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Thursday, December 28, 2017 | 9:00 PM ET | SDCCU Stadium | San Diego, California
FS1 | Spartan Sports Network



Matchup

Michigan State
(9-3)

Spartans

Head Coach: Mark Dantonio (11th season)
Official Site: MSUSpartans.com

Washington State
(9-3)

Cougars

Head Coach: Mike Leach (6th season)
Official Site: WSUCougars.com

Holiday Bowl Blog

Daily updates on MSU's week in San Diego for the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl will be available on msuspartans.com. Fans can also follow on Facebook (MSUAthletics), Twitter (@msu_football), Instagram (msu_spartans) and YouTube (MSUSpartanAthletics).


Logo  Day 7: Thursday, Dec. 28

Michigan State ended its incredible week in San Diego in style with a dominating 42-17 victory over No. 18 Washington State in the 40th annual Holiday Bowl, the largest margin of victory in a bowl game in school history. The Spartans not only became just the eighth team in school history to win at least 10 games in a season, but also gave head coach Mark Dantonio his 100th victory as head coach at MSU.

"I just want to congratulate our football team and our coaching staff on this win, this program win," said Dantonio. "Program win in every respect. Especially the fact that it's our 10th win this season which is what we came out here for today. We came out here on sort of a mission and our players did an outstanding job I thought, all the things you have to do in the bowl games; they kept their focus in meetings and kept their focus in practices. We got great practices out here and I think we showed up tonight."

Sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke tied a Spartan bowl record with three touchdown passes to earn Holiday Bowl Offensive MVP honors, while senior linebacker Chris Frey recovered a fumble that led to a touchdown and tied for the team lead with six tackles to pick up the Defensive MVP trophy. Several other Spartans had impressive bowl performances as well - check out all of the notes here.

The Spartans will finish the 2017 season ranked in the national polls for a seventh time under Dantonio, and with 19 starters returning on offense and defense, the future looks incredibly bright for MSU heading into 2018.

Logo  Day 6: Wednesday, Dec. 27

After a week enjoying sunny San Diego, the No. 16 Michigan State football team is ready to take on No. 18 Washington State on Thursday night in the 40th annual San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl.

MSU head coach Mark Dantonio and WSU head coach Mike Leach answered questions on Wednesday morning in the final press conference before the game.

"I would like to thank them (the Holiday Bowl committee) personally and the program for everything they have done for us," said Dantonio in his opening statement. "I think it's 1 degree back home today, so we're glad to be out here and we're motivated to play a good football game.

"I think every time you have an opportunity to play a football game, you've got to be ready and you've got to be fresh, and your mindset has to be correct, so we have to make sure that is in place. The opportunity to get 10, whether it is us or Washington State, puts us in a double digit-type win category, both football teams, and not too many football teams in the country can do that on a yearly basis. That's our goal as we came out here was to play our best football and move it forward."

The Spartans and Cougars then attended the National Funding Holiday Bowl Kickoff Luncheon before hundreds of fans in a program that featured the marching bands from both schools, comments from both head coaches, and a question-and-answer session with FOX sports analyst Joel Klatt.

For one of the questions, Klatt asked the Spartan captains who the best singer on the team was, and the answer was sophomore cornerback Josh Butler. Klatt then had Butler sing on the spot, and the Mesquite, Texas, native didn't disappoint, singing the opening lines to "Lean On Me" to a rousing applause. The luncheon concluded with the Spartans singing the MSU Fight Song, "Victory for MSU," in front of the entire crowd.

Following the luncheon and afternoon meetings, MSU held a brief walk through on a practice field outside of SDCCU Stadium, then took a team photo inside the stadium almost 24 hours from kickoff on Thursday night.

The Spartans were scheduled to watch a team movie in the hotel later at night after a team dinner.

MSU will hold team meetings throughout the day on Thursday before arriving at SDCCU Stadium approximately two hours from kickoff. MSU (9-3) and WSU (9-3) will meet at 9:05 p.m. EST/6:05 p.m. PST; the game will be televised nationally on FS1.

Logo  Day 5: Tuesday, Dec. 26

Michigan State presented aviation electronics technician Tyrese Jamison a Spartan jersey during the tour of the USS Essex on Tuesday. Jamison will be on the MSU sideline on Thursday as an honorary captain at the Holiday Bowl Game.
Michigan State presented aviation electronics technician Tyrese Jamison a Spartan jersey during the tour of the USS Essex on Tuesday. Jamison will be on the MSU sideline on Thursday as an honorary captain at the Holiday Bowl Game.

It was an eventful day for the Michigan State football team on Tuesday as kickoff nears for the 40th annual San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl.

With a light schedule earlier in the day that included meetings and film, one of the highlights of the week in San Diego took place in the afternoon as the Spartans had the honor of getting an exclusive tour of the USS Essex.

The second ship to be commissioned in the WASP-class of multipurpose amphibious assault ships, the principle mission of the 844-foot long, 44,000-ton USS Essex (LHD 2) is to conduct prompt, sustained operations at sea, primarily as the centerpiece and flagship of the Amphibious Ready Group. LHDs provide the means to transport, deploy, command and support all elements of a Marine landing force of over 2,000 troops during an assault by air and amphibious craft.

The privilege of being able to visit the USS Essex was not lost on the Spartans.

"It was really special today to have the opportunity to go through a ship like this, and see it up close and personal," said Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio. "You have a respect for what everybody goes through here in terms of being on this ship and being deployed out at sea for seven to nine months at a time.

"We always talk about making life moments for our players, especially on bowl trips, and I think this is something they'll never forget. It's really hard to put into words what we just saw with the immenseness of everything."

The tour began with a brief program that included opening remarks from the commanding officer of the USS Essex, Capt. Jason A. Burns, and a presentation of the Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp Trophy to longtime Spartan head strength and conditioning coach Ken Mannie.

"This is the greatest honor I've ever received. This is unbelievable," said Mannie, as the trophy is given to a person in the program who best exemplifies the spirit of unselfish dedication and teamwork which resulted in little recognition or acclaim, but contributed significantly to an outstanding 2017 season for the team. "I will cherish this for the rest of my life."

"I think it kind of put everything in perspective for him, in terms of what he's done for this football team," said Dantonio. "When I sat down and asked myself, `who best embodies what this award meant,' I thought of Ken Mannie. He's had such a big impact on so many of our players over the course of his 23 years, and he's been very involved in everybody's life and very involved in the success of this program."



In addition, aviation electronics technician third class Tyrese Jamison was named a Spartan honorary captain for the Holiday Bowl. Jamison was presented a Michigan State jersey from Dantonio and took a group photo with the entire team.

It was also an emotional visit for senior captain linebacker Chris Frey, who has several members of his family that have either served or are currently serving in the military, including his father, Chris, who was in the Navy.

"It meant a lot to me," said Frey. "I have huge family ties to the military, with a bunch of family members in the Marines, my dad was in the Navy, and a couple relatives in the Army, so some of the things that we were able to do on this trip were something that some of many family members were never able to do. To be with Coach Dantonio to get the VIP tour was just such an unbelievable experience, it was awesome."

The players then had a chance to see all levels of the ship and ask questions to members of the crew on board. In addition, Capt. Burns took Dantonio and members of the Spartan Eagle leadership council on a VIP tour.

"We were on the flight deck and they were talking about all of their duties and things, and we were talking with one of the girls that was up there that works on the ship and she said, `yeah I graduated high school a couple months ago,' so that really sunk in that we're over here playing football for fun and you're over here fighting for your life and for our country," remarked Frey. "It's crazy to know that there are people younger than us on this ship that are fighting for our country. It was just a humbling opportunity, awesome experience, and you've just got to enjoy every second of it."

"When you ask our players how many of them know someone in the armed services, it's over 90 percent of hands that go up," Dantonio said. "They all have friends or relatives serving, whatever branch it is, they are all involved with those people, not just for a short time, but for a lifetime. I think it greatly impacts them to see something like this.

"I think this is just like one big team that we came to visit here today; everybody has a role, everybody brings value to what they do, there's pressure in every job that they have, much like there's pressure involved in a game for players that are playing on the field, but I think the difference is this is life decisions. We play a game," Dantonio said. "This is life decisions that they impact, just with the protection of our country and everything that goes along with it, is much more meaningful and very, very special."

Following the visit to Naval Base San Diego, the Spartans held their final practice of the season with a two-hour evening workout at Mesa College in helmets, shells and shorts. With temperatures in the high 50s, MSU underwent its final tuneup before facing No. 18 Washington State on Thursday.

After the final practice, the Spartans continued their longstanding tradition under Dantonio as the 2017 seniors walked down a receiving line to share final goodbyes with other teammates, coaches and support staff.

The Spartans will participate in the National Funding Kickoff Luncheon on Wednesday, then will have a brief walk through and team photo at SDCCU Stadium in the afternoon.

No. 16 Michigan State (9-3) will face the No. 18 Cougars (9-3) at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 28 in the 40th annual San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl. The game will be televised on FS1.

*Information regarding the USS Essex was provided from the official United States Navy website.

Logo  Day 4: Monday, Dec. 25

The Michigan State football team spent Christmas Day at the San Diego Zoo as part of activities leading up to the 40th annual San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 against Washington State.

In the morning, the Spartans had a holiday brunch followed by team meetings, then spent the afternoon at the San Diego Zoo.

At the zoo, selected players got to spend time learning about some animals and interacting with them. Senior center Brian Allen, senior linebacker Chris Frey, junior linebacker Byron Bullough and junior wide receiver Felton Davis III talked with zookeepers and spent time with a tenrec, an armadillo and a binturong (bearcat).

"It was pretty cool. I wish we would've got to hold them or something, but understand why we can't," Allen said. "The little ones kind of scared me a little bit more than the others. That binturong was pretty cool."

The binturong left a lasting impression on the players.

"That binturong was really nice, I liked that a lot," Davis said.

Although he liked the binturong, Davis did get nervous near the end of the animal's visit.

"I got a little nervous when I saw him running out of food, and I knew that little binturong was going to be hungry, and I didn't want any of us to be a little snack for him," Davis said, laughing.

Allen is on his last bowl trip as a Spartan and he's trying to make the most of the trip.

"Any time you go to a bowl game, being in a different spot and a different city, especially since I've never been here before, is really cool," Allen said. "We've had a couple tough practices in the morning, but after that we've had some time to kind of hang out and explore San Diego. We're staying right downtown kind of in the heart of everything, so it's a pretty good location to be able to walk around and see some pretty cool stuff."

The team enjoyed their visit to the zoo on another mildly warm day in San Diego, with temperatures near 70 degrees, which provided for quite a different Christmas Day than they're accustomed to.

"This is a first for me, not being home for Christmas, so it's a little different, and it's really different not having any snow around and with it being this warm. The weather is pretty good," Allen said.

After their zoo visit, the Spartans took advantage of the mild weather by having their first night practice under the lights at their practice location at Mesa College, preparing for Thursday night's battle with the Cougars of WSU.

"We're putting the finishing touches around everything," Davis said. "We're making sure that we're perfecting everything that we're going to do and the plays that we're going to run. All the hard work has been put in and now it's about making it perfect."

Logo  Day 3: Sunday, Dec. 24

The Michigan State football team was back on the practice field Sunday afternoon for its second workout of the weekend at Mesa College as the No. 16 Spartans continued to prepare for the 40th annual San Diego County Credit Holiday Bowl against No. 18 Washington State.

For the second straight day the Spartans practiced in near-perfect conditions, with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 60s for the two-hour plus workout.

"I thought we worked hard and got a lot done today," said MSU head coach Mark Dantonio. "As much as anything, it's the way you go about your work. Our attitude has been good and we're getting ourselves ready to play.

"I sort of felt we needed to go hard for a couple of days, and then we need to taper off and give them enough time to refresh themselves. You need to be able to play fast in this (Holiday Bowl) game; really in any football game, you have to be able to play fast.

"We'll practice later in the day (tomorrow on Christmas Day). They will have the morning off and will be able to spend some time with their families if they're here. I want to wish a very Merry Christmas to all of the Spartans out there."

Following practice, a few Spartans met with reporters at the team hotel to talk about the trip in San Diego thus far and also about the challenge of facing the Cougars, who are the nation's No. 2-ranked passing offense and also rank No. 15 in total defense.

"There was a lot of energy," said junior safety Khari Willis. "I feel that everybody was getting their feet under us, we're hitting pretty well, moving around well and getting our schemes down and communicating with each other. We're just really flying around and having fun."

"I've never imagined that I'd be here in San Diego on Christmas," junior tight end Matt Sokol said. "It's a blessing, really. I've never been to California before, so it's a really cool deal to be out here playing football. It feels a little weird because this is my first warm Christmas ever, and near a beach and the ocean and everything. It really something and I'm just very thankful for the opportunity."

In the evening, the Spartans attended a team dinner at the Manchester Grand Hyatt hosted by the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl.

On Christmas Day, Michigan State coaches, staff and players will spend a few hours in the afternoon at the San Diego Zoo before holding an evening practice at Mesa College. Michigan State (9-3) will meet No. 18 Washington State (9-3) in the 40th annual San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 28 at 9 p.m. EST at SDCCU Stadium. The game will be televised on FS1.

Logo  Day 2: Saturday, Dec. 23

Under sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, the Michigan State football team held its first practice in San Diego on Saturday at Mesa College

Under sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, the Michigan State football team held its first practice in San Diego on Saturday at Mesa College as the No. 16 Spartans resumed their preparations for the 40th annual San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl against Washington State.

MSU head coach Mark Dantonio was pleased with his team's effort, as the Spartans worked out in full pads for two-and-a-half hours, followed by a team lift.

"I think the biggest thing coming off a couple days break is you've got to get back to game condition as much as you can. We haven't played a game in almost a month, so you try to put as many live perspectives in to practice as you can without getting people hurt. That means you've got to bring your feet with you and run, you've got to run and react, so that's what we tried to get done today. We went for about two and a half hours, so it's a good day today," said Dantonio, as the Spartans practiced for the first time since last Monday in East Lansing.

"We're excited to be in San Diego, we're going to get a little lift in after practice and then go to the beach for a little bit to see the Pacific Ocean. It's a beautiful day out here, the sun is shining and our guys are excited to be here."

The Spartans (9-3) held a total of six on-campus bowl practices before arriving in San Diego on Friday night.

Following practice, the team visited Mission Beach in San Diego.

The Spartans return to practice Sunday afternoon.

The 40th annual San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl is set for Thursday, Dec. 28 at 9 p.m. EST at SDCCU Stadium. The game will be televised on FS1.

Note of the day...
The Spartans are 5-1 in bowl games in the state of California. MSU owns the highest winning percentage of any team with at least five appearances in the Rose Bowl (.800 at 4-1) and also won the 2001 Silicon Valley Bowl over Fresno State in San Jose, California. The Holiday Bowl marks MSU's first-ever game in San Diego.

Logo  Day 1 - Friday, Dec. 22

Michigan State was greeted at the team hotel by the Holiday Bowl committee, as well as a mariachi band, and many cheering Spartan fans clad in green and white.
Michigan State was greeted at the team hotel by the Holiday Bowl committee, as well as a mariachi band, and many cheering Spartan fans clad in green and white.

The Michigan State football team arrived in San Diego Friday evening and checked into its team headquarters, the Manchester Grand Hyatt, to prepare its bowl week in San Diego for the 40th Annual San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl.

The Spartans' travel party flew from Detroit to San Diego, and had the "honor" of being the last passengers on Delta's Boeing Ship 6309, before the aircraft is moved into retirement on Saturday. Upon landing in San Diego, several of the team and other members of the travel party signed their names on the aircraft.

Michigan State was greeted at the team hotel by the Holiday Bowl committee, as well as a mariachi band, and many cheering Spartan fans clad in green and white.

The No. 16 Spartans will resume preparations for the Holiday Bowl match-up with No. 18 Washington State with MSU's first practice in San Diego on Saturday.

No. 16 Michigan State is making its first appearance in the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl as the Spartans will take on No. 18 Washington State at SDCCU Stadium on Thursday, Dec. 28 at 9 p.m. EST. The game will be televised nationally on FS1, with Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt and Jenny Taft on the call.

MSU closed the regular season on a two-game winning streak with victories over Maryland and Rutgers to enter the Holiday Bowl with a 9-3 overall record, including a 7-2 mark in conference play to tie for second place in the Big Ten East Division. The Cougars are also 9-3 overall and went 6-3 in league action, finishing third in the Pac-12 North Division.

Daily updates on MSU's week in San Diego for the Holiday Bowl will be available on msuspartans.com. Fans can also follow on Facebook (MSUAthletics), Twitter (@msu_football), Instagram (msu_spartans) and YouTube (MSUSpartanAthletics).

Note of the day...
Michigan State is making its first-ever appearance in the Holiday Bowl, but is making its 27th all-time appearance in a bowl game and its 10th under head coach Mark Dantonio, the most bowl games of any coach in program history.

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