No. 23 Spartans, No. 11 Wolverines To Battle for Paul Bunyan Trophy
Oct. 14, 2011
FIRST-AND-10 (what you need to know about the MSU-Michigan matchup) -
The last six games played in East Lansing have been decided by a total of 25 points (MSU has a 3-3 record during the six-game stretch in Spartan Stadium, with all those games decided by a touchdown or less including two in overtime.) Michigan's last win in Spartan Stadium came on Nov. 3, 2007, 28-24.
Since 1953, the winner of the Michigan State-Michigan game has been presented the Paul Bunyan Trophy. The four-foot wooden statue was donated by then-Governor G. Mennen Williams to mark Michigan State's acceptance into the Big Ten. Since '53, Michigan leads the series 34-22-2. The trophy depicts the legendary giant lumberjack astride an axe with feet planted on a map of the state with flags representing the schools.
Michigan State ranks second among opponents in all-time victories over Michigan. Only Ohio State (44) has posted more wins over the Wolverines than the Spartans (31).
Mark Dantonio is 3-1 against Michigan and is looking to join Charlie Bachman as the only other Michigan State coach to beat Michigan in four of their first five tries. Bachman won four of his first five games against U-M from 1933-37.
Michigan State's 2011 roster features 61 players from the state of Michigan, including 12 of the Spartans' 24 probable starters for Saturday's game against Michigan.
You don't have to look far to find the key stat in the Michigan State-Michigan series. The team with the most productive ground attack has won 38 of the last 41 games. During its current three-game winning streak, the Spartans have outrushed the Wolverines, 613-274 yards (by 339 yards).
Michigan State leads the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense (173.4 yards per game). The Spartans also rank among the NCAA FBS Top 10 in pass defense (second at 109.4 ypg.), pass efficiency defense (second with a 83.4 rating), rushing defense (third at 64.0 ypg.) and scoring defense (tied for third at 10.2 points per game). MSU leads the Big Ten in all of those stat categories.
Fifth-year senior Kirk Cousins is looking to become the first Spartan starting quarterback to win three straight games over Michigan. Last season, Cousins became the first Spartan starting QB to win back-to-back games against the Wolverines since Jimmy Raye (1966-67). He also has a chance Saturday to tie Jeff Smoker (2000-03) for the most wins (21) by a Spartan QB in school history. Cousins has compiled a 20-10 record (.667) in 30 career starts. His career winning percentage (tied for seventh) and career victories (tied for 10th) rank among all active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks.
Fifth-year senior wide receiver B.J. Cunningham is off to his most productive season as a Spartan. He ranks second in the Big Ten in both receptions (38; 7.6 per game) and receiving yards (116.4 per game), and 26 of his 38 receptions (68 percent) have resulted in either a touchdown or a first down. Cunningham has caught at least one pass in 39 consecutive regular-season games, which is the fifth-longest streak in the FBS.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS - Michigan State has earned a Top 25 national ranking in the USA TODAY Poll for 20 consecutive weeks, matching its longest streak since Sept. 19, 1999-Oct. 1, 2000.
Michigan State has been a strong first-half team, outscoring its opponents, 89-27. In the second quarter alone, MSU has outscored its opponents by 45 points, 58-13.
Michigan State's defense has allowed only five drives into the red zone this season, tying Boise State for the fewest trips permitted in the NCAA FBS.
The Spartan defense has allowed only nine gains of 20-plus yards from scrimmage - the second-fewest surrendered by an NCAA FBS team, trailing only Central Florida (4). In addition, MSU has given up only three gains of 30-plus yards - tied with LSU and Wisconsin for the third-lowest total permitted in the FBS.
Michigan State's defense has not allowed a rushing touchdown in its last nine quarters. The Spartans have surrendered only two rushing TDs this season - tied for the second-fewest yielded in the NCAA FBS.
Michigan State's starting linebackers - Max Bullough (33), Chris Norman (25) and Denicos Allen (25) - have combined for 83 tackles, including 13.0 for losses and 6.0 sacks. Allen leads the team and ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 7.5 tackles for loss (32 yards).
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 and Western Kentucky's Darrius Brooks as the only active players in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision that have accomplished that feat.
Sophomore Nick Hill has emerged as one of the Big Ten's most dangerous kickoff returners. Hill currently ranks third in the Big Ten and 18th (tied) in the NCAA FBS in kickoff returns, averaging 26.9 yards per runback. He returned four kickoffs for 129 yards (32.3 avg.) at Notre Dame, including a career-long 42-yard return in the second quarter.
Junior Dan Conroy's .840 career field-goal percentage (made 21-of-25 attempts) ranks No. 8 among all active NCAA FBS kickers.
MSU/MICHIGAN COACHING CONNECTIONS -
Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and Michigan offensive line coach Darrell Funk coached two seasons together at Rhode Island (1998-99) and one season at Northern Illinois (2002). Narduzzi was Rhode Island's defensive coordinator from 1998-99, and Funk succeeded him as defensive coordinator of the Rams in 2000-01 following Narduzzi's departure to NIU. When Funk came to Northern Illinois as the tight ends coach in 2002, Narduzzi was the linebackers coach. In addition, Michigan State offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Dan Roushar and Funk also coached one season together at Northern Illinois in 2002. Roushar was the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach that season for the Huskies.
Michigan associate athletic director for football Mike Vollmar spent 12 years as assistant AD/director of football operations at Michigan State (1996-2007).
Michigan director of strength and conditioning Aaron Wellman spent three years as assistant strength and conditioning coach at Michigan State (2001-03) under Ken Mannie.
BATTLE FOR IN-STATE BRAGGING RIGHTS -
RENALDO HILL NAMED HONORARY CAPTAIN -
A third-team All-America selection by the Football News as a senior in 2000, Hill anchored a Spartan secondary that led the Big Ten and ranked seventh nationally in pass defense, allowing only 164.1 yards per game. He finished fourth on the team in tackles with 71 (55 solos, 16 assists), including five for losses (10 yards). The 5-foot-11, 178-pound Detroit native also ranked second on the team in interceptions (three) and third in pass break-ups (11).
A three-year starter from 1998-2000, Hill recorded 182 career tackles (135 solos, 47 assists), nine interceptions and 36 pass break-ups.
Following his senior season, he was selected to play in the 2001 East-West Shrine Game in San Francisco, Calif. Hill was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the seventh round (No. 202 overall) of the 2001 National Football League Draft. He spent 10 years in the NFL, including four seasons in Arizona (2001-04), one in Oakland (2005), three in Miami (2006-08) and two more in Denver (2008-09). Hill started 114 of 141 career games and totaled 596 tackles, 54 passes defended and 19 interceptions.
GROUND GAME KEY FACTOR IN THIS SERIES -
The only exceptions to that trend came in 2007 when Chad Henne threw for 221 yards and four scores, including two in the fourth quarter, as Michigan rallied from a 24-14 fourth-quarter deficit for a 28-24 victory; on Oct. 30, 2004, when Henne passed for 273 yards and four TDs as the Wolverines rallied from a 27-10 fourth-quarter deficit for a 45-37 triple-overtime win; and on Nov. 4, 1995, when Tony Banks threw for 318 yards, including a 25-yard scoring strike to Nigea Carter with 1:24 left in the fourth quarter that gave the Spartans a 28-25 victory over the seventh-ranked Wolverines.
UPSET SPECIALS -
With consecutive wins over No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 18 Michigan in 2010, Michigan State defeated ranked teams on back-to-back Saturdays for the first time since 1974 (Nov. 2 vs. No. 20 Wisconsin; Nov. 9 vs. No. 1 Ohio State). It also marked the first time MSU defeated ranked teams in back-to-back games since the 1999 season (Nov. 20 vs. No. 13 Penn State and Jan. 1, 2000, vs. No. 10 Florida).
Sixteen of those 20 wins over ranked teams have come while Michigan State was unranked or ranked below its opponent. Nine of the last 20 games against AP Top 25 teams have been decided by nine points or less.
Under head coach Mark Dantonio, Michigan State has defeated five ranked opponents: No. 18 (AP)/No. 17 (USA TODAY) Michigan and No. 11 (AP)/No. 9 (USA TODAY) Wisconsin 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 8-8 (.500) against teams ranked in the AP Top 10, including a 5-3 record (.625) in games played in Spartan Stadium. (Note: For a complete list of all-time results against ranked opponents, please refer to pages 132-134 in the 2011 MSU Football Media Guide.)
SPARTANS OUTFITTED IN NIKE PRO COMBAT UNIFORMS -
The uniform's overall innovation starts at the baselayer, as strategically placed seams, pads and cooling zones help minimize distraction and optimize protective coverage. It features customizable protection, incorporating a thin, incredibly strong carbon fiber plate. This symbolically mirrors that of the Spartan shield, which is emblazoned on the right of the baselayer. The Nike Pro Combat Deflex padding, combined with strategically placed cooling zones helps wick away sweat to keep competitors cool, while the Flywire-threaded collar allows for more breathability.
Echoing the cry of King Leonidas, the back of the collar is inscribed with the words "Molon Labe," the Spartans' defiant challenge to the competition to "come and take them!" Gloves complete the traditional Spartan headdress look.
COUSINS ESTABLISHES HIMSELF AS ONE OF NATION'S TOP QUARTERBACKS -
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Cousins ranks among the Big Ten leaders in passing yards (third at 239.4 yards per game), passing efficiency (fourth with a 143.2 rating) and total offense (sixth at 230.8 ypg.). He has completed 101-of-149 throws (.678) for 1,197 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions.
Cousins recorded his 19th career 200-yard passing game in MSU's 10-7 victory at Ohio State, completing 20-of-32 passes for 250 yards, 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 B.J. 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.
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 TD strike to Cunningham late in the third quarter that gave MSU a 21-6 lead. Cousins completed his first six pass attempts for 114 yards.
The Holland, Mich., native currently ranks first in MSU history in completion percentage (.649; 557-of-858) and passing efficiency (146.0). 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 pass completions (second with 557), passing yards (second with 7,012 yards), TD passes (second with 47), 200-yard passing games (second with 19), pass attempts (third with 858) and total offense (third with 6,881 yards), and. In addition, Cousins ranks among all active NCAA FBS leaders in completion percentage (13th), passing efficiency (12th), passing yards (16th), total offense (16th) and TD passes (17th).
CUNNINGHAM OPENS 2011 SEASON WITH A BANG -
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Cunningham already ranks as Michigan State's all-time leader in receptions with 177. He also is listed among the school's career leaders in receiving yards (third with 2,362 yards) and TD receptions (tied for seventh with 15). In addition, Cunningham ranks among all active NCAA FBS leaders in receptions (13th) and receiving yards (14th).
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. Cunningham scored on a 33-yard strike from Kirk Cousins to give MSU a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. It marked his fifth career 100-yard receiving game and his third of the season. 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.
RUSH SELECTED BIG TEN FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK -
Michigan State's defense lost its bid for a shutout with just 10 seconds remaining, as the Spartans ended a seven-game losing streak against the Buckeyes and recorded their first win in Columbus since 1998.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Rush sacked Ohio State's Joe Bauserman for a 7-yard loss on the second play of the Buckeyes' final drive in the fourth quarter. The Spartans produced 13 tackles for losses, including nine sacks, while limiting the Buckeyes to 35 rushing yards and 143 total yards. The nine sacks tied MSU's single-game record (fourth time; last vs. Wisconsin in 1989).
The red-shirt freshman from Cincinnati, Ohio, has started all five games this season. Rush has posted 18 tackles, with 3.5 resulting in losses (19 yards), and leads the team with six quarterback hurries.
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