Spartans Take On Florida Atlantic Saturday in Spartan Stadium
Sept. 9, 2011
FIRST-AND-10 (what you need to know about the MSU-FAU matchup) -
Michigan State is 3-6 all-time against teams from the Sunshine State (1-0 vs. Florida, 2-0 vs. Florida Atlantic, 0-2 vs. Florida State and 0-4 vs. Miami-Fla.).
Michigan State has compiled a 37-15 record (.712) in games played against non-conference opponents since 1999. Mark Dantonio is 14-7 (.667) against non-conference opponents, including a 12-1 record in Spartan Stadium. Overall, the Spartans have won 20 of their last 28 non-league games.
Fifth-year senior B.J. Cunningham is just one catch away from becoming the all-time receptions leader in Michigan State history. Cunningham produced career highs for receptions (9) and receiving yards (130) in the season opener against Youngstown State, as he tied Matt Trannon's record for career receptions with 148. The Westerville, Ohio, native also scored on an 18-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter against the Penguins, as he moved into a tie for eighth place on MSU's all-time list for TD catches with 14. Cunningham has caught at least one pass in 35 consecutive regular-season games.
With his 222 passing yards against Youngstown State, fifth-year senior Kirk Cousins became just the fourth Spartan quarterback to eclipse the 6,000-yard mark, joining Jeff Smoker (8,932 yards), Drew Stanton (6,524 yards) and Brian Hoyer (6,159 yards). Cousins also moved into a tie for fifth place at MSU for most touchdown passes (42) as he threw an 18-yard strike to B.J. Cunningham in the third quarter. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Cousins now has 6,037 career passing yards and his completion percentage of .648 is currently the best in MSU history and third in the Big Ten record book.
Cousins, now in his third season as Michigan State's starting quarterback, has a chance to win more games than any other QB in Spartan history. He has compiled a 17-9 record (.654) in 26 career starts (school record: 21 career victories by Jeff Smoker, 2000-03). His career winning percentage (seventh) and career victories (11th) rank among all active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks.
Senior Keshawn Martin needs 35 receiving yards to reach the 1,000-yard career milestone. In 35 career games, Martin has 63 catches for 965 yards (15.3 avg.) and six touchdowns.
Sophomore linebacker Max Bullough made his first career start a memorable one last Friday against Youngstown State as he compiled a career-high 15 tackles (3 solos, 12 assists), the most of any Big Ten player on the first weekend of action. Bullough had 23 tackles all of last season playing as a true freshman, primarily on special teams.
Michigan State's starting lineup for the 2011 season opener against Youngstown State featured 10 first-time starters, including three on the offensive side of the football, five on defense and two specialists. First-time starters on offense included: left guard Arthur Ray Jr. (6-3, 299, Sr.), right tackle Skyler Burkland (6-7, 305, R-Fr.) and tight end Dion Sims (6-5, 276, R-So.). First-time starters on defense included: defensive end Marcus Rush (6-2, 250, R-Fr.), nose tackle Anthony Rashad White (6-2, 316, Jr.), defensive end William Gholston (6-7, 280, So.), Mike linebacker Max Bullough (6-3, 245, So.) and Sam linebacker Steve Gardiner (6-1, 222, Jr.). Mike Sadler (6-0, 182, R-Fr.) and Matt Giampapa (6-2, 222, Fr.) also made their debuts as the starting punter and long snapper, respectively. In addition, junior Blake Treadwell (6-3, 295, Jr.) started his first career game at center after starting six times in his first two seasons as a defensive lineman.
Defensively, several Spartans had career nights against Youngstown State: Denicos Allen recorded a career-best nine stops, including 1.5 for losses (4 yards); Johnny Adams matched his career highs for tackles (7) and pass break-ups (2); William Gholston set career highs for tackles (6) and tackles for loss (2 for 4 yards); and Darqueze Dennard posted a career-high six tackles.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS -
In five seasons under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State has produced a 23-6 record (.793) in home games, including its current eight-game winning streak. It marks MSU's longest home streak since winning nine-straight from 1998-2000.
In eight seasons as a head coach, Mark Dantonio's teams have compiled an 19-11 record (.633) during the month of September, including a 14-4 mark (.778) at Michigan State.
Senior Keshawn Martin has accounted for touchdowns in five different ways during his career (rushing, receiving, passing, punt return and kickoff return), joining Florida International's T.Y. Hilton as the only active players in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision that have accomplished that feat.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW -
Following last Thursday's walk-thru in Spartan Stadium, head coach Mark Dantonio announced that walk-ons (sophomore linebacker) Kyler Elsworth and (fifth-year senior wide receiver) Brad Sonntag have been awarded scholarships for the 2011-12 academic year.
Michigan State has a new natural grass playing surface in Spartan Stadium this season. Following the June 26, 2011, U2 "360" concert, the entire field had to be replaced. The new surface, planted in April 2010 at Graff's Turf Farms in Fort Morgan, Colo., is comprised of a blend of four varieties of Kentucky bluegrass. The installation of the new sod, transported to Spartan Stadium in 26 refrigerator trucks, took three days (July 12-15).
Aaron Bates NAMED HONORARY CAPTAIN -
As a senior in 2010, Bates led the Big Ten and ranked No. 13 in the NCAA FBS in punting with his 45.0-yard average while earning SI.com second-team All-America and first-team All-Big Ten honors from the media. His 45.0-yard punting average ranked fifth on MSU's single-season chart. Bates placed 17 of his 57 punts (30 percent) inside the opponent's 20-yard line and hit 16 punts 50 or more yards.
He averaged 43.4 yards on seven punts against No. 15 Alabama in the 2011 Capital One Bowl, including two kicks downed inside the Crimson Tide 20.
Bates averaged 46.5 yards on four punts in MSU's 28-22 victory at Penn State, including two kicks placed inside the Nittany Lion 20-yard line. Bates dropped a season-best three kicks inside the 20 against Purdue while averaging 43.4 yards on five punts. He averaged 48.5 yards on six punts at Iowa, including one kick downed inside the 20.
Bates was named Big Ten Co-Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance at Northwestern, averaging 43.0 yards on six punts and his 21-yard completion to Bennie Fowler off a fake punt helped fuel MSU's fourth-quarter comeback.
He averaged 45.0 yards on four punts at Michigan, including a career-long 69-yarder, and placed two kicks inside the 20.
Bates also was selected Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week after recording season highs in punts (8) and punting yards (363) against Notre Dame, including a 62-yarder, and placing two kicks inside the Irish 20. In addition, his 29-yard touchdown pass to tight end Charlie Gantt off a fake field goal gave MSU a 34-31 overtime victory over the Irish.
The New Concord, Ohio, native finished his career ranked among MSU's all-time leaders in punts (second at 260), punting yards (second at 10,907) and punting average (seventh at 42.0). He placed 85 of his 260 career punts (33 percent) inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection (2008-10), Bates graduated in May 2011 with a 3.95 grade-point average in general management. At MSU's 2011 Academic Gala, he received the Gwendolyn Norrell Community Service and Leadership Award, presented to the student-athlete who best exemplifies the goal of the PACT (Putting Athletes and Community Together) program. Prior to the 2011 season, Bates became the first punter in the 114-year history of Spartan football to be named captain.
He also was named to the National Football Foundation's 2011 Hampshire Honor Society (comprised of college players from all divisions - NCAA and NAIA - who maintain a 3.2 grade-point average or better). Bates became the fifth Spartan to qualify for membership in the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, joining snapper Brian Bury (2007), punter Brandon Fields (2007), quarterback Drew Stanton (2007) and wide receiver Blair White (2010).
The 6-foot, 198-pound Bates spent a week in training camp with the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers before being waived on Aug. 4.
COUSINS ESTABLISHES HIMSELF AS ONE OF NATION'S TOP QUARTERBACKS -
With 222 passing yards in the 2011 season opener against Youngstown State, Cousins became just the fourth Spartan quarterback to eclipse the 6,000-yard career milestone, joining Jeff Smoker (8,932 yards), Drew Stanton (6,524) and Brian Hoyer (6,159). He connected on 18-of-22 throws against the Penguins, including an 18-yard touchdown strike to B.J. Cunningham late in the third quarter that gave MSU a 21-6 lead. Cousins completed his first six pass attempts for 114 yards.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Cousins currently ranks first in MSU history in completion percentage (.643; 456-of-709) and passing efficiency (146.7). Those figures also rank among the best in Big Ten history: third in completion percentage and fifth in passing efficiency. He is listed among MSU's all-time leaders in total offense (third with 5,937 yards), passing yards (fourth with 6,037 yards), pass completions (fourth with 474), touchdown passes (tied for fifth with 42) and pass attempts (eighth with 731). His 16 career 200-yard passing games rank third in Spartan history. In addition, Cousins ranks among all active NCAA FBS leaders in passing efficiency (sixth), completion percentage (eighth), passing yards (12th) and TD passes (14th).
CUNNINGHAM OPENS 2011 SEASON WITH A BANG -
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Cunningham also ranks among the school's career leaders in receiving yards (11th with 1,910). In addition, he ranks among all active NCAA FBS leaders in receptions (15th), receiving yards (19th) and TD receptions (tied for 20th). The Biletnikoff Award candidate has caught at least one pass in 35 consecutive regular-season games.
OPENING-DAY STARTING LINEUP FEATURED 10 FIRST-TIME STARTERS -
at the official