-30, in the Outback Bowl following the 2011 season.
Michigan State (7-6) had lost five games by a total of 13 points before overcoming a 13-0 halftime deficit to beat TCU (7-6), which finished with a winning record in its first season in the Big 12.
"It felt great to actually get a win like this, coming down to a kick," Spartans halfback LeVeon Bell said. "Everybody was confident he was going to make it. He had done it so many times in practice. He came up clutch for us."
Bell, the Big Ten's leading rusher, ran for 145 yards and a touchdown. He also completed a 29-yard pass after taking a direct snap in the wildcat formation on Michigan State's first scoring drive, a 90-yard march engineered by backup quarterback Connor Cook with 34 seconds left in the third quarter. It ended with Cook's first career touchdown pass, a 15-yarder to Aaron Burbridge.
"We remained resilient," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said "Connor Cook did a nice job on the 90-yard drive. He was effective. We ran the ball well. Kept bouncing back."
Bell, a 237-pound junior, finished with 1,783 yards rushing, and he was coy about his future after being surrounded by speculation that he will bypass his senior season and declare for the NFL draft.
"I'm not sure yet. I haven't thought about it," Bell said. "We'll talk to 'Coach D' (Mark Dantonio) and the rest of the coaches and see what happens."
TCU freshman Jaden Oberkrom had given the Horned Frogs a 16-14 lead on a 53-yard field goal with 2:42 remaining. But Cook led the Spartans on a 45-yard drive in less than two minutes, completing two passes and benefiting from a defensive holding penalty in the secondary after a third-down incompletion.
Cook, who had completed five passes this season while playing in two games, was 4-for-7 for 47 yards in relief of starter Andrew Maxwell.
Bell gave the Spartans a 14-13 lead on a 4-yard touchdown run with 7:00 remaining, two plays after TCU punt returner Skye Dawson muffed a punt deep in his own territory that Spartans' safety R.J. Williamson recovered on the 4-yard line.
"He (Bell) did a really good job," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "He got 145 yards, and we feel like we have a pretty good defense. We let him out of a hole on one run."
Bell got better as the game wore on. After being held to 38 yards on 11 carries in the first half, he had 55 yards in the third quarter and had 52 more in the fourth as the bigger Spartans' offensive front wore down TCU. He was named the most valuable offensive player.
"We just wanted to stick to our guns, stick to what we want to do," Bell said. "We started wearing those guys out."
Added TCU junior cornerback Jason Verrett: "We just didn't do our keys and stay with our assignments. We made mistakes and it cost us."
Michigan State has 29 victories since 2010, tied with Nebraska and Virginia Tech for 14th among BCS schools.
TCU redshirt freshman quarterback Tyrone Boykin accounted for 238 yards total offense, but the Horned Frogs had only five first downs in the second half. The Horned Frogs had 288 yards to the Spartans' 227, but they had to settle for Oberkrom field goals twice after long first-half drives.
"I thought both teams played hard," Patterson said. "I saw two teams play clean, play hard and go about their business. One team has to win. It's too bad it wasn't us. You have to make a play."
The second meeting between the two schools -- the first was 59 years ago, a 26-19 victory at Michigan State on Oct. 20, 1953 -- was slow to develop.
The initial first down of the game came on a pass interference penalty against Michigan State midway through the first quarter, and TCU used that as a springboard for a 73-yard scoring drive that ended on halfback Matthew Tucker's 4-yard touchdown run. Tucker lined in the slot left in a five-wide receiver formation, took a handoff after going in motion and ran untouched around the right side. It was senior Tucker's 33rd career touchdown, third in school history.
Oberkrom kicked a 47-yard field goal on TCU's next possession, set up on a 59-yard pass from Boykin to Kolby Listenbee on the final play of the first quarter. It was freshman Listenbee's first catch of the season.
Boykin's 61-yard pass to Josh Boyce set up Oberkrom's 31-yard field goal for a 13-0 lead with 8:18 remaining in the first half.
NOTES: TCU made its school record eighth consecutive bowl appearance, and its 11 in 12 seasons under Patterson. Michigan State played in a bowl game for a school-record sixth straight season, all under Dantonio. ... TCU played more true freshmen (16) than scholarship seniors (11) this season. ... Michigan State's senior class entered the bowl season 34-18 in the last four seasons, second in school history to the 37 victories by last year's senior class. TCU's seniors were 43-8 in the last five seasons, counting a redshirt year.