MSU has produced touchdowns on 21 of 42 trips (50 percent) into the red zone this season.
In a way, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is the season-opener and season-finale for a one-game season.
Offensive coordinator Dan Roushar and the Spartans preview the matchup against TCU.
The Spartans need a victory at Minnesota in the regular-season finale to become bowl eligible for an unprecedented sixth-straight year.
A 29-year coaching veteran, it marks the fifth time that Roushar has been an offensive coordinator in his career. Roushar has also served as offensive coordinator at Illinois (2004), Northern Illinois (1998-2002), Ball State (1994) and Butler (1989-92).
In 2012, junior running back Le'Veon Bell had a career year, winning the Big Ten rushing title and ranking third in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, averaging 137.9 yards per game. Named a first-team All-American by CollegeFootballNews.com, Bell compiled 1,793 rushing yards, the second-highest single-season total in MSU history. The first-team All-Big Ten selection finished his career ranked among MSU's all-time leaders in rushing TDs (sixth with 33), rushing attempts (sixth with 671), rushing yards (seventh with 3,346) and all-purpose yards (ninth with 4,114).
Two other Spartans earned All-Big Ten honors on the offensive side of the ball, as tight end Dion Sims picked up second-team accolades from the coaches and media while right guard Chris McDonald garnered honorable mention. Sims compiled career highs in catches (36) and receiving yards (475); the 36 receptions were the third most in a single-season by a Spartan tight end. McDonald closed his career by starting 30 consecutive games at right guard and was the only Spartan to start every game on the offensive line in 2012.
In his first year as the starting quarterback, Andrew Maxwell ranked among MSU's Top 10 single-season leaders in pass attempts (second with 446), pass completions (fourth with 234), passing yards (seventh with 2,606) and total offense (eighth with 2,500 yards).
Michigan State's passing offense ranked fourth in the Big Ten (209.9 ypg.) and the Spartans were the only team in the conference with six players collecting at least 29 receptions.
Under Roushar's direction in 2011, Michigan State's offense was one of the highest scoring in school history. The Spartans averaged 31.0 points per game, which ranked third in the Big Ten and was the ninth-highest average in an MSU season. The Spartans set school records for most points (434) and passing yards (3,535 yards) in a season, and also ranked among the Top 10 in school history in total offense (second with 5,466 yards), touchdown passes (third with 26) and passing yards per game (fifth with 252.5 ypg.).
The passing game, led by the winningest quarterback in school history in Kirk Cousins, ranked second in the Big Ten. In his final season wearing the Green and White, Cousins had his best year, setting an MSU single-season record with 25 passing TDs while throwing for a career-high 3,316 yards. Cousins also finished his career as the school-record holder for touchdown passes (66), passing yards (9,131), completions (696), passing efficiency (146.1 rating), 200-yard passing games (26) and total offense (9,004 yards).
Senior wide receiver B.J. Cunningham, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media, became the program's all-time leader in receptions (218) and receiving yards (3,316) during his final season. Cunningham set a school record with eight 100-yard receiving games in 2011 and tied an MSU single-season record with 79 receptions.
A total of seven Spartans on offense received All-Big Ten recognition, including senior left guard Joel Foreman (first team), who became the first MSU offensive lineman to garner first-team all-conference honors since 2004. Cousins (coaches), Cunningham (coaches and media) and senior tight end Brian Linthicum (coaches) garnered second-team accolades, while senior wide receiver Keshawn Martin, McDonald and Bell earned honorable mention.
Linthicum led all Spartan tight ends with 31 catches for 364 yards, Sims tied for third on the team with three touchdown receptions, and fifth-year senior Garrett Celek proved all season long to be one of the team's leading blockers.
Four Spartans on the offensive side of the ball were selected in the 2012 National Football League Draft, including Cousins (fourth round, Washington Redskins), Martin (fourth round, Houston Texans), Cunningham (sixth round, Miami Dolphins) and running back Edwin Baker (seventh round, San Diego Chargers). In addition, Celek signed a free agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers.
In his four seasons coaching the offensive line at Michigan State (2007-10), Roushar's linemen earned All-Big Ten recognition on eight occasions.
Michigan State's improved rushing attack in 2010 was fueled by a solid offensive line that featured the same core of starters throughout the entire season. Although the unit began the year with three new starters and a position switch from right tackle to left tackle for D.J. Young, the Spartans established their running identity early in the season, rushing for more than 200 yards in five of the first six games.
Young's move proved to be a success, as he garnered second-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches, while junior left guard Joel Foreman was a third-team All-America selection by Phil Steele. Sophomore Edwin Baker was the main beneficiary for the Spartans' offensive line play, as the first-team All-Big Ten pick by the media ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 30th in the FBS averaging 92.4 ypg.
Two Spartan offensive linemen earned All-Big Ten recognition in 2009 under Roushar's direction, as center Joel Nitchman was named second-team All-Big Ten by the media and left guard Joel Foreman garnered honorable mention accolades by the coaches and media. For the second straight season, Roushar's unit was one of the most effective in the Big Ten protecting the quarterback, as the Spartans gave up only 14 sacks, the fewest amount of any team in the conference.
The Spartans featured the nation's fourth-leading rusher in Javon Ringer in 2008, thanks in large part to the strength of the offensive line play. In addition, the unit allowed just 24 sacks all season, ranking fourth in the Big Ten. Four of MSU's five starters were awarded postseason honors, including second-team All-Big Ten selections Roland Martin (right guard) and Jesse Miller (right tackle). Center Joel Nitchman earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors while left guard Joel Foreman was named Freshman All-American.
Michigan State was one of the top rushing teams in the nation during the 2007 regular season, thanks in large part to the offensive line. Roushar had to juggle his lineup several times, using eight different starting combinations, but he led his unit to be one of the most productive in the Big Ten as the Spartans ranked fourth in the conference and No. 25 in the NCAA in rushing with 198.2 yards a game. He tutored left tackle Pete Clifford, who went on to earn second-team All-Big Ten honors.
Roushar arrived in East Lansing after serving as offensive line coach under Coach Dantonio at Cincinnati for two seasons (2005-06).
In 2006, he instructed offensive guard Trevor Canfield, who earned second-team All-BIG EAST honors as a sophomore.
Prior to joining the Cincinnati coaching staff, he worked with the running backs at Illinois for two seasons (2003-04), adding the duties of offensive coordinator in 2004.
Roushar spent six years as offensive line coach at Northern Illinois (1997-2002), where he also served as the offensive coordinator for the final five seasons. During his tenure at NIU, the Huskies earned a share of back-to-back Mid-American Conference West Division titles in 2001 and 2002. In his six years in DeKalb, NIU also produced four 1,000-yard rushers, including Michael Turner who finished second in the NCAA in rushing in 2002 while averaging 159.6 yards per game. In 2000, the Huskies ranked among the national leaders in rushing offense (No. 12 at 228.1 ypg.), total offense (No. 19 at 427.8 ypg.) and scoring offense (No. 12 at 37.2 points per game). The 427.8 total yards per game marked the second-best single-season average in NIU history and the school's best figure since 1963.
Roushar helped develop three first-team All-MAC selections, in offensive tackle Ryan Diem (1999-2000), center McAllister Collins (2000) and offensive tackle Tim Vincent (2002). Diem, a fourth-round pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2001 NFL Draft, started 15 games at right tackle in 2006 for the Super Bowl Champions. While on the NIU coaching staff, Roushar also recruited offensive tackle Doug Free, who was taken by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft.
A two-year letterman as a quarterback at Northern Illinois under Hall of Fame coach Bill Mallory, Roushar launched his coaching career at his alma mater as a student assistant in 1984 while completing his bachelor's degree. Roushar spent seven seasons at Butler, the first three (1986-88) as offensive backfield coach and the final four (1989-92) as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. The Bulldogs won five conference titles and made two Division II playoff appearances during his tenure.
The 51-year-old Roushar also has made coaching stops at Rhode Island (1993) and Ball State (1994), where he also served as offensive coordinator. During his first two-year stint at Illinois, he worked with the Illini quarterbacks in 1995 before taking over the offensive tackles and tight ends in 1996.
Roushar earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Northern Illinois in 1984.
He and his wife Patti have four children: Marissa, Mallory, Maura and Danny.
THE ROUSHAR FILE
YEARS AT MICHIGAN STATE: Seventh. Joined staff on Nov. 30, 2006, from Cincinnati.
PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE: College - Offensive backfield coach (1986-88) and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach (1989-92) at Butler; offensive line coach at Rhode Island (1993); offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Ball State (1994); quarterbacks coach (1995) and offensive tackle/tight ends coach (1996) at Illinois; offensive line coach (1997) and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach (1998-2002) at Northern Illinois; running backs coach (2003) and offensive coordinator/running backs coach (2004) at Illinois; offensive line coach at Cincinnati (2005-06).
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in physical education from Northern Illinois in 1984.
PLAYING EXPERIENCE: College - Two-year letterwinner as a quarterback at Northern Illinois (1981-82).
POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: Coach - 1988 NCAA Division II Playoffs, 1991 NCAA Division II Playoffs, 2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl, 2012 Outback Bowl, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.