Jan. 1, 2011
|No. 7/7 Michigan State (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) vs. No. 15/18 Alabama (9-3, 5-3 SEC)|
|Date||Saturday, Jan. 1|
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Location||Orlando, Fla. | Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium (65,438/AstroTurf)|
|Radio||Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live)|
|Game Notes||Michigan State | Alabama|
|Statistics||Michigan State | Alabama|
|Internet Coverage||Watch Live (ESPN3.com)|
|Social Media||@MSU_Football | Facebook|
Michigan State takes on Alabama Saturday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. in the 2011 Capital One Bowl. It marks the first-ever meeting between the schools.
TELEVISION: ESPN will televise the 2011 Capital One Bowl live to a national audience, with Brad Nessler handling the play-by-play, Todd Blackledge providing color commentary and Holly Rowe serving as the sideline reporter. The Capital One Bowl also will be available live online via ESPN360.com.
RADIO: The Spartan Sports Network, featuring veteran play-by-play announcer George Blaha, color analyst Jim Miller, sideline reporter Jason Strayhorn and broadcast host Will Tieman, will broadcast the game to 32 affiliates throughout the state. Michigan State football broadcasts can be heard on flagship stations WJIM (AM 1240)/WMMQ (FM 94.9) in Lansing and WJR Radio (AM 760) in Detroit. The 2011 Capital One Bowl game also can be heard live nationally on Sports USA Radio Network, with Rich Cellini, Ross Tucker and Rich Herrera calling the action.
FIRST-AND-10 (what you need to know about the MSU-Alabama matchup) -
Michigan State is making its fourth-straight postseason bowl appearance for the first time since 1987-90, matching the longest bowl streak in school history. Mark Dantonio becomes the first coach in Michigan State history to earn a postseason bowl bid in each of his first four seasons.
Michigan State is making its 21st postseason bowl appearance overall, including its third trip to the Capital One Bowl (formerly known as Florida Citrus and Tangerine Bowls). The Spartans are 7-13 (.350) in bowl games, including a 1-1 record in previous Capital One Bowl appearances (defeated No. 10 Florida, 37-34, in 2000; lost to No. 16 Georgia, 24-12, in 2009). It marks MSU's sixth appearance in a Florida-based bowl (1938 Orange, 1989 Gator, 2000 Florida Citrus, 2007 Champs Sports and 2009 Capital One). MSU has lost its last four postseason games, with the Spartans' last bowl victory coming against Fresno State, 44-35, in the 2001 Silicon Valley Football Classic.
Seven of Michigan State's last eight bowl opponents have been ranked in The Associated Press Top 25, including No. 15 Alabama in the 2011 Capital One Bowl, No. 16 Georgia in the 2009 Capital One Bowl, No. 14 Boston College in the 2007 Champs Sports Bowl, No. 22 Nebraska in the 2003 Alamo Bowl, No. 20 Fresno State in the 2001 Silicon Valley Football Classic, No. 10 Florida in the 2000 Florida Citrus Bowl and No. 21 Washington in the 1997 Aloha Bowl.
Mark Dantonio, who led Michigan State to a school-record 11 wins and a share of its first Big Ten Championship since 1990, has been named 2010 National Coach of the Year by CBSSports.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com. In addition, Dantonio has been selected as one of nine finalists for the Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year Award and one of 10 finalists for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. He recently earned Dave McClain (Big Ten) Coach of the Year, as selected by the conference's media panel, as well as American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Regional Coach of the Year honors. The 54-year-old Dantonio helped manage the third-biggest turnaround among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams during the regular season, as the Spartans improved from 6-7 a year ago to 11-1 in 2010.
Seventeen seniors will make their final appearance in a Spartan uniform on Jan. 1, 2011, against Alabama in the Capital One Bowl. This senior class has helped Michigan State to a combined record of 33-18 (.647), including four straight postseason bowl appearances (2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl and 2011 Capital One Bowl). The 33 wins are the most ever recorded by a senior class in MSU's 114-year football history (previous record: 31 by Class of 1990).
The 2011 Capital One Bowl marks the first-ever meeting between Michigan State and Alabama.
In April 2009, MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis announced that the Spartans had signed a contract for a home-and-home football series with Alabama (Sept. 3, 2016, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Sept. 2, 2017, in Spartan Stadium). The Spartans haven't played a regular-season game against an SEC opponent since playing both Mississippi State and Kentucky in 1947.
Alabama's Nick Saban compiled a 34-24-1 record (.585) in five seasons as head coach at Michigan State (1995-99), including four postseason bowl invitations (1995 Independence, 1996 Sun, 1997 Aloha and 2000 Citrus).
Five current members of Alabama's coaching staff also spent time at Michigan State: offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jim McElwain (2003-05), assistant head coach/offensive line coach Joe Pendry (1980-81), assistant head coach/linebackers coach Sal Sunseri (2001), tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Bobby Williams (assistant coach, 1995-99; head coach, 2000-02) and associate athletic director for football Mike Vollmar (1996-2007).
Mark Dantonio previously spent six seasons as secondary coach at Michigan State (1995-2000), including five years under Nick Saban and one under Bobby Williams.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW -
Michigan State has compiled a 5-7-1 record (.423) against current members of the Southeastern Conference (0-1 vs. Auburn, 1-0 vs. Florida, 0-2 vs. Georgia, 2-2 vs. Kentucky, 0-1 vs. LSU, and 2-1-1 vs. Mississippi State).
Michigan State has compiled a 36-14 record (.720) in games played against non-conference opponents since 1999. Mark Dantonio is 13-6 (.684) against non-conference opponents, including an 11-1 record in Spartan Stadium. Overall, the Spartans have won 19 of their last 26 non-league games.
Michigan State is 5-0 in games decided by 10 points or less in 2010.
Michigan State ranked No. 7 in the final regular-season Associated Press and USA TODAY Polls. The Spartans have earned a Top 25 ranking for 11 consecutive weeks.
Mark Dantonio is the first coach in Michigan State history to win at least nine games twice in his first four seasons. Dantonio now has 33 victories in his first four seasons at MSU, which are the most by any Spartan head coach in his first four years (Chester Brewer ranks second, with 30 wins from 1903-06).
A trademark of Mark Dantonio's Michigan State teams has been their ability to produce wins late in the regular season. Under Dantonio, the Spartans are 9-3 (.750) in games played in November. MSU closed out the 2010 regular season with consecutive wins over Minnesota, Purdue and Penn State, as the Spartans posted a perfect 3-0 record in November for the first time since 1999. In the four seasons (2003-06) prior to his arrival, Michigan State went just 2-11 (.154) in November.
Michigan State's 2010 regular-season opponents comprised the nation's 44th-most difficult schedule, according to NCAA figures. The Spartans' regular-season opponents had a combined record of 60-52 (.536) against other Bowl Subdivision teams. By comparison, Big Ten co-champions Ohio State (62-60, .508) and Wisconsin (54-58, .482) ranked No. 55 (tied) and No. 70, respectively, in strength of schedule. The Spartans went 6-1 (.857) in games played against bowl-bound teams.
Senior linebackers Greg Jones and Eric Gordon have combined for 784 career tackles - the most by any active linebacker duo in the NCAA FBS (Connecticut's Lawrence Wilson and Scott Lutrus rank second with 771 combined stops). Jones has 457 career tackles, third most in school history, while Gordon ranks No. 13 (tied) on MSU's all-time list with 327 career stops. With 93 combined starts, Gordon (48) and Jones (45) have started more games at linebacker than any other duo in Spartan history.
Fifth-year senior linebacker Eric Gordon set a school record with his 48th career start in the 2010 regular-season finale at Penn State, breaking the mark previously held by former Spartan tight end Chris Baker (47 career starts, 1998-2001). In addition, he has started more games at linebacker than any other player in MSU history (previous record holder: Dan Bass, 44 career starts from 1976-79). Gordon ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in tackles for loss (tied for 10th with 29) and tackles (tied for 13th with 327).
Junior Kirk Cousins completed 17-of-22 throws (77 percent) for 152 yards and two touchdowns to lead MSU to a 28-22 victory at Penn State, as the Spartans claimed a share of their first Big Ten Championship since 1990. It also marked MSU's first win in State College since 1965 (the year before Joe Paterno took over as Penn State's head coach), ending an eight-game losing streak in Beaver Stadium. Cousins completed scoring strikes of 8 and 24 yards to B.J. Cunningham. His .675 completion percentage (first), 153.5 passing efficiency rating (third), 216 pass completions
(fourth), 2,705 passing yards (fourth), 20 TD passes (tied for fourth), 2,625 total yards (fourth), seven 200-yard passing games (seventh) and 320 pass attempts (eighth) rank among the Top 10 single-season totals in MSU history.