No. 20 Spartans Welcome No. 14 Ohio State for Big Ten Opener
Sept. 27, 2012
FIRST-AND-10 (what you need to know about the MSU-Ohio State matchup) -
Michigan State becomes the first team to play host to three opponents ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 before Oct. 1 since Stanford and Washington in 2007. The Spartans entertained No. 24 Boise State in the 2012 season opener, No. 20 Notre Dame in Week 3 and No. 14 Ohio State in the Week 5 Big Ten opener. Since 1996, only four teams have played host to three AP Top 25 opponents before Oct. 1 (2000 - Notre Dame).
Michigan State enters its 60th season of Big Ten competition with a 32-23-4 record (.576) in league openers. The Spartans are 7-3 in Big Ten openers since 2002, including a 3-2 record under Mark Dantonio.
Michigan State is 1-4 in Big Ten openers vs. Ohio State, including an 0-1 mark in games played in Spartan Stadium. The Spartans open Big Ten play against the Buckeyes for the second-straight season.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio spent three years as the defensive coordinator at Ohio State (2001-03) where he served under Jim Tressel. During Dantonio's tenure at Ohio State, the Buckeyes posted a combined record of 32-6 (.842), including the 2002 National Championship. Dantonio previously worked alongside Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell (then special teams coordinator).
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's 2012 roster features 28 players from Ohio, including seven of the Spartans' 24 probable starters for Saturday's game against the Buckeyes: junior left tackle Dan France (North Royalton); sophomore center Travis Jackson (New Albany/St. Francis DeSales); sophomore right tackle Skyler Burkland (Sunbury/Big Walnut); junior running back Le'Veon Bell (Columbus/Groveport Madison); sophomore defensive end Marcus Rush (Cincinnati/Archbishop Moeller); junior linebacker Denicos Allen (Hamilton) and fifth-year senior cornerback Johnny Adams (Akron/Buchtel High School).
Junior running back Le'Veon Bell is off to a spectacular junior season, as he leads the Big Ten and ranks third in the FBS in rushing, averaging 152.5 yards per game. He also ranks second in the nation in carries (117) and 10th in all-purpose yards (173.8 ypg.). The Columbus, Ohio, native was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season after rushing for a career-high 253 yards vs. Eastern Michigan, the sixth most in MSU single-game history, on 36 attempts. Bell totaled 263 all-purpose yards against the Eagles and had a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He owns the top single-game totals in the NCAA FBS this season in rushing yards (253 vs. Eastern Michigan) and carries (44 vs. Boise State).
Junior Dion Sims was selected John Mackey and College Football Performance Awards' National Tight End of the Week after recording his first career 100-yard receiving game with six receptions for 112 yards and a score against Eastern Michigan. Through four games, Sims has 22 receptions for 277 yards - both totals represent career highs. Sims had 12 catches in 2011 and 133 receiving yards in 2009. With 22 receptions, Sims is tied with Arizona State's Chris Coyle for the most catches of any tight end in the NCAA FBS. His 277 receiving yards rank second among tight ends (Coyle: 301 yards). Eighteen of Sims' 22 receptions this season (82 percent) have gone for either a first down or a touchdown.
Michigan State is ranked No. 20 in this week's Associated Press Poll and No. 18 in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll. The Spartans have been ranked in the USA TODAY Poll for a school-record 34 consecutive weeks, dating back to the 2010 season.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS -
MSU is coming off back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time in program history. The 22 wins in 2010 and 2011 were the highest two-year total in school history and ranked tied for seventh most among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams during that same period.
Michigan State's 25 wins since 2010 are tied for seventh most among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin also have 25 wins since the beginning of the 2010 season).
In nine seasons as a head coach, Mark Dantonio's teams have compiled an 25-13 record (.658) during the month of September, including an 19-6 mark (.760) at Michigan State.
Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 32-4 (.889) when leading in time of possession, including a 17-1 record (.944) since 2010. The Spartans currently lead the Big Ten and rank No. 6 in the NCAA FBS in time of possession (34:36 per game).
Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 36-8 (.818) when outrushing its opponent, including a 20-1 record (.952) since 2010.
Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 16-2 (.889) when rushing for 200-plus yards in a game.
Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State has produced a 31-7 record (.816) in home games. The Spartans have won 16 of their last 17 home games. With its 20-3 victory on Sept. 15, Notre Dame snapped MSU's 15-game home winning streak - the fifth-longest in school history. Prior to the 2012 season, the Sporting News named Spartan Stadium No. 3 on its "Five Toughest Places to Play Right Now" list.
Michigan State has won 19 of its last 20 games played in the state of Michigan since the beginning of the 2010 season (16-1 in Spartan Stadium; vs. Florida Atlantic at Ford Field in Detroit in 2010; at Michigan in 2010; at Central Michigan in 2012).
Over the last three seasons, Michigan State is 10-1 in games decided by 10 points or less, including 4-1 in 2011. The only loss came in a 42-39 defeat against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.
STAT LEADERS -
Ohio State (after four games):
THE LAST MEETING -
MSU recorded nine sacks and 13 tackles for loss, both the highest totals for a Spartan defense in the Mark Dantonio era. Seven different players recorded sacks, led by Chris Norman and William Gholston, who each collected a career-high three tackles for loss. Norman had a career-high two sacks for 13 yards, and Denicos Allen also produced two sacks for 16 yards.
Michigan State scored its only touchdown midway through the first quarter on Kirk Cousins' 33-yard strike to B.J. Cunningham in the back of the end zone. Cunningham finished with nine catches for 154 yards - the most receiving yards ever by a Spartan against Ohio State - and it marked his fifth career 100-yard receiving game and third of the season. Cousins finished 20-of-32 passing for 250 yards and two interceptions.
Although turnovers halted several potential scoring drives, the Spartans did extend their lead to 10-0 early in the fourth quarter on Dan Conroy's 50-yard field goal, which tied his career long. It was all the defense would need. Ohio State was held to 178 total yards of offense - and got 62 of those yards on their last drive of the game. The Buckeyes rushed for just 4 yards in the second half and had 35 yards on the ground total. For Michigan State, it was the best defensive performance for the program against Ohio State since its last win over OSU in 1999 when the Buckeyes rushed for 0 net yards and had just 79 total yards of offense. The victory also snapped MSU's seven-game losing streak to the Buckeyes, and it marked MSU's fi rst win over Ohio State in Columbus since 1998.
THE LAST MEETING IN SPARTAN STADIUM -
Pryor showed poise and touch when he threw before sitting on the big lead with handoffs. When he ran, Pryor displayed speed and power by running past defenders and stiff-arming some to the ground. Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells had season highs with 31 carries, 140 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Ohio State led 28-0 midway through the second quarter and made a big play to end Michigan State's comeback hopes early in the fourth. After allowing back-up quarterback Kirk Cousins to drive the Spartans down the field for a TD to open the second half, Malcolm Jenkins' sack forced Cousins to fumble and defensive end Thaddeus Gibson scooped up the football and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown. The Buckeyes kicked a field goal and returned another fumble for a TD.
Pryor helped the Buckeyes score 21 points in the first quarter against a team that hadn't allowed a point in its first four home games this season in the first quarter and was giving up less than 17 points a game overall. He was 5-for-5 for 86 yards in the first quarter and ran for 62 yards on four carries, including a 32-yard gain. Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer didn't start the second half against because of an injured right hand, but returned in the fourth quarter. Hoyer finished 5-of-13 for 27 yards and an interception. Cousins was 17-of-24 for 161 yards with a TD and an interception.
MSU/OHIO STATE COACHING CONNECTIONS -
Michigan State linebackers/special teams coach Mike Tressel is the nephew of former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel. Mike spent two years as a graduate assistant coach at Ohio State, working for his uncle from 2002-03.
Michigan State tight ends/tackles coach Mark Staten served as a graduate assistant for Jim Tressel at Ohio State from 2002-03.
Ohio State tight ends/fullbacks coach Tim Hinton spent three years as running backs coach at Cincinnati (2004-06) under Mark Dantonio.
Ohio State co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Ed Warinner spent two years as a graduate assistant under George Perles at Michigan State (1985-86), working with the linebackers and defensive backs.
Michigan State graduate assistant coach Rob Harley, a member of Ohio State's 2002 National Championship team, earned three letters as a strong safety for Coach Jim Tressel and helped the Buckeyes to a combined record of 29-8 from 2003-05, including three-straight postseason bowl appearances (2003 Fiesta, 2004 Alamo and 2006 Fiesta). His great-great uncle Chic Harley was Ohio State's first three-time All-American. Due largely to his popularity as a player, the Buckeyes quickly outgrew the 20,000-seat Ohio Field and inspired the construction of Ohio Stadium, nicknamed "The House That Harley Built."
MSU/OHIO STATE CONNECTIONS, PART 2 -
Michigan State director of personnel/player development and relations Dino Folino began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio State in 1974-75, working under legendary Coach Woody Hayes.
Michigan State assistant athletics director/head athletic trainer Jeff Monroe graduated from Ohio State in 1972 with a degree in physical education. Monroe spent four years as a student trainer for the Buckeyes from 1969-72.
SPARTANS FROM THE BUCKEYE STATE -
ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY RETURNS TO EAST LANSING -
ESPN College GameDay returns to the Michigan State campus for the second year in a row, as the broadcast crew witnessed from the sidelines Kirk Cousins' 44-yard Hail Mary pass to Keith Nichol on the final play of regulation to give the 15th-ranked Spartans a 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin.
The Spartans are 2-3 when GameDay visits East Lansing (1997: lost to Michigan, 23-7; 1999: defeated Michigan, 34-31; 2004: lost to Notre Dame, 31-24; 2005: lost to Penn State, 31-22; and 2011: defeated Wisconsin, 37-31). It should be noted that Lee Corso is 4-1 picking the winner when GameDay visits the MSU campus, so Spartan fans should keep their fingers crossed when he selects his headgear (Sparty or Brutus Buckeye) on the remote set Saturday.
SCOUTING OHIO STATE -
Offensively, Ohio State ranks among the Big Ten leaders in rushing (second with 229.2 yards per game) and scoring (third with 37.8 points per game). Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller leads the team in nearly every offensive category, including rushing (110.2 ypg.), passing (188.5 ypg.), scoring (11.5 ppg.), total offense (298.8 ypg.) and all-purpose yards (110.2 ypg.).
Miller's favorite target thus far has been junior Corey Brown, who has 20 catches for 233 yards and a touchdown.
Although the Buckeyes are allowing nearly 400 yards of total offense a game (394.8 ypg.), their defense is giving up just over 17 points per contest. OSU ranks tied for ninth in the nation with seven interceptions, led by Travis Howard's league-leading three picks. Sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier ranks first on the team and third in the Big Ten with 40 tackles.
DANTONIO & STAFF PARTICIPATE IN COACH TO CURE MD PROJECT -
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed during childhood and primarily affects boys across all races and cultures. Boys and young men with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy develop progressive muscle weakness that eventually causes loss of mobility, wheelchair dependency and a decline in respiratory and cardiac function. Currently, there is no cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and limited therapeutic options exist.
The Duchenne gene is found on the X-chromosome, so it primarily affects boys - approximately one in every 3,500 live male births across all races and cultures.
Football fans can donate to Duchenne muscular dystrophy research by either going online to www.CoachtoCureMD.org or by texting the word CURE to 90999 (a $5 donation will automatically be added to your next phone bill).
Last year, more than 10,000 college coaches at 505 different institutions participated in Coach To Cure MD events. Both those figures are well higher than in any of the program's first three years (2008-10). The four-year fundraising total is just over $1 million.
Keith Nichol NAMED HONORARY CAPTAIN -
Nichol played in 37 games at Michigan State after transferring from Oklahoma in 2008, including 14 starting assignments. In two-plus seasons, he caught 50 passes for 625 yards (12.5 avg.) and four TDs. Nichol caught at least one pass in 24 of 28 games as a wide receiver.
The 6-2, 220-pound Nichol finished fifth on the team in receptions (26) and fourth in receiving yards (352) in 2011. Seventeen of his 26 receptions (65 percent) resulted in either a TD or a first down. He caught at least one pass in 12 of 14 games.
Nichol matched his career best with four receptions for 53 yards in the Spartans' bowl victory over Georgia, including a 7-yard TD grab from Cousins midway through the fourth quarter that gave MSU its first lead at 20-19. He tied his career high with four catches for 39 yards in the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin. Nichol caught three passes for 41 yards against Minnesota, including a 4-yard TD catch from Cousins in the first quarter. He scored the game-winning TD on a 44-yard Hail Mary from Cousins as time expired in MSU's 37-31 regular-season victory over No. 4 Wisconsin. Nichol had three receptions for a career-best 54 yards against Central Michigan.
In his first year as a wide receiver in 2010, Nichol started eight games and caught 22 passes for 262 yards (11.9 avg.).
Nichol made the transition from quarterback to wide receiver during Alamo Bowl practice in 2009. As a red-shirt sophomore in 2009, Nichol completed 49-of-91 passes (.538) for 764 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. His 7.89 total offense yards per attempt in 2009 ranks first in MSU single-season history.
During his Spartan career, Nichol completed 54 percent of his passes (53-of-98) for nine touchdowns.
NOTES FROM THE EASTERN MICHIGAN GAME -
Michigan State improved its record to 42-7-2 (.843) against current members of the Mid-American Conference. MSU has won 27 of its last 30 games against MAC opponents, including a 2-0 mark in 2012 (won at Central Michigan, 41-7; defeated Eastern Michigan, 23-7).
Mark Dantonio is now 20-9 (.690) against non-conference opponents, including a 16-2 record (.889) in Spartan Stadium. Overall, the Spartans have won 26 of their last 36 non-league games (.722).
Michigan State has allowed less than 180 passing yards in nine of its last 10 non-conference games (EMU threw for 137 yards).
Michigan State limited Eastern Michigan to 46 yards rushing and 183 total yards, the fewest by a Spartan opponent since Ohio State managed 178 yards last season.
Isaiah Lewis matched his career high with 12 tackles against Eastern Michigan. Lewis recorded 12 stops against Minnesota in 2011.
Max Bullough produced a season-high nine tackles, including one for a 4-yard loss, against Eastern Michigan. Bullough has posted at least one tackle for loss in three of the first four games of 2012.
Denicos Allen matched his season-high with six tackles against Eastern Michigan. Allen also recorded his first sack (4 yards) of the season against the Eagles and moved into a tie for 12th place on MSU's all-time list with 12 career sacks.
In his first career start, nose tackle James Kittredge set career highs for tackles (5) and tackles for loss (2.5 for 6 yards) against Eastern Michigan. Kittredge has contributed a total of eight tackles over the last two games (had three stops vs. Notre Dame).
Dan Conroy accounted for 11 points in Michigan State's 23-7 win over Eastern Michigan, converting 3-of-4 field-goal attempts and both extra-point tries. His 35-yard field goal with 1:11 left in the third quarter gave MSU the lead for good at 9-7. With 11 points, Conroy moved into 10th place on MSU's all-time scoring list with 219 career points.
SPARTAN DEFENSE ONE OF THE TOP IN THE NATION -
The Spartan defense ranks among the NCAA FBS Top 20 in seven categories: pass efficiency defense (sixth at 89.7), total defense (sixth at 233.5 ypg.), rushing defense (10th at 69.3 ypg.), passes defended (tied for 10th at 6.3 pg.), scoring defense (11th at 11.8 ppg.), third-down defense (11th at .254) and pass defense (13th at 164.3 ypg.). In addition, MSU also leads the Big Ten in four defensive categories (total defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and scoring defense). Through four games, the Spartans have only surrendered three offensive touchdowns (one rushing, two passing).
In the 17-13 season-opening win over No. 24 Boise State, the Spartans held the Broncos without an offensive touchdown for the first time since 1997. They also limited the nation's highest scoring offense since 2000 to 206 yards of total offense and 37 rushing yards, both lows in the Coach Chris Petersen era at BSU; the 13 points scored were the second fewest under Petersen.
NCAA STAT LEADERS -
Individual Statistics (Top 50)
BELL RANKS THIRD IN NCAA FBS IN RUSHING -
According to STATS, Bell has gained 316 of his 610 rushing yards (52 percent) after contact and has broken 10 tackles this season. He has produced 28 first downs and 12 runs of 10 or more yards, including five gains of 20 or more yards.
The 6-foot-2, 237-pound Bell earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second time this season after rushing for a career-best 253 yards (36 carries) and a TD in Michigan State's 23-7 victory over Eastern Michigan. His 253 yards mark the sixth-highest single-game rushing total in MSU history. It marked Bell's second career 200-yard rushing game and sixth career 100-yard game. With his 15-yard run early in the second, Bell became just the 16th player in Spartan history to reach the 2,000-yard career milestone. He finished with 263 all-purpose yards (253 rushing, -8 receiving, 18 punt return) - the 11th-best single-season total in MSU history.
Bell rushed for 70 yards on 18 carries (3.9 avg.) and scored two touchdowns in the win over Central Michigan.
Bell collected several weekly honors after his career night helped lead Michigan State past No. 24 Boise State, 17-13, in the season-opening win. He was named the Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week by the conference office and also the Big Ten Player of the Week by ESPN.com. In addition, he was named the Heisman Player of the Week by CBSSports.com. Bell rushed for 210 yards and set career highs for rushing attempts (44), receptions (6), receiving yards (55) and all-purpose yards (265) against the Broncos. He outgained the entire Boise State offense, 210-206, and 84 of his 210 yards came after contact. In addition, Bell's 265 all-purpose yards rank as the 10th-highest single-game total in Spartan history, and his 44 carries tied for fourth most in school history.
Bell's 210 rushing yards against Boise State tied for the 23rd-highest single-game total in school history, and he became the first Spartan running back to eclipse the 200-yard mark since Javon Ringer gained 201 yards on 39 rushes against Notre Dame in 2008. The 210 rushing yards were also the most by a Big Ten running back in a season opener since Purdue's Ralph Bolden in 2009 (234 vs. Toledo) and the most by a Spartan in an opener since T.J. Duckett in 2000 (219 vs. Marshall).
Bell has rushed for 2,163 yards and 26 touchdowns in 31 career games. He ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in rushing TDs (tied for ninth with 26), rushing average (14th at 5.33), rushing yards (15th with 2,163) and rushing attempts (tied for 15th with 406).
MAXWELL TAKES OVER THE REIGNS AS STARTING QUARTERBACK -
Maxwell hit 16-of-29 passes for 159 yards and one score in MSU's 23-7 win over Eastern Michigan. In the second half, he connected on 7-of-10 tosses for 128 yards, including a 10-yard TD strike to Dion Sims to give the Spartans a 16-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
In a 20-3 loss to No. 20 Notre Dame, Maxwell set career highs for pass attempts (45) and completions (23) while completing throws to eight different receivers for 187 yards.
Maxwell opened the 2012 season with back-to-back 200-yard passing games against No. 24 Boise State and at Central Michigan and became the first Spartan starting quarterback to win his first two starts since Jeff Smoker in 2000 (Missouri, Notre Dame).
In a 41-7 win at Central Michigan, he completed 20-of-31 passes for a career-high 275 yards and two scores. Maxwell had TD tosses of 20 yards to Dion Sims and 7 yards to Bennie Fowler. In the first half, he went 17-of-28 for 213 yards as MSU built a 24-0 halftime lead.
In his first career start against No. 24 Boise State, Maxwell completed 22-of-38 throws for 248 yards and directed a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. He went 3-for-3 for 38 yards during the nine-play, 56-yard fourth-quarter drive as MSU rallied from a 13-10 deficit. His 18-yard completion to Sims on a third-and-6 play from the BSU 25 set up Le'Veon Bell's game-winning 5-yard TD run. Maxwell iced the game by managing a 13-play, 52-yard drive, including two third-down completions for 15 yards, that consumed the final 6:32 off the clock.
Michigan State's last 19 quarterbacks have compiled a 13-6 record (.684) in their first collegiate start, including a 9-2 mark in home games.
SIMS NAMED JOHN MACKEY AND CFPA NATIONAL TIGHT END OF THE WEEK -
His receptions and receiving yards both represent career highs. He had 12 catches in 2011 and 133 receiving yards in 2009. The 6-foot-5, 285-pound Sims ranks fourth in the Big Ten in receptions (5.5 per game) and fifth in receiving yards (69.2 ypg.).
Sims was selected John Mackey and College Football Performance Awards' National Tight End of the Week after recording his first career 100-yard receiving game with six receptions for 112 yards and a score against Eastern Michigan. He had three catches for 73 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 10-yard TD grab from Andrew Maxwell that gave MSU a 16-7 lead.
The Detroit, Mich., native had a team-high six catches for 52 yards against No. 20 Notre Dame. He caught three passes for 48 yards at Central Michigan, including a 20-yard TD reception from Maxwell late in the second quarter. Sims recorded a career-best seven receptions for 65 yards in the season opener against No. 24 Boise State.
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