SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Sports Network) - Steven Sheffield came off the bench and sparked a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, as his touchdown pass to Detron Lewis proved to be the difference in Texas Tech's 41-31 victory over Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl.
Down, 31-27, midway through the final frame, Sheffield relieved Taylor Potts and connected on 6-of-6 passes for 75 yards on the pivotal march, which was capped by an 11-yard rifle to Lewis with 5:03 to play.
Franklin Mitchem's leaping interception of a Kirk Cousins pass on the ensuing possession and Baron Batch's touchdown run put the finishing touches on a tumultuous week for the Red Raiders, who fired embittered head coach Mike Leach on Wednesday amid allegations of abuse of a player.
Potts injured a finger on his non-throwing hand in the fourth after throwing for 383 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Texas Tech (9-4), which dropped a 47-34 decision to Ole Miss in last year's Cotton Bowl.
Lewis ended with 114 yards on 10 catches, while Batch added 100 yards and two scores on 22 carries in the win.
Cousins finished with 219 yards and two interceptions on 13-of-27 passing for the Spartans (6-7), who have dropped four straight bowl games. Keshawn Martin caught a TD from Cousins and tossed another to Blair White, who logged 113 yards on six grabs.
Edwin Baker amassed 98 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries for Michigan State, which was playing shorthanded after head coach Mark Dantonio suspended several players -- including three starters -- and dismissed two others for their role in dorm brawl.
With defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill serving as interim head coach and Adam James -- the player involved in the Leach incident -- standing on the sideline, Texas Tech went in front, 34-31, when Lewis caught Sheffield's quick out at the right sideline and spun his way across the goal line.
Following Mitchem's pick at the MSU 35, the Red Raiders went for it twice on fourth down and converted both times, as Alexander Torres caught a six-yard slant on 4th-and-5 and Lewis hauled in a five-yard out on 4th-and-4.
Batch's 13-yard jaunt over the goal line with 2:08 remaining clinched the fulfilling win.
Cousins was picked off in Texas Tech territory on the game's opening touch, and the giveaway turned into seven points when Batch took a handoff and ran into the end zone on third down from the MSU three.
Baker tied the game by running through the TTU defensive line for a 46-yard scamper at the 3:47 mark of the opening quarter.
Matt Williams' 21-yard field goal on the second play of the second quarter put the Red Raiders back on top, and Potts made it 17-7 when he found Lyle Leong for a two-yard score at the 11-minute mark. The TD was set up by Austin Zouzalik's 51-yard reception on a flea flicker.
Three minutes later, Cousins cut into the deficit when he escaped a sack and found Martin behind the secondary for a 48-yard touchdown.
Williams missed a 48-yarder on the ensuing drive but booted a 38-yard try just before halftime after Brett Swenson's 52-yard attempt for MSU was blocked.
Swenson made up for his missed field goal when he recovered Eric Stephens' fumble on the second half kickoff. Backup quarterback Keith Nichol gave the Spartans their first lead, 21-20, on a seven-yard draw following the turnover.
With 6 1/2 minutes left in the third, TTU's Jacoby Franks hauled in a 14-yard pass in the end zone to cap a nine-play, 92-yard drive highlighted by Batch's 49-yard reception.
A pair of trick plays later in the frame gave Michigan State the lead again. After punter Aaron Bates hit Charlie Gantt for an 18-yard pass on a fake field goal try, Martin lined up behind center and hit White for an eight-yard score.
Potts was picked off on the third play of the fourth, leading to a Swenson 44- yard field goal to increase Michigan State's lead to 31-27 with 8:05 to play.
Sheffield then stepped on their field and swung the game's momentum.