Football Media Center: Outback Bowl
Jan. 1, 2012
FIRST-AND-10 (what you need to know about the MSU-Georgia matchup) -
The Spartans are bowl eligible for a school-record fifth consecutive year (2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl, 2012 Outback Bowl). Mark Dantonio also becomes the first coach in Michigan State history to earn a postseason bowl bid in each of his first five seasons.
Michigan State is making its 22nd postseason bowl appearance overall, including its first-ever trip to the Outback Bowl. The Spartans are 7-14 (.333) in bowl games, including a 0-2 record against Georgia (lost 34-27 in 1989 Gator Bowl; and 24-12 in 2009 Capital One Bowl). It marks MSU's seventh appearance in a Florida-based bowl (1938 Orange, 1989 Gator, 2000 Florida Citrus, 2007 Champs Sports, 2009 Capital One and 2011 Capital One). The Spartans have lost their last five postseason games, with MSU's last bowl victory coming against Fresno State, 44-35, in the 2001 Silicon Valley Football Classic.
Eight of Michigan State's last nine bowl opponents have been ranked in The Associated Press Top 25, including No. 18 Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl, 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.
Michigan State has compiled a 5-8-1 record (.393) against current members of the Southeastern Conference (0-1 vs. Alabama, 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).
Seventeen seniors will make their final appearance in a Spartan uniform on Jan. 2, 2012, against Georgia in the Outback Bowl. The 2011 senior class has helped Michigan State to a record of 36-16 (.692) since 2008, including four-straight bowl bids (2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl and 2012 Outback Bowl). The 36 wins are the most by any senior class in the 115-year history of Michigan State football (previous record: 33 wins by 2010 class). The 2011 class is also the first to defeat Michigan four-straight years since 1959-62 and finished with a home record of 24-4 (.857).
Michigan State has compiled a 39-16 record (.709) in games played against non-conference opponents since 1999. Mark Dantonio is 16-8 (.667) against non-conference opponents, including a 14-1 record (.933) in Spartan Stadium. Overall, the Spartans have won 22 of their last 31 non-league games (.710).
Michigan State has won 21 of its last 26 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season, including a 14-2 record in Big Ten play. The 21 wins over the last two seasons is the highest two-year total in school history and ties for ninth most among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams during that same period. In addition, the Spartans have won at least 10 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history.
Over the last four years, Michigan State has won more Big Ten games (24) than any other conference team. (Note: Ohio State also won 24 games, but had to vacate seven victories following the 2010 season.)
Michigan State leads the Big Ten in rushing defense (104.3 yards per game), total defense (272.7 ypg.), sacks (41), interceptions (16) and third-down defense (.337). The Spartans rank among the conference leaders in pass efficiency defense (second with a 110.4 rating), turnover margin (second at +0.54 per game), takeaways (third with 22), red-zone defense (third at .771), passing defense (fourth at 168.4 ypg.) and scoring defense (fourth at 17.5 points per game) . MSU also ranks among the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Top 25 in seven statistical categories: fourth in sacks, fifth in total defense, ninth in scoring defense, 10th in pass efficiency defense, 11th in passing defense, 12th in rushing defense and 22nd in turnover margin.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS -
The Spartans ranked No. 17 in the final Bowl Championship Series Standings, released Dec. 4. Michigan State has been listed in the BCS Standings (Top 25) for 16 consecutive weeks, the longest streak in school history (BCS Standings first released during 1998 season).
Nineteen Spartans received All-Big Ten recognition on first team, second team or honorable mention, including all 11 starters on defense. First-team All-Big Ten selections included: DB Johnny Adams (coaches), OG Joel Foreman (coaches and media), DB Trenton Robinson (media) and DL Jerel Worthy (coaches and media).
Michigan State has been a strong first-half team, outscoring its opponents, 254-109 (+145). In the second quarter alone, MSU has outscored its opponents by 139 points, 168-29.
Fifth-year senior Kirk Cousins, the winningest quarterback in school history, has compiled a 26-12 record (.684) in 38 career starts, including a 21-5 mark since the beginning of the 2010 season. His career winning percentage (seventh) and career victories (ninth) rank among all active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks. He became the winningest quarterback in Spartan history with Michigan State's dramatic 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin on Oct. 29.
Cousins has connected on 70-of-116 third-down throws (.603) for 975 yards, with 46 of those completions resulting in first downs and 11 for touchdowns. Those marks on third down rank among the FBS leaders (third in yards, tied for fifth in touchdowns, 19th in passing efficiency). His 12 completions of 25-plus yards on third down are the most in the nation. Cousins is even more effective on fourth down, completing 7-of-10 passes for three touchdowns (tied for third in FBS).
Fifth-year senior B.J. Cunningham is Michigan State's all-time leader in receptions (211) and receiving yards (3,020). His 211 receptions are seventh most in Big Ten history. He also is listed among the school's career leaders in TD receptions (second with 25) and 100-yard receiving games (third with 10). In addition, Cunningham ranks among all active NCAA FBS leaders in receiving yards (ninth), TD catches (11th) and receptions (13th).
Over his last eight games, senior Keshawn Martin has posted a team-best 43 catches for 565 yards and 4 TDs while accounting for 899 all-purpose yards (112.4 ypg.).
Cunningham (72 catches) and Martin (62 catches) have combined for 134 receptions in 2011, the most ever by a receiving duo in a Michigan State season (previous record: 124 by Charles Rogers  and Herb Haygood  in 2001). Cunningham (1,240 yards) and Martin (742 yards) are also just 4 yards away from producing the most receiving yards of any receiving duo in an MSU season. Cunningham and Martin have teamed up for 1,982 receiving yards in 2011; Plaxico Burress (1,142) and Gari Scott (843) had 1,985 receiving yards in 1998. Both of those marks (134 receptions; 1,982 receiving yards) rank first among receiving duos in the Big Ten this season.
Left guard Joel Foreman made his 48th career start vs. Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Foreman will tie Eric Gordon (linebacker, 2007-10) for the most starts in school history (49) in the Outback Bowl. Foreman has also started more games than any offensive lineman in Spartan history (previous record: 44 starts by Shane Hannah, 1991-94, and Tony Mandarich, 1985-88).
Michigan State tailbacks Le'Veon Bell and Edwin Baker have combined to rush for 1,555 yards (119.6 yards per game) and 16 touchdowns. Bell ranks ninth in the Big Ten in rushing (69.2 ypg.) and fifth in rushing TDs (11).
The Spartans recorded 59 tackles for loss during Big Ten play, including a league-best 33 sacks. Michigan State's nine sacks at Ohio State tied a school record and also ranks tied for second in a single game this season in the NCAA FBS.
Michigan State has recorded more than 400 yards of total offense in four of its last five games (402 vs. Minnesota; 443 vs. Iowa; 470 vs. Indiana; and 471 vs. Wisconsin in Big Ten Championship Game). Over the last five games, the Spartans are averaging 38.6 points and 433.2 total yards per game. In addition, Kirk Cousins has completed 93-of-138 throws (.674) for 1,323 yards (264.6 ypg.), 13 TDs and two interceptions during the five-game stretch.
Michigan State has held six of its opponents below 100 yards rushing (22 yards by FAU, 21 by CMU, 35 by Ohio State, 82 by Michigan, 87 by Iowa and 94 by Indiana). In addition, the Spartans have allowed only 11 rushing touchdowns (tied for the 15th-fewest allowed in the NCAA FBS).
The Spartan defense has allowed only five gains of 40-plus yards from scrimmage in 2011 - tied for the eighth-fewest surrendered by an NCAA FBS team. The Spartans have also allowed only 38 gains of 20-plus yards (tied for 14th in the FBS) and 15 of 30-plus yards (tied for 18th in the FBS).
The Spartans have returned three interceptions (Isaiah Lewis vs. Central Michigan and Michigan; Johnny Adams vs. Indiana) and one fumble (Jeremy Langford vs. FAU) for scores this season. Lewis is one of 11 players in the NCAA FBS to return two interceptions for TDs this season.
Junior cornerback Johnny Adams is tied for fifth in the Big Ten with three interceptions and leads the Big Ten and ranks fifth in the FBS with 141 interception return yards; that total also ranks third most in an MSU single-season. Adams, who leads all active Spartans with 25 passes defended in his career (eight interceptions, 17 pass break-ups), ranks fourth in MSU history with 219 interception return yards. His 86-yard interception return for a touchdown against Indiana was the fourth-longest in school history.
Sophomore defensive end William Gholston led the Spartans in tackles in back-to-back games against Nebraska (15) and Minnesota (14). The 29 tackles were the most by a Spartan in a two-game span since 2009 (Greg Jones: 15 tackles vs. Montana State; 14 tackles vs. Central Michigan). It also marked the first time a Spartan defensive lineman has recorded double figures in tackles in back-to-back games since Josh Shaw in 2000 (10 tackles vs. Missouri, 10 vs. Notre Dame).
Gholston's career-high 15 tackles at Nebraska matched a single-game high for a Spartan this season (Max Bullough 15 tackles vs. Youngstown State). Gholston became the first Spartan defensive lineman to reach double figures in tackles since Jonal Saint-Dic posted 10 stops against Northwestern in 2007, and it marked the highest single-game total by a Spartan defensive lineman since Josh Shaw produced 17 tackles against Wisconsin in 2000.
MSU has won 14 straight games in Spartan Stadium - its longest home streak since winning 19 straight from 1950-53 (teams coached by Clarence "Biggie" Munn). The 14-game home winning streak is the fifth longest in school history (school-record 23-game home winning streak from 1903-07; teams coached by Chester Brewer); it's also the fourth-longest active home winning streak in the NCAA FBS (LSU - 17; Wisconsin - 16; Northern Illinois - 15: MSU - 14).
UPON FURTHER REVIEW -
Michigan State fell just short of its earning its first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1988, losing to No. 15 Wisconsin, 42-39, in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis, Ind. With a 31-17 victory at Northwestern, the Spartans (7-1) won the Big Ten Legends Division title outright, finishing one game ahead of Michigan (6-2) in the final standings. MSU secured a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game thanks to its 55-3 win over Indiana on Senior Day coupled with Nebraska's 45-17 loss at Michigan.
Over the last two seasons, Michigan State is 8-1 in games decided by 10 points or less, including 3-1 in 2011. The only loss came in a 42-39 defeat against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.
With wins over Michigan and Wisconsin, Michigan State became the first team to defeat opponents with 6-0 or better overall records in consecutive Big Ten Conference games.
Michigan State became the second team in Big Ten history to go 3-0 against Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin in a three-game span, joining Penn State, which accomplished the feat in 2008.
With consecutive wins over No. 10 Michigan and No. 4 Wisconsin, Michigan State became just the third Big Ten team since 2002 to record back-to-back victories over Top 10 opponents, according to the USA TODAY Coaches Poll, joining Ohio State (2002) and Michigan (2003).
Michigan State did not commit a penalty against Wisconsin. It marked the first time MSU wasn't flagged for a penalty in a game since Oct. 4, 1975, at Notre Dame.
Michigan State has had four different starting combinations in 13 games on the offensive line this season, including three different starting centers (Blake Treadwell, Travis Jackson, Ethan Ruhland).
DANTONIO NOTES -
Dantonio owns the most wins (43) by a Spartan head coach in his first five seasons ("Biggie" Munn ranks second, with 36 wins from 1947-1951). Dantonio is currently 43-22 (.662) at MSU.
Dantonio is the first head coach in MSU history to win at least nine games three times in his first five seasons (9 wins in 2008; school-record 11 wins in 2010; 10 wins in 2011).
Dantonio has won at least nine games in a season three times (9 in 2008, 11 in 2010, 10 this season), tying him with the most seasons of at least nine wins of any coach in MSU history ("Biggie" Munn, 1951, 1952, 1953; Duffy Daugherty, 1955, 1965, 1966).
With the win over Minnesota, Dantonio became just the sixth Spartan coach to win at least 40 games (Chester Brewer, Charlie Bachman, "Biggie" Munn, Duffy Daugherty and George Perles). In addition, Dantonio reached the 40-win mark in 61 games, which is the fourth fastest in MSU history (Brewer: 40 wins in his first 52 games from 1903-08; Bachman: 40 wins in his first 58 games from 1933 to 1939; Munn: 40 wins in his first 50 games from 1947-52).
Dantonio, in his eighth year as a head coach, recorded his 60th career victory with the win over Indiana. His overall record is 61-39 (.610).
MSU/GEORGIA COACHING CONNECTIONS -
MSU wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel and Georgia inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti both lettered as wide receivers at Purdue. Samuel was a four-year letterwinner for the Boilermakers from 1991-94, while Olivadotti lettered from 1993-96.
SPARTAN BOWL RECAPS vs. GEORGIA -
Jan. 1, 1989 | Gator Bowl:
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 17-0 lead on Johnson's 6-yard TD toss to Hampton, Steve Crumley's 39-yard field goal and Johnson's 30-yard TD strike to Hampton.
The Spartans got on the scoreboard late in the first half as Bobby McAllister finished off a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a 4-yard TD pass to Andre Rison.
Midway through the third quarter, Georgia put together a six-play, 64-yard drive to extend its lead to 24-7 on Kirk Warner's 18-yard TD catch from Johnson. MSU responded with an eight-play, 78-yard scoring drive as McAllister hit Rison with a 55-yard bomb.
A 36-yard field goal by Crumley gave the Bulldogs a 27-13 advantage with 2:16 left in the third quarter. McAllister's 51-yard completion to Rison set up Blake Ezor's 3-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter as the Spartans pulled to within 27-20.
Hampton's third TD, a 32-yard run, gave Georgia a 34-20 lead with 11:58 remaining. Rison scored on a 50-yard pass from McAllister late in the fourth quarter, but the Spartans' rally fell short as Georgia controlled the clock for the final 3:42 of the game.
The two teams combined for 855 total yards with the Spartans outgaining the Bulldogs, 446-409. Rison caught nine passes for 252 yards and three scores. McAllister hit 14-of-24 throws for 288 yards and three TDs while Ezor led all rushers with 146 yards on 33 attempts.
Jan. 1, 2009 | Capital One Bowl:
Michigan State took the opening kickoff and drove the ball to the Georgia 39-yard line, but Dwayne Holmes was stopped short of a first down on a fake punt. The Bulldogs responded with an eight-play, 48-yard drive of their own and took a 3-0 lead on Blair Walsh's 32-yard field goal with 9:26 left in the first quarter.
Georgia's second possession resulted in a turnover, as Kendell Davis-Clark returned his first career interception 24 yards to set up Brett Swenson's 20-yard field goal that tied the score at 3 with 4:50 to play in the opening quarter.
The Spartans forced two turnovers in the first quarter but managed to produce only a field goal. Late in the first half, another Georgia miscue - a mishandled snap by punter Brian Mimbs - gave the Spartans great field position at the UGA 40. However, Michigan State had to settle for a 32-yard field goal from Swenson and a 6-3 halftime lead after Brian Hoyer was sacked by Jarius Wynn for a 5-yard loss on a third-and-6 play from the Bulldog 10.
Georgia's offense came to life in the second half, as Stafford connected on 14-of-17 passes for 179 yards and three scores. Stafford capped off a 10-play, 96-yard drive with a 35-yard TD strike to Michael Moore as the Bulldogs took the lead for good at 10-6 with 3:31 remaining in the third quarter. Prince Miller's 38-yard punt return plus a 15-yard personal-foul penalty set up Stafford's second scoring pass, a 21-yarder to Aaron White with 0:09 to play in the third quarter to build a 17-6 advantage.
Early in the fourth quarter, Michigan State pulled to within 17-12 as Javon Ringer finished off a 10-play, 54-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge for his school-record 22nd TD run of the season. Georgia answered with an 11-play, 67-yard drive and iced the game on Stafford's 21-yard TD toss to Knowshon Moreno, who made the grab over Greg Jones at the front corner of the end zone.
The Bulldog defense held Michigan State to a season-low 236 total yards, including just 31 yards on 34 rushing attempts.
DANTONIO NO STRANGER TO POSTSEASON PLAY -
Dantonio becomes the first coach in Michigan State history to earn a postseason bowl bid in each of his first five seasons.
SPARTANS TOUGH IN NON-CONFERENCE GAMES -
UPSET SPECIALS -
For the second year in a row, Michigan State defeated ranked opponents on back-to-back Saturdays (28-14 over No. 11 Michigan and 37-31 over No. 4 Wisconsin). In 2010, MSU knocked off No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 18 Michigan on consecutive weekends. The Spartans have defeated three ranked opponents in one season six times in program history (last time: 2001).
Under head coach Mark Dantonio, Michigan State has defeated seven ranked opponents: No. 11 (AP)/No. 10 (USA TODAY) Michigan and No. 4 (AP/USA TODAY) Wisconsin in 2011; No. 11 (AP)/No. 9 (USA TODAY) Wisconsin and No. 18 (AP)/No. 17 (USA TODAY) Michigan in 2010; No. 22 (AP) Michigan in 2009; No. 22 (USA TODAY) Northwestern in 2008; and No. 22 (USA TODAY) Penn State in 2007.
Since 1998, Michigan State is 9-8 (.529) against teams ranked in the AP Top 10, including a 6-3 record (.667) in games played in Spartan Stadium.
SPARTANS FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE -
SPARTANS FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE, PART II -
Other notable Floridians who have worn the Spartan football uniform include: cornerback Amp Campbell (Sarasota, 1996-99), running back Sedrick Irvin (Miami, 1996-98), linebacker Carlos Jenkins (Boynton Beach, 1987-90), quarterback Bobby McAllister (Pompano Beach, 1985-88), wide receiver Gari Scott (Lake Park, 1996-99), defensive tackle Josh Shaw (Fort Lauderdale, 1998-2001), placekicker Brett Swenson (Pompano Beach, 2006-09), cornerback Jeremy Ware (Fort Myers, 2008-09) and safety Thomas Wright (Lake Wales, 1999-2002).
MSU/TAMPA CONNECTIONS -
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Adam Hall was a four-year letterman (1999-2002) for legendary Michigan State head coach Ron Mason. Hall helped lead the Spartans to two Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season championships (1999 and 2001), two CCHA Tournament titles (2000 and 2001) and four NCAA Tournament appearances, including two trips to the Frozen Four (1999 and 2001). The Kalamazoo, Mich., native accounted for 30-plus points in each of his last three seasons. His Spartan career totals include: 159 games, 79 goals, 47 assists and 126 points. A 10-year NHL veteran, Hall is in his third season with the Lightning.
SPARTANS FROM THE PEACH STATE -
WINNINGEST SENIOR CLASS IN MSU HISTORY -
The Class of 2011 includes fullback Todd Anderson (Napoleon, Mich.), tight end Garrett Celek (Cincinnati, Ohio), quarterback Kirk Cousins (Holland, Mich.), wide receiver B.J. Cunningham (Westerville, Ohio), offensive guard Joel Foreman (Highland, Mich.), tight end Brian Linthicum (St. Louis, Mo.), wide receiver Keshawn Martin (Inkster, Mich.), offensive lineman Jared McGaha (Powell, Tenn.), wide receiver Keith Nichol (Lowell, Mich.), defensive tackle Blake Pacheco (Salinas, Calif.), nose tackle Kevin Pickelman (Marshall, Mich.), free safety Trenton Robinson (Bay City, Mich.), wide receiver Chris D. Rucker (Detroit, Mich.), punter Kyle Selden (Waterford, Mich.), fullback Adam Setterbo (Spring Lake, Mich.), wide receiver Brad Sonntag (Saginaw, Mich.) and defensive lineman Johnathan Strayhorn (Detroit, Mich.). Those 17 seniors were recognized during a pregame ceremony before the final home game against Indiana.
COUSINS NAMED MANNING AWARD FINALIST -
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Cousins ranks among the Big Ten leaders in touchdown passes (second with 24), passing yards (third at 232.0 yards per game), passing efficiency (third with a 151.4 rating) and total offense (sixth at 227.2 ypg.). He has completed 240-of-369 throws (.650) for 3,016 yards, 24 TDs and seven interceptions. Cousins, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the league's head coaches, has been named one of 10 finalists for the Manning Award.
During his last five games, Cousins is 93-of-138 passing (.674) for 1,323 yards (264.6 ypg.), 13 TDs and two interceptions.
In the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin, Cousins completed 22-of-30 passes for 281 yards and tied his career high with three touchdowns while setting MSU's single-season passing touchdown record in the process. Cousins, who has 24 passing TDs this season, passed Drew Stanton, who threw 22 TDs in 2005. It also marked Cousins' 25th career 200-yard passing game, extending his school record. Cousins became MSU's all-time leader in completions with his 22 in the game, giving him 696 for his career, passing Jeff Smoker (685 from 2000-03). He also became just the third Spartan quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season, joining Jeff Smoker (3,395 in 2003) and Drew Stanton (3,077 in 2005); Cousins has 3,016 passing yards this season. Cousins tied the Spartan single-season record with a 30-yard TD pass to B.J. Cunningham on fourth-and-inches on the first play of the second quarter, cutting the Badger lead to 21-14. Cousins set the MSU single-season TD record in the second quarter with his 23rd TD of the season; Nichol caught a 3-yard completion from Cousins, then lateraled the ball to Cunningham, who proceeded to run it in from 7 yards out. Cousins was 15-for-17 for 181 yards and two TDs in the first half against the Badgers. His third TD pass was a 44-yarder to Cunningham in the third quarter.
He connected on 14-of-20 throws for 214 yards, two TDs and one interception in leading Michigan State to the outright Big Ten Legends Division title, thanks to a 31-17 victory at Northwestern. After a slow start (1-of-4 for 9 yards), Cousins completed 13 of his last 16 passes for 205 yards, including scoring strikes of 33 and 29 yards to B.J. Cunningham. He also became MSU's career leader in TD passes (62) and 200-yard passing games (24), breaking records previously held by Jeff Smoker (61 TD passes and 23 200-yard games). It marked his ninth 200-yard passing game of the season. Cousins also rushed four times for 25 yards, including two scrambles (21 and 8 yards) for first downs.
In his last game at Spartan Stadium, Cousins completed 16-of-23 throws for 272 yards in the 55-3 win over Indiana on Senior Day. He also tied his career high with three TD passes (63 and 7 yards to Cunningham; and 47 yards to Keshawn Martin).
Cousins hit 18-of-31 throws for 260 yards and three TDs in MSU's 37-21 victory at Iowa, as the Spartans recorded their first win in Iowa City since 1989, ending a seven-game losing streak in Kinnick Stadium. He became just the second Spartan quarterback to eclipse the 8,000-yard passing milestone. Cousins also tied his career high with three TD passes, including first-half scoring tosses of 6 and 22 yards to Cunningham and 17 yards to Edwin Baker. Cousins completed 23-of-34 passes for 296 yards and two TDs in MSU's 31-24 victory over Minnesota. On the final drive of the first half, he went 6-of-8 passing for 66 yards, including a 2-yard TD toss to fullback Todd Anderson on a first-and-goal play. Cousins completed passes to four different receivers during that eight-play, 74-yard drive that last 52 seconds.
He became the winningest quarterback in Spartan history with MSU's dramatic 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin on Oct. 29. It marked his 22nd career victory, breaking the mark previously held by Smoker, who recorded 21 wins from 2000-03. In addition, Cousins was named Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week after connecting on 22-of-31 throws for 290 yards and three TDs against the Badgers, including his 44-yard Hail Mary pass to Keith Nichol on the final play of regulation. The three TD passes matched his career best. In addition to the game-winner to Nichol, Cousins completed scoring passes of 35 yards to Cunningham and 15 yards to Martin.
Battling windy conditions with gusts up to 40 mph, Cousins completed 13-of-24 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns in Michigan State's 28-14 victory over No. 11 and previously undefeated Michigan. Cousins became the first Spartan starting quarterback to win three straight games over the Wolverines.
Cousins completed 20-of-32 passes for 250 yards in MSU's 10-7 victory at Ohio State, as the Spartans ended a seven-game losing streak against the Buckeyes and posted their first win in Columbus since 1998. His 33-yard TD strike to Cunningham in the back of the end zone gave MSU a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. His 250 passing yards marked the sixth-best single-game effort by a Spartan quarterback against Ohio State.
He completed 13-of-22 throws for 213 yards, one TD and one interception in MSU's 45-7 victory over Central Michigan.
Cousins recorded his fourth career 300-yard passing game at Notre Dame while setting personal bests for pass completions (34) and pass attempts (53). His 329 passing yards are the most ever by a Spartan quarterback against the Irish (previous record: 327 yards by Drew Stanton, 2005). His 34 completions are second-highest single-game total in MSU history (school record: 35 by Jeff Smoker vs. Ohio State, 2003) while his 53 attempts are fifth-best figure in school history and the most since Brian Hoyer attempted a school-record 61 passes at Penn State in 2006. In three career games against Notre Dame, Cousins completed 72 percent of his passes (68-of-95) for 734 yards, four TDs and three interceptions.
Cousins connected on 18-of-22 throws for 222 passing yards in the 2011 season opener against Youngstown State, including an 18-yard TD strike to Cunningham late in the third quarter that gave MSU a 21-6 lead. He completed his first six pass attempts for 114 yards.
The Holland, Mich., native ranks first in MSU history in completion percentage (.646; 696 of 1,078), TD passes (65), passing efficiency (148.3), pass completions (696) and 200-yard passing games (25). Those figures also rank among the Top 10 in Big Ten history: third in completion percentage, fourth in passing efficiency and 10th in touchdown passes. He also is listed among MSU's all-time leaders in pass attempts (second with 1,078), passing yards (second with 8,831 yards) and total offense (second with 8,681 yards). Cousins needs just 102 passing yards in the Outback Bowl to become MSU's all-time leader in passing yards (record: Jeff Smoker with 8,932 yards from 2000-03). In addition, Cousins ranks among all active NCAA FBS leaders in passing efficiency (12th), passing yards (14th), TD passes (16th), completions (16th), total offense (17th) and completion percentage (18th).
COUSINS NAMED TO 2011 NFF SCHOLAR-ATHLETE CLASS -
The NFF's National Scholar-Athlete program, launched in 1959, is the first initiative in history to award scholar-athletes postgraduate scholarships for their combined athletic, academic and leadership abilities. Nominated by their respective schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first-team player and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.
Cousins becomes the fifth NFF National Scholar-Athlete in Michigan State history and the first since safety Steve Wasylk earned the honor in 1993.
Selected from a nationwide pool of 127 student-athletes, representing all NCAA divisions as well as NAIA, the 16-member class also included: Georgia punter Drew Butler, Delta State (Miss.) quarterback Micah Davis, Navy offensive guard John Dowd, Northwestern State linebacker Yaser Elqutub, South Dakota State running back Chris Ganious, Colorado School of Mines quarterback Clay Garcia, Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish, Kansas State defensive back Tysyn Hartman, South Florida offensive lineman Chaz Hine, Purdue linebacker Joe Holland, Washington State wide receiver Jared Karstetter, Army linebacker Andrew Rodriguez, Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Yale quarterback Patrick Witt and Dubuque (Iowa) wide receiver Michael Zweifel.
Named in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University, and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal, the award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship. A total of $300,000 in scholarships was distributed during the annual NFF Awards Dinner. Army linebacker Andrew Rodriguez was the 2011 recipient of the Campbell Trophy.
Cousins recently accepted an invitation to join NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert as a panelist for an education session titled "Students First: Giving Student-Athletes the College Experience They Deserve" on Jan. 11, 2012, at the NCAA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind.
Just the second three-time captain in the 115-year history of Spartan football, Cousins was selected to speak on behalf of all student-athletes attending the 2011 Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. His speech on "privilege and responsibility" has more than 161,000 views on YouTube. Cousins participates in the Spartan Buddies program, volunteering in the pediatric ward at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, and the Athletes in Action sports ministry. In 2010, he was named to the Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team, the preeminent community service award in college football, and was presented the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award (MSU recipient) and MSU's Clarence J. Underwood Jr. Sportsmanship Award. Cousins, who carries a 3.68 grade-point average in kinesiology, graduated in December 2011.
Cousins Named wuerffel trophy finalist for second-straight year - For the second-straight year, Michigan State fifth-year senior quarterback Kirk Cousins was named one of the finalists for the Wuerffel Trophy, the national award that honors the college football player who best combines exemplary community service with outstanding academic and athletic achievement.
The award is named after former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, who led the Florida Gators to the 1996 National Championship, played six years in the National Football League and has received national recognition for his humanitarian and community service efforts with Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans and around the country. Offensive lineman Barrett Jones of Alabama was the 2011 recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy.
CUNNINGHAM CLOSING OUT BANNER SENIOR YEAR -
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Cunningham is Michigan State's all-time leader in receptions (211) and receiving yards (3,020). His 211 receptions are seventh most in Big Ten history. He also is listed among the school's career leaders in TD receptions (second with 25) and 100-yard receiving games (third with 10). In addition, Cunningham ranks among all active NCAA FBS leaders in receiving yards (ninth), TD catches (11th) and receptions (13th).
Cunningham became MSU's all-time leader in receiving yards during the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin with his 44-yard TD reception in the third quarter, passing Andre Rison, who previously held the record with 2,992 receiving yards. Cunningham recorded his eighth 100-yard receiving game of the season with 115 yards on five catches, establishing a school record. Cunningham recorded a career-high three TDs against the Badgers: he scored his first TD on a 30-yard pass from Cousins on fourth-and-inches on the first play of the second quarter, cutting the Badger lead to 21-14; for his second TD, he caught a lateral from Keith Nichol at the 7-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown; his third touchdown, a 44-yarder, arrived on a third-and-6 play with 1:41 left in the third quarter. In five career games against Wisconsin, Cunningham had 22 catches for 309 yards and six touchdowns.
Cunningham recorded his seventh 100-yard receiving game of the season with six catches for 120 yards, including TD receptions of 33 and 29 yards from Kirk Cousins, in the Spartans' 31-17 victory at Northwestern.
He had six receptions for 132 yards and two TDs in MSU's 55-3 victory over Indiana on Senior Day.
Cunningham had four catches for 46 yards in MSU's 37-21 victory at Iowa, including first-half TD grabs of 6 and 22 yards from Kirk Cousins as the Spartans built a 31-7 halftime lead.
Cunningham recorded his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season with three receptions for 104 yards in the win over Minnesota. His season-long 69-yard reception from Cousins in the first quarter helped set up MSU's first touchdown.
Cunningham had his streak of 41 consecutive regular-season games with at least one pass reception come to an end at Nebraska.
He had six receptions for 102 yards in MSU's 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin, including a 35-yard TD grab from Cousins in the second quarter.
Cunningham had nine receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown in MSU's 10-7 victory at Ohio State, as the Spartans ended a seven-game losing streak against the Buckeyes and recorded their first win in Columbus since 1998. He scored on a 33-yard strike from Cousins to give MSU a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. His 154 receiving yards are the most ever by a Spartan against Ohio State (previous record: 135 receiving yards by Frank Foreman, 1969).
He had three catches for 67 yards in MSU's 45-7 victory over Central Michigan, including a 54-yard grab from Cousins on the game's opening series that set up Le'Veon Bell's 1-yard TD run.
Cunningham recorded career highs in receptions (12) and receiving yards (158) at Notre Dame. His 12 catches tied for fourth most in a game by a Spartan wide receiver (record: 14 by Matt Trannon vs. Eastern Michigan in 2006). His 158 receiving yards were the most since Blair White had 186 yards against Northwestern in 2009, and the second most for a Spartan wide receiver against Notre Dame (Charles Rogers, 175 yards in 2002). It marked his second-career 100-yard receiving game against the Irish (seven receptions for 101 yards vs. Notre Dame in 2010). In four career games against Notre Dame, Cunningham had 26 receptions for 361 yards and one TD.
Cunningham became MSU's all-time leader in receptions with his 7-yard grab on a third-and-4 play on the first series against Florida Atlantic. He finished with five catches for 73 yards against the Owls.
The Westerville, Ohio, native caught nine passes for 130 yards in the 2011 season opener against Youngstown State, as he tied Trannon's (2003-06) record for career receptions with 148. His 18-yard TD catch from Cousins late in the third quarter gave MSU a 21-6 lead.
Keshawn Martin PROVIDES HOME-RUN THREAT -
This season, Martin has recorded career highs in receptions (62) and receiving yards (742). The multi-dimensional threat has accounted for seven touchdowns in 2011 (four receiving, two rushing and one punt return) and ranks third on the team in all-purpose yards with 1,149 (742 receiving; 271 punt return, 121 rushing, 15 kick return). His 62 receptions (ninth) and 271 punt return yards (10th) rank among MSU's Top 10 single-season leaders.
The 5-11, 189-pound Martin ranks second in the Big Ten in punt returns (11.8 avg.), fifth in receptions (4.8 pg.) and 10th in receiving yards (57.1 ypg.). In conference games, he finished fourth in the Big Ten in receptions (4.9 per game) and eighth in receiving yards (61.9 ypg.).
Over his last eight games, Martin has posted a team-best 43 catches for 565 yards and 4 TDs while accounting for 899 all-purpose yards (112.4 ypg.).
Martin had a career-high nine receptions for 115 yards and compiled a team-high 153 all-purpose yards in the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin. It marked his second career 100-yard receiving game and first of the season.
He accounted for 122 all-purpose yards and a touchdown in MSU's 31-17 victory at Northwestern, as the Spartans won the Big Ten Legends Division title outright. Martin averaged 30.5 yards on four touches against the Wildcats. His 57-yard punt return for a touchdown in the final minute of the first half gave the Spartans a 17-3 halftime lead. Martin caught two passes for 57 yards, including a 46-yard grab late in the second quarter that set up Le'Veon Bell's 7-yard TD run. He also rushed one time for 8 yards.
Martin was named to the Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll after accounting for a season-high 182 all-purpose yards and two scores in MSU's 55-3 victory over Indiana on Senior Day. He had eight catches for a season-best 99 yards against the Hoosiers, including a 47-yard TD grab from Kirk Cousins late in the first quarter. His eight receptions matched his career high (vs. Notre Dame, 2008). Martin also scored on a 19-yard reverse early in the second quarter that gave the Spartans a 24-3 lead. He also returned five punts for 64 yards, including a 21-yard return in the second quarter that set up Edwin Baker's first rushing touchdown. His 30-yard punt return late in the third quarter helped set up Baker's second TD run early in the fourth quarter.
He had four receptions for 87 yards, including a 67-yard catch, at Iowa. Against Nebraska (five catches for 58 yards) and Minnesota (seven catches for 77 yards), Martin led MSU in both receptions and receiving yards.
In the second quarter of MSU's 37-31 win over No. 4 Wisconsin, Martin scored on a 34-yard double reverse. He also caught five passes for 41 yards against the Badgers, including a 15-yard TD reception early in the fourth quarter that gave the Spartans a 31-17 lead.
Martin had three catches for 31 yards in Michigan State's 28-14 victory over No. 11 Michigan, including TD grabs of 10 and 13 yards in the third quarter.
The Inkster, Mich., native ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in punt return yards (second with 656), kick return yards (eighth with 1,085), all-purpose yards (11th with 3,968), receptions (12th with 123), receiving yards (17th with 1,679) and TD receptions (tied for 17th with 10). He has been a part of 17 total touchdowns in his career (10 receptions, three rush, two punt returns, one pass, one kick return). He is one of just three Spartans in school history, along with Derrick Mason and Bill Simpson, to return two punts for touchdowns (74 yards vs. Wisconsin in 2010; 57 yards vs. Northwestern in 2011). Over the last four seasons, Martin leads the team with 59 plays of 20-plus yards and 17 plays of 40-plus yards.
WORTHY NAMED CONSENSUS FIRST-TEAM ALL-AMERICAN -
He became the first Spartan defensive lineman to earn Associated Press First-Team All-America honors since defensive end Charles "Bubba" Smith in 1966. It also marked the fourth-straight year that a Michigan State player has earned a spot on the AP All-America First Team (running back Javon Ringer, 2009; linebacker Greg Jones, 2009-10), tying the school record (1950-53).
Worthy earned First-Team All-America honors from The Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Walter Camp Football Foundation, CBSSports.com, Yahoo! Sports and NBCSports.com. In addition, he was named one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award (college lineman of the year), one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year) and one of 20 quarterfinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy (presented to Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year).
A first-team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media, Worthy ranks fourth on the team in tackles for loss (8.5 for 40 yards), including 3.5 sacks (28 yards). He has recorded 25 tackles (15 solos, 10 assists) and been credited with 14 quarterback hits and 10 QB hurries.
Worthy tied a career high with two tackles for loss (3 yards) in the 55-3 win over Indiana. In its 37-21 win at Iowa, MSU limited Marcus Coker, the nation's sixth-leading rusher, to just 57 yards on 21 carries - 65 yards below his season rushing average.
He made three tackles in MSU's 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin, including one for a 2-yard loss. Worthy had two stops in MSU's 28-14 win over No. 11 Michigan, including a 4-yard half sack. He also produced two tackles in MSU's 10-7 victory at Ohio State, with 1.5 tackles for loss including a 5-yard sack.
Worthy registered a season-high four stops and recovered a fumble at Notre Dame. He wore retired jersey No. 95 against the Irish as a tribute to former two-time All-American "Bubba" Smith, who passed away in early August. Smith's final game as a Spartan came in the 1966 "Game of the Century" between the No. 1 Irish and No. 2 Spartans that ended in a 10-10 tie.
The Huber Heights, Ohio, native has started 37 of 39 career games and recorded 102 tackles, with 25.5 resulting in losses (116 yards) including 12 sacks (78 yards). Those marks rank among MSU's all-time leaders: tied for 12th in sacks and tied for 18th in tackles for loss.
SADLER A KEY WEAPON ON SPECIAL TEAMS -
Sadler was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for his performance in the win over Iowa. He averaged a season-best 46.2 yards per punt (six punts for 277 yards), including three inside the opponent's 20, against the Hawkeyes.
Sadler averaged just 35.0 yards on five punts in Michigan State's 31-24 victory over Minnesota, but a season-best four of his five punts were placed inside the Gopher 20-yard line as he earned Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors. He delivered two clutch punts in the final seven minutes, twice pinning Minnesota inside its own 10-yard line. His first punt was downed at the Minnesota 6 and the second fair caught by Brandon Green at the Gopher 10.
Sadler was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for his role in the victory vs. Michigan. Sadler averaged 41.0 yards per punt on five attempts against the Wolverines, had one punt downed inside the Michigan 20-yard line, and delivered a long of 45 yards despite wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour in Spartan Stadium.
RAY NAMED DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL/FWAA COURAGE AWARD WINNER -
The award will be presented Jan. 3, 2012, at the AVMed Orange Bowl Coaches Luncheon in Miami; Ray will be honored again Jan. 4 on the field during the Discover Orange Bowl.
Ray signed with Michigan State as a highly recruited lineman from Chicago's Mount Carmel High School in 2007, but was soon diagnosed with cancer in his left leg. Through nine surgeries - including four bone grafts - countless rounds of chemotherapy and several outbreaks of infection, he was unable to practice or play. For almost two years, he was unable to walk without crutches.
He had been given a medical disqualification and remained on scholarship with Michigan State. But last April, doctors cleared him to resume football.
Still, practicing was one thing; playing quite another. On Sept. 3, when the Spartans opened the season against Youngstown State, starting left guard Joel Foreman - a fifth-year senior and a team co-captain - asked Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio if he could give up his position to his friend. Foreman had started 22 straight games and 36 of 38 in his career.
Ray participated in only the first play, but blocked two players. He has since played against Florida Atlantic and Indiana, and continues to practice with the goal of earning more playing time.
"This is a tremendous award for a young man who has conquered all of the odds up against him," MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. "He's played in games this year and has participated on the practice field daily. It's been a long road. He was on crutches for almost two years, from 2007 to 2009. He's really a living example to our football team on what you can do with a positive attitude and if you just continue to work, how you can conquer all obstacles."
The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine's senior writer Gene Wojciechowski, also an FWAA member. A select group of FWAA members vote on the recipient each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship. Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).
SIX SPARTANS PARTICIPATE IN FALL COMMENCEMENT -
In just five seasons under head coach Mark Dantonio, 67 Spartans have earned their undergraduate degrees.
SADLER NAMED TO CAPITAL ONE ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA TEAM -
Sadler, an applied engineering sciences major, sports a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade-point average.
To be nominated for the Academic All-America Team, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.3 cumulative grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale) for his career. He also must have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing.
In addition to Sadler, three other Michigan State players - sophomore linebacker Max Bullough, fifth-year senior quarterback Kirk Cousins and fifth-year senior offensive guard Joel Foreman - were named the Capital One Academic All-District First Team (Disctrict 5), as selected by CoSIDA. District 5 includes all schools from the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
THIRTEEN SPARTANS EARN ACADEMIC ALL-BIG TEN HONORS -
Michigan State's list of honorees includes eight multi-year selections. Cousins and Foreman became the 15th and 16th four-time Academic All-Big Ten selections in MSU history. Deyo, Nichol and Ruhland are featured on the academic all-conference team for the third-straight year, while Caper, Klatt and Maxwell have made the honor roll for the second year in a row.
at the official