Spartans Face Road Test At Unbeaten Wildcats
Oct. 11, 2008
FIRST-AND-10 (what you need to know about the MSU-Northwestern matchup) -
ADDITIONAL QUICK HITTERS -
THE COACHES -
Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern 1996) is 15-14 (.517) in his third year with the Wildcats. Fitzgerald, an assistant coach at Northwestern for five seasons, was promoted to the head coaching position following the sudden death of Randy Walker on June 29, 2006. At age 33, he ranks as the youngest head coach in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. Prior to joining the Northwestern coaching staff in 2001, Fitzgerald spent the 2000 season as an assistant coach at Idaho where he worked with the linebackers and special teams. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant, serving one year each at Maryland (1998) and Colorado (1999). A two-time All-American for Coach Gary Barnett at Northwestern, Fitzgerald earned national defensive player of the year honors in 1995 and '96.
TEAM COMPARISONS -
AVERAGE HEIGHTS & WEIGHTS (STARTERS) -
CLASS BREAKDOWN (STARTERS) -
STAT LEADERS -
Northwestern (after five games):
CURRENT SPARTANS vs. NORTHWESTERN -
STAT COMPARISON -
MSU/NORTHWESTERN SERIES NOTES -
THE LAST MEETING -
THE LAST MEETING AT RYAN FIELD -
SPARTANS FROM THE LAND OF LINCOLN -
Joe Tate NAMED HONORARY CAPTAIN -
A four-year letterwinner from 2000-03, Tate made 29 career starts, including 23 straight at left guard.
The Southfield, Mich., native is in his second year as a graduate assistant in Michigan State's strength and conditioning program.
SPARTANS DEBUT IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS -
It marks MSU's first appearance in the USA TODAY Coaches' Poll since Sept. 23, 2007 (No. 23). The Spartans opened the 2007 season with four straight wins but fell out of the poll following a 37-34 loss at Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener.
It also marks the Spartans' first appearance in the AP Top 25 since Oct. 16, 2005 (No. 22). Thanks to its 44-41 overtime victory at No. 10 Notre Dame, Michigan State debuted at No. 17 in the Sept. 18, 2005, AP Poll. With a 61-14 triumph at Illinois in the 2005 Big Ten opener, the Spartans climbed to No. 11 in the AP Poll. MSU dropped out of the AP rankings after three consecutive defeats, including a 49-14 loss to Northwestern.
SPARTANS' LAST VICTORY OVER A RANKED OPPONENT -
BIG TEN/NCAA STAT LEADERS -
NCAA STAT LEADERS -
Individual Statistics (Top 50)
RINGER APPROACHES RUSHING MILESTONES -
His 212 carries also lead the nation - 33 more attempts than the second running back on the list. He has accounted for 89 percent of Michigan State's rushing yards (988 of 1,108) and 79 percent of its rushing attempts (212 of 270) in 2008.
Ringer plays his best when the game is on the line, rushing for 329 (33 percent) of his 988 yards in the fourth quarter.
Ringer needs 12 yards against Northwestern to reach the 1,000-yard milestone and become MSU's first back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing since T.J. Duckett in 2000 (1,353 yards) and 2001 (1,420). His 988 yards rank as the highest rushing total through the first six games in school history.
He gained 91 yards on a season-low 25 attempts in MSU's 16-13 victory over Iowa.
This season, Ringer already has compiled two of the most productive three- and four-game stretches in school history.
Ringer recorded his fourth-straight 100-yard rushing game, gaining 198 yards on a career-best 44 carries in MSU's 42-29 victory at Indiana in the Big Ten opener. He scored his 12th TD of the season on a 1-yard run early in the third quarter. His 33-yard run around right end late in the fourth quarter set up Brett Swenson's fourth field goal.
For the third week in a row, Ringer was selected Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after becoming the first Spartan back ever to record back-to-back 200-yard rushing games, gaining 201 yards on 39 carries in Michigan State's 23-7 victory over Notre Dame. He became the first offensive player in Big Ten history to earn the award three straight weeks. The only other individual to accomplish that feat was Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny, who was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for three consecutive weeks in 2005 (Sept. 26, Oct. 3 and Oct. 10). This marks the fourth time in Ringer's career that he has won the award, as he garnered the honor once last season after rushing for 202 yards against Indiana.
His 201 rushing yards were the most ever by a Spartan against Notre Dame (previous high: 157 by Dennis Mendyk in 1956). He scored on a pair of 1-yard runs against the Irish. On MSU's final scoring drive, Ringer carried the ball seven straight times for 77 yards, including a 63-yard gain to set up his second TD run. In four career games against Notre Dame, he rushed 83 times for 445 yards and two scores.
Despite playing in a downpour, Ringer carried 43 times for a career-high 282 yards in MSU's 17-0 victory over Florida Atlantic. His 282 rushing yards represent the fourth-best single-game total in Spartan history and the third-highest rushing total in the NCAA Bowl Subdivision thus far this season. Ringer outgained the entire Florida Atlantic team (282 rushing yards vs. 225 total yards for the Owls). He became just the sixth running back in MSU history to eclipse the 3,000-yard career milestone. Ringer scored on runs of 21 and 11 yards against the Owls, and his 32-yard run set up a third-quarter field goal. He accounted for a career-best 308 all-purpose yards against Florida Atlantic, becoming just the eighth player in school history to amass 4,000 career all-purpose yards. His 308 all-purpose yards mark the second-best single-game total in school history, trailing only Eric Allen who produced 397 yards at Purdue in 1971.
Ringer shared Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors (with Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber and Penn State running back Evan Royster) after rushing for 135 yards and a career-best five TDs to lead Michigan State to a 42-10 victory over Eastern Michigan. His five rushing TDs represent the second-best single-game total in Spartan history, just one short of the school record held by Blake Ezor (six rushing TDs vs. Northwestern, 1989). Ringer scored on runs of 4, 6, 2, 1 and 2 yards. He rushed a career-best 34 times against the Eagles - the highest single-game total by a Spartan since Marc Renaud had 35 carries for 229 yards against Minnesota in 1995. Ringer accounted for 205 all-purpose yards against EMU (135 rushing, 8 receiving and 62 kickoff return yards).
He accounted for 200 all-purpose yards in the 2008 season opener at California (81 rushing yards, 17 receiving yards and 102 kickoff return yards). Ringer rushed 27 times for 81 yards against the Golden Bears and scored on runs of 1 and 10 yards.
The Dayton, Ohio, native ranks third (tied with Blake Ezor, 1986-89) on MSU's all-time rushing list with 3,749 career yards (665 carries) and 10th in rushing TDs (24), and his 5.64 yards per carry ranks as the eighth-highest rushing average in school history. Ringer also ranks among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision active career leaders in rushing yards (third at 3,749 yards), all-purpose yards (third at 4,647 yards) and rushing yards per carry (10th at 5.64 avg.). He has 16 career 100-yard rushing games and seven career multi-TD games.
Ringer has been nominated for three national awards: Maxwell Award (Player of the Year), Walter Camp Player of the Year and Doak Walker Award (nation's top running back).
RINGER GAINS ATTENTION IN HEISMAN RACE -
In addition, Ringer ranks fifth in CollegeFootballNews.com's Top 10 Player Race (national player of the year).
DELL DELIVERS BIG PLAYS IN PASSING GAME -
Nineteen of his 20 receptions (95 percent) have resulted in either a first down or a touchdown, including 10 gains of 20 yards or more.
Slowed by a hamstring injury, Dell saw limited playing time in Michigan State's 16-13 victory over Iowa. His 18-yard catch on a third-and-7 play early in the second quarter helped set up Brett Swenson's first field goal that gave the Spartans a 10-0 lead.
He had two catches for 25 yards in MSU's 42-29 victory at Indiana in the Big Ten opener, including a 14-yard TD reception from Brian Hoyer in the second quarter.
Dell had four receptions for 80 yards in MSU's 23-7 victory over Notre Dame, including a 28-yard grab early in the fourth quarter that helped set up Brett Swenson's third field goal.
His 47-yard reception against Florida Atlantic helped set up Javon Ringer's 11-yard TD run that gave the Spartans a 17-0 lead.
He caught three passes for 71 yards (23.7 avg.) in MSU's 42-10 victory over Eastern Michigan, including a pair of 29-yard grabs from Hoyer that set up TD runs for Ringer.
Dell recorded career highs in receptions (9) and receiving yards (202) in MSU's 38-31 loss at California. His 202 receiving yards mark the fifth-best single-game total in Spartan history and the eighth-highest total in the NCAA Bowl Subdivision thus far this season. He became the first Spartan to post a 200-yard receiving game since Charles Rogers (10 catches for 270 yards) against Fresno State in the 2001 Silicon Valley Football Classic.
Eight of his nine receptions in the 2008 season opener resulted in either a first down or a TD, including five gains of 20 yards or more.
Dell had five catches for 141 yards in the fourth quarter against the Golden Bears. His 29-yard TD reception from Hoyer with 3:09 left in the game cut MSU's deficit to seven (38-31). Earlier in the fourth quarter, his 52-yard grab set up a Spartan field goal.
In 13 games as a true freshman last year, Dell had 20 catches for 220 yards (11.0 avg.).
HOYER APPROACHES 5,000-YARD CAREER MILESTONE -
In Big Ten games, Hoyer ranks among the conference leaders in passing efficiency (third with a 144.6 rating), passing yards (fourth at 222.5 yards per game) and total offense (fourth at 221.5 ypg.).
In Michigan State's 16-13 victory over Iowa, Hoyer hit 13-of-24 passes for 184 yards and a score. His 52-yard bomb to B.J. Cunningham on MSU's second possession gave the Spartans a first down at the Hawkeye 12. Three plays later, Hoyer hooked up with tight end Charlie Gantt for a 4-yard scoring play.
He accounted for 266 total yards and three TDs in MSU's 42-29 victory at Indiana in the Big Ten opener. Hoyer recorded his 10th career 200-yard passing game, completing 14-of-26 throws for 261 yards and two scores. He threw TD passes of 14 yards to Mark Dell and a career-long 82-yarder to Gantt. Hoyer completed passes to eight different receivers. He also scored on a 1-yard sneak late in the first quarter to give the Spartans a 13-7 lead. In four career games against the Hoosiers, Hoyer completed 39-for-57 passes for 512 yards, four TDs and no interceptions.
In MSU's 42-10 victory over Eastern Michigan, Hoyer completed 8-of-12 passes for 148 yards. His 29-yard completion to Mark Dell sparked a six-play, 50-yard scoring drive late in the first half as the Spartans built a 21-7 halftime lead, and his 46-yard strike to Cunningham late in the third quarter set up Javon Ringer's fourth touchdown run.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Hoyer recorded his fourth career 300-yard passing game, completing 20-of-48 passes for 321 yards in the 2008 season opener at California. He threw for 186 yards (9-23) in the fourth quarter against the Golden Bears, including a 29-yard TD strike to Dell as the Spartans pulled to within 38-31 with 3:09 to play.
The North Olmsted, Ohio, native already ranks among MSU's career leaders in TD passes (No. 6 with 30), pass completions (No. 7 at 392), pass attempts (No. 7 at 694), completion percentage (No. 9 at .565) and passing yards (No. 7 at 4,900). Hoyer needs 100 passing yards against Northwestern to become just the seventh quarterback in Spartan history to reach the 5,000-yard career milestone. He has compiled a 12-8 record in 20 career starts.
Hoyer, an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by the media in 2007, is listed among 26 preseason candidates for the 2008 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually since 1987 to the nation's top senior quarterback by Transamerica Insurance and Investment Group. Hoyer is one of four Big Ten quarterbacks being considered for the Unitas Golden Arm Award, including Northwestern's C.J. Bacher, Ohio State's Todd Boeckman and Purdue's Curtis Painter.
The award is named in honor of National Football League legend Johnny Unitas, who threw for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns during his 18-year pro career (Baltimore Colts, 1956-72; San Diego Chargers, 1973). He threw a TD pass in an NFL-record 47 consecutive games. Unitas, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, made 10 Pro Bowl appearances, earned All-Pro honors nine times and was selected league MVP on three occasions (1959, 1964 and 1967).
A four-year letterman at Louisville from 1951-54, Unitas passed for more than 3,000 yards and 27 TDs during his collegiate career. He ranks as the only player in Louisville football history to have his jersey number (No. 16) retired.
The 2008 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award will be presented on Dec. 5 at the Tremont Grand in Baltimore, Md.
WILEY EMERGES AS DEFENSIVE, SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYMAKER -
He recorded a season-high seven tackles (4 solos, 3 assists), forced a fumble and broke up a pass in Michigan State's 16-13 victory over Iowa.
The Flint, Mich., native intercepted two passes and recorded five tackles in MSU's 23-7 victory over Notre Dame. His first interception came midway through the first quarter as he outjumped Notre Dame's Duval Kamara in the back of the end zone, preserving MSU's 3-0 lead. Wiley's second interception came midway through the second quarter at the Irish 22 and set up MSU's first touchdown, a 1-yard run by Javon Ringer that gave the Spartans a 10-0 halftime lead. It marked the second time this season that Wiley had two interceptions (vs. California in the season opener).
He posted five tackles and matched his career high with four pass break-ups in the Spartans' 17-0 victory over Florida Atlantic. It marked Michigan State's first shutout since November 1999 (34-0 vs. Northwestern) and its first home shutout since September 1996 (47-0 vs. Eastern Michigan). The Spartans limited Florida Atlantic to nine first downs, 143 passing yards and 225 total yards. The Owls came into the game averaging 19.0 first downs, 306.5 passing yards and 423.0 total yards per game.
Wiley amassed 113 punt return yards on five returns (22.6 avg.) against Eastern Michigan, tying for the fourth-best single-game performance in Spartan history. Michigan State only managed 126 punt return yards all of last season on 31 attempts (4.1 avg.). Wiley's 78-yard scamper to open the fourth quarter was the 10th-longest in school history. The MSU single-game record is 137 punt return yards on six returns by Derrick Mason against Eastern Michigan in 1996. He also contributed four stops and a pass break-up against the Eagles.
Wiley recorded six tackles, two interceptions - returning one 31 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter - and a pass break-up in MSU's 38-31 loss at California in the 2008 season opener. With the two interception returns for 84 yards, Wiley moved into eighth place on MSU's all-time list with 161 career return yards.
JONES ENJOYING BANNER SOPHOMORE SEASON -
He contributed six stops in Michigan State's 16-13 victory over Iowa.
Jones matched his season high with nine tackles, all solo hits, and broke up a pass in MSU's 42-29 victory at Indiana in the Big Ten opener.
In MSU's 23-7 victory over Notre Dame, Jones recorded a season-high nine tackles, including one for a 1-yard loss. With nine stops against the Irish, he surpassed the 100-tackle career milestone. Jones totaled 21 production points against the Irish.
The Cincinnati, Ohio, native posted six tackles, including one for a 5-yard loss, in the Spartans' 17-0 victory over Florida Atlantic. It marked Michigan State's first shutout since November 1999 (34-0 vs. Northwestern) and its first home shutout since September 1996 (47-0 vs. Eastern Michigan). In the first half, the Owls managed just four first downs and 90 total yards.
Jones produced eight stops in the season opener at California, including two behind the line of scrimmage (6 yards).
SWENSON NAMED BIG TEN SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK -
Swenson was selected Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week after accounting for 10 points in Michigan State's 16-13 victory over Iowa as the Spartans improved to 5-1, 2-0 in the Big Ten. He was a perfect 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts, hitting from 29, 32 and 25 yards, and converted his only extra-point try. His 25-yarder with 9:32 left in the third quarter gave the Spartans a 16-3 lead and proved to be the game winner.
Swenson was selected as one of the Lou Groza Award's Top Three Stars of the Week after accounting for a career-high 16 points in MSU's 42-29 victory at Indiana in the Big Ten opener. He kicked a career-best four field goals, including three from 40-plus yards. Swenson converted field goals from 45, career-long 48, 45 and 32 yards. With MSU leading 36-29 after three quarters, Swenson iced the game with a pair of four-quarter field goals (45 and 32). He also converted all four extra-point attempts.
The 5-foot-8, 169-pound Swenson accounted for 11 points in the Spartans' 23-7 victory over Notre Dame. He matched his career high by converting all three field-goal attempts against the Irish, hitting from 45, 26 and 23 yards. Swenson also added two extra points.
He accounted for seven points in the 2008 season opener at California, converting 1-of-2 field-goal attempts and all four PATs. His 34-yard field goal with 4:38 left in the fourth quarter against the Golden Bears pulled the Spartans to within a touchdown at 31-24.
Swenson, who ranks eighth on MSU's all-time scoring list with 231 career points, is listed among 30 preseason candidates for the 2008 Lou Groza Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate placekicker by the FedEx Orange Bowl and sponsored by the Palm Beach County (Fla.) Sports Commission.
The Pompano Beach, Fla., native already ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in extra points (fifth with 105 made) and field goals (seventh with 42 made). Swenson also ranks among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision active career leaders in field goals made (tied for seventh), extra points made (tied for 12th) and scoring (16th).
The placekicker award is named in honor of former National Football League great Lou Groza, who earned the nickname "The Toe." Groza, who scored 1,608 points in 21 years with the Cleveland Browns (1946-59, 1961-67), was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974. The former Ohio State Buckeye made nine Pro Bowl appearances as a standout offensive tackle and placekicker.
A national panel of 300-plus voters, including college head coaches, sports writers, sportscasters, conference representatives, professional kickers and previous Lou Groza Award finalists, selects the recipient.
The selection committee will identify 20 semifinalists on Nov. 11, while three finalists will be named on Nov. 26. The winner will be announced during the ESPN College Football Awards Show on Dec. 11 in Orlando, Fla.
SPARTANS FACE ONE OF THE NCAA'S TOUGHEST SCHEDULES DOWN THE STRETCH -
Here's a look at teams facing the NCAA's toughest remaining schedules in 2008:
MAGIC NUMBER 24 -
Since 1990, Michigan State is 94-27-1 (.775) when it scores at least 24 points and 17-78-1 (.182) when it scores fewer than 24 points. During that 19-year period, the Spartans have compiled an overall record of 111-105-2 (.514).
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