First-Place Spartans Ready for Road Test at Illinois
Oct. 24, 2013
Saturday's game marks the 45th meeting between Michigan State and Illinois. The Spartans lead the all-time series 25-17-2, including a 12-9-1 record in games played in Champaign, Ill. Michigan State has won 11 of the last 12 meetings in the series, including a 26-6 victory in the last meeting on Oct. 16, 2010 in Spartan Stadium. MSU head coach Mark Dantonio is 2-0 against Illinois.
Through seven games, Michigan State's defense ranks No. 1 in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense (228.0 yards per game), rushing defense (59.1 ypg.), pass efficiency defense (88.41 rating) and first downs defense (13.4 pg.). The Spartans also rank among the national leaders in opponent third-down conversions (third at 27 percent; 30-for-110), scoring defense (fourth at 13.6 ppg.) and passing defense (fourth at 168.9 ypg.). Michigan State is the only school in the FBS to rank in the top five nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and passing defense. The Spartans also lead the Big Ten in seven defensive categories (total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense, opponent third-down conversions, first downs defense). Michigan State and Alabama are the only two schools to rank in the top 15 nationally in total defense, scoring defense, pass defense and rushing defense during both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. In addition, Michigan State's defense has allowed just 3.59 yards per play, which ranks No. 1 in the FBS.
Michigan State's 6-1 start equals its second-best seven-game start under head coach Mark Dantonio. The Spartans won their first seven games in 2010 en route to an 8-0 start, and were also 6-1 to begin the 2008 and 2011 seasons. The Spartans have started 6-1 in four of the past six seasons; prior to Dantonio's tenure, Michigan State had started 6-1 just two times since 1967 (1999, 2003). In addition, Michigan State is off to a 3-0 start in Big Ten play for the fourth time in seven seasons under Dantonio (2008: started 3-0; 2010: opened 4-0; and 2011: started 3-0).
With its 14-0 victory over Purdue, Michigan State became bowl eligible for a school-record seventh consecutive season.
Senior linebacker Max Bullough was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after recording a season-high 10 tackles in Michigan State's 14-0 win over Purdue, with two resulting in losses including a 7-yard sack that produced a fumble that senior Denicos Allen recovered and returned 45 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Bullough reached double-figure tackles for the seventh time in his career. Bullough ranks third on the team with 42 tackles (6.0 avg.), including 6.5 for losses (17 yards), which is tied for the team lead and ranks tied for eighth in the Big Ten. He also ranks second on the team with seven quarterback hurries.
The Spartans have held all seven of their 2013 opponents below 100 yards rushing, as Purdue managed 66 yards on 34 carries (1.9 avg.). In 86 games under Mark Dantonio, MSU has held its opponents under 100 yards rushing 42 times (49 percent). Michigan State is the only team in the FBS this season that hasn't allowed a team to rush for 100 yards. In addition, MSU is one of six schools in the FBS in 2013 (Syracuse, Wisconsin, Memphis, Ohio State, East Carolina) that hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher.
Junior running back Jeremy Langford is averaging 94.3 yards per game rushing during Big Ten play, which ranks fourth best in the conference. Overall, Langford ranks seventh in the league in rushing (78.7 ypg.), and leads the team in rushing yards (551), carries (119), rushing touchdowns (7) and scoring (48 points). Langford has recorded single-game career highs in rushing back-to-back weeks. He was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after recording his first career 100-yard rushing game in Michigan State's 42-28 victory over Indiana and setting personal bests for carries (23), rushing yards (109) and rushing touchdowns (3). He scored on runs of 5, 2 and career-long 32 yards. Langford accounted for a career-best four TDs, including his first career TD reception on an 11-yard screen pass from Connor Cook early in the second quarter. Langford followed that effort with 131 rushing yards on 24 carries in the win over Purdue.
In seven games this season, the Spartans have forced their opponents to go three-and-out on 43 of 92 possessions (47 percent; 6.1 per game), which ranks tied for third in the nation. The Spartans are forcing an average of 6.14 three-and-outs per game, which ranks sixth in the FBS. [Three-and-out: either holding opponent without a first down within its first three plays on a new series or forcing a turnover in the first three plays.]
After not scoring any defensive touchdowns in 2012, the Spartans have already recorded five this season, which is the most by any team in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in 2013 (Kurtis Drummond 21-yard interception vs. Western Michigan; Shilique Calhoun 16-yard fumble recovery vs. WMU; Calhoun 4-yard fumble recovery vs. South Florida; Calhoun 56-yard interception vs. USF; Denicos Allen 45-yard fumble recovery vs. Purdue). Michigan State has scored 19 defensive touchdowns under Dantonio, including five each in 2007, 2011 and this season. Michigan State scored four defensive touchdowns in the first two games of the season, marking a school record (single-game records dating back to 1946). The five defensive touchdowns are tied for the second most in a single season in school history (school-record six in 1999; five in 2007 and 2011).
The Spartans have won 35 of their last 46 games (.761), dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season. The 35 wins are tied for the most in the Big Ten and tied for 11th most among NCAA FBS teams during that same time period. In addition, MSU has recorded 30 Big Ten victories since 2008, the most of any team in the conference (Note: Ohio State has won 35 games, but had to vacate seven victories following the 2010 season.). The Spartans produced back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2010-11 for the first time in program history, claimed a share of the Big Ten Championship in 2010, and won the inaugural Big Ten Legends Divisions title in 2011.
STAT LEADERS -
Illinois (after six games):
THE LAST MEETING -
The Spartans are 7-0 for the first time since 1966, when they won their first nine games before famously tying Notre Dame 10-10.
The Spartans had trouble running the ball the first two quarters against Illinois, but Cousins came out sharp in the third and they took control of the game. Cousins' touchdown pass over the middle made it 13-6, and the defense kept Illinois at bay.
Michigan State wasted no time tying the game in the third quarter. After an interception gave the Spartans the ball at the Illinois 16, Dan Conroy kicked his second of four field goals.
Cousins put Michigan State ahead to stay with his long touchdown pass. Illinois answered with a 39-yard pass to A.J. Jenkins, but Darqueze Dennard forced a fumble at the end of the play and recovered the ball.
Larry Caper's 15-yard touchdown run made it 26-6 with 2:35 remaining in the fourth, putting the finishing touches on an emphatic victory over an Illinois team that played Ohio State tough and routed Penn State.
THE LAST MEETING IN MEMORIAL STADIUM -
Nichol, a sophomore, started in place of Kirk Cousins, who entered the game late. Nichol was 13-for-25 with an interception.
Illinois had its own first-time starter at quarterback, junior Eddie McGee. Illinois coach Ron Zook made McGee the starter this week over senior Juice Williams to try to spark the sputtering Illini.
But McGee's run lasted just over 32 minutes. Zook pulled him early in the third quarter after watching him complete two of his eight passes for 31 yards. Williams was 7-for-17 for 109 yards and a touchdown in relief.
The Spartans turned the ball over twice and killed one of their drives with back-to-back personal foul penalties that wiped out big gains in Illinois territory. But they were good enough to spoil Illinois' Homecoming with a 17-0 lead by halftime that could have been worse.
The Spartans drove 60 yards on their opening possession and were up 7-0 after Winston's 2-yard touchdown run.
They had 14 points on the scoreboard before Illinois had a first down. They held the ball for 22 of the game's first 30 minutes, a period during which Michigan State piled up 281 yards of offense - 149 on the ground - to the Illini's 60.
The Illini struggled to move the ball with McGee at quarterback, though he was saddled with bad field position. Before starting a drive late in the third quarter at the Michigan State 30 after an interception by Tavon Wilson, the Illini had opened drives from their own 2, 9, 13, 20 (twice) and 24-yard lines.
Blair White, Nichol's favorite target in the game, had four catches for 50 yards. But Nichol spread the ball around, hitting seven different receivers.
MSU/ILLINOIS COACHING CONNECTIONS -
Co-offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Jim Bollman and Illinois head coach Tim Beckman coached together at Ohio State for two seasons under former OSU coach Jim Tressel. Bollman was the offensive coordinator at Ohio State from 2001-11, while Beckman was the cornerbacks coach at OSU in 2005-06.
Michigan State quarterbacks coach Brad Salem's brother, Tim, is in his second season as running backs coach/special teams coordinator at Illinois. Tim Salem was also the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Purdue when MSU wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel was a four-year letterwinner (1991-94) for the Boilermakers.
SPARTAN DEFENSE RANKS NO. 1 IN THE FBS -
Michigan State is the only school in the FBS to rank in the top five nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and passing defense.
The Spartans also lead the Big Ten in seven defensive categories (total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense, opponent third-down conversions, first downs defense).
Michigan State's defense has allowed just 3.59 yards per play, which ranks No. 1 in the FBS. In addition, MSU has given up only 55 plays of 10-plus yards, including only nine rushes of 10-plus yards, both of which rank No. 1 in the FBS.
The Spartans have held all seven of their 2013 opponents below 100 yards rushing, as Purdue managed 66 yards on 34 carries (1.9 avg.). In 86 games under Mark Dantonio, MSU has held its opponents under 100 yards rushing 42 times (49 percent). In addition, MSU is one of six schools in the FBS this season (Syracuse, Wisconsin, Memphis, Ohio State, East Carolina) that hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher.
Michigan State has led the Big Ten in total defense and rushing defense the past two seasons.
Michigan State returned seven starters and 11 players with starting experience from the Big Ten's top-ranked defense in 2012. The Spartan defense ranked among the NCAA FBS Top 10 in eight categories: touchdowns allowed (second with 16), pass efficiency defense (third at 98.8), total defense (fourth at 274.4 ypg.), pass break-ups (tied for eighth at 4.8 pg.), rushing defense (eighth at 98.6 ypg.), third-down defense (eighth at .305), pass defense (ninth at 175.8 ypg.) and scoring defense (ninth at 16.3 ppg.). In addition, MSU also led the Big Ten in six defensive categories (touchdowns allowed, total defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense, rushing defense and third-down defense).
The Spartans are one of just five NCAA FBS schools, along with Alabama, Florida State, Florida and LSU, to rank among the Top 10 nationally in total defense the past two seasons. Michigan State ranked fourth in total defense in 2012 (274.4 ypg.) and sixth in 2011 (277.4 ypg).
MSU has also ranked in the NCAA FBS Top 10 the past two seasons in rushing defense (eighth in 2012 at 98.6 yppg.; ninth in 2011 at 100.5 ypg.) and scoring defense (ninth in 2012 at 16.3 ppg.; 10th in 2011 at 18.4 ppg). Michigan State, Alabama and Florida State are the only schools in the nation to rank among the NCAA FBS Top 10 in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense the past two seasons.
In addition, MSU has ranked among the NCAA FBS Top 15 in pass defense in 2011 (11th at 176.9 ypg.) and 2012 (ninth at 175.8 ypg.). Michigan State and Alabama are the only two programs in the country to rank in the NCAA FBS Top 15 the past two seasons in total defense, rushing defense, passing defense and scoring defense.
The Spartans returned five players who received All-Big Ten recognition on defense in 2012, including first-team selections Max Bullough (LB) and Darqueze Dennard (CB). Senior linebacker Denicos Allen, senior strong safety Isaiah Lewis and junior defensive end Marcus Rush earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades from the coaches and media.
Senior linebacker Max Bullough has led the Spartans in tackles the previous two seasons (89 in 2011; career-high 111 in 2012). Bullough was re-elected a team captain and is just the third Spartan to be named a captain at least twice in the Dantonio era (Greg Jones, 2009-10; Kirk Cousins, 2009-11). Bullough is featured on preseason watch lists for the Bednarik (defensive player of the year), Butkus (nation's best linebacker) and Lombardi (nation's best lineman) Awards, and also was named to the Nagurski Trophy (defensive player of the year), Lott IMPACT Trophy and College Football Performance Awards Linebacker Trophy Watch Lists. He was a preseason All-America selection by Phil Steele's College Football Preview (second team) and Athlon Sports (third team).
In 2012, the Spartans surrendered 16 offensive touchdowns (six rushing, 10 passing) - the second-fewest allowed in the NCAA FBS. Only Notre Dame (15) permitted fewer TDs. Through seven games in 2013, the Spartans have allowed 12 touchdowns (four rushing, eight passing), tied for fourth fewest in the FBS. Since the beginning of 2011, Michigan State has held opponents under 100 rushing yards in 22 of 34 games (seven in 2011; eight in 2012; seven in 2013). In addition, MSU has held 10 opponents under 50 yards rushing (three times in 2011; five in 2012; two in 2013) since 2011.
Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Michigan State's defense has held 12 opponents to less than 10 points.
Michigan State has forced at least one turnover in 68 of 86 games over the last seven seasons (79 percent of the games played since 2007), including six games this season.
SPARTANS LEAD FBS IN DEFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS -
Michigan State has scored 19 defensive touchdowns under Dantonio, including five each in 2007, 2011 and this season. Michigan State scored four defensive touchdowns in the first two games of the season, marking a school record (single-game records dating back to 1946). The five defensive touchdowns are tied for the second most in a single season in school history (school-record six in 1999; five in 2007 and 2011).
INSIDE THE NUMBERS -
Michigan State's offensive line has only allowed four sacks, which ranks second fewest in the Big Ten and tied for fourth fewest in the FBS.
Michigan State is tied for first in the Big Ten, along with Ohio State, in turnover margin (+0.5, 0.71 per game). The Spartans have forced a total of 13 turnovers (five fumbles, eight interceptions), including five for touchdowns (three fumble recoveries, two interception returns).
The Spartans have tallied 12 plays of 20 yards or more on offense (four rushing, eight passing) in their three league games, compared to just 11 (five rushing, six passing) during their four non-conference games.
Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 41-8 (.837) when leading in time of possession, including a 28-5 record (.848) since 2010. The Spartans lead the Big Ten and rank fourth in the NCAA FBS in time of possession (34:11 per game) in 2013.
Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 46-11 (.807) when outrushing its opponent, including a 30-4 record (.882) since 2010. The Spartans are 19-3 (.864) in games when gaining 200 or more yards under Dantonio.
Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State has produced a 36-11 record (.766) in home games, including a 15-game winning streak (7-0 in 2010, 7-0 in 2011, won first game in 2012).
Michigan State lost five Big Ten games in 2012 by a combined total of 13 points, including one in double overtime (Iowa) and two within the last 10 seconds of regulation (Michigan, Nebraska). During one stretch, MSU had seven-straight games decided by four points or fewer, the longest such streak in school history and the longest by an FBS team since at least 1996.
Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Michigan State is 13-7 (.650) in games decided by 10 points or less, including a 4-5 record in 2012. The losses have come against Wisconsin in the 2011 Big Ten Championship Game (42-39), Ohio State (17-16), Iowa (19-16 in 2OT), Michigan (12-10), Nebraska (28-24) and Northwestern (23-20) in 2012, and Notre Dame (17-13) in 2013. Twelve of MSU's last 21 games have been decided by 10 points or less (MSU record: 5-7).
SCOUTING ILLINOIS -
The Fighting Illini feature a prolific passing attack that ranks second in the Big Ten and 24th in the FBS, averaging 287.7 yards per game. Illlinois also ranks third in the Big Ten and 14th in the FBS in passing efficiency (157.16 rating).
Illinois ranks tied for 10th and 101st in the FBS in turnover margin (-0.7 per game).
Senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase ranks among the Big Ten leaders in passing (second with 257.7 ypg.), total offense (second with 267.7 ypg.) and passing efficiency (fourth with 158.0 rating). He has completed 66 percent of his passes (115-of-174) for 12 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Sophomore Josh Ferguson leads the team in rushing (56 carries for 335 yards; 55.8 ypg.) and receiving (23 catches for 346 yards; 57.7 ypg.).
Senior linebacker Jonathan Brown leads the Big Ten in tackles (66 total; 11.0 avg.) and ranks second in tackles for loss with 7.5 for 19 yards, including two sacks (10 yards).
NOTES FROM THE PURDUE GAME -
Michigan State recorded its first shutout since 2011 (44-0 over Florida Atlantic) and its first against a Big Ten opponent since 1999 (34-0 at Northwestern). It marked MSU's third shutout under Mark Dantonio (2008: 17-0 over Florida Atlantic; 2011: 44-0 over Florida Atlantic).
Michigan State limited Purdue to three first downs, 7 rushing yards (10 carries) and 113 total yards in the second half.
Michigan State's defense matched its season highs in tackles for loss (9 for 37 yards) and sacks (5 for 27). The Spartans also record nine tackles (48) and five sacks (36) in the season opener against Western Michigan.
The 14 points are the fewest in a Spartan win since MSU defeated Ohio State 10-7 in 2011.
Junior Jeremy Langford recorded his second-straight 100-yard rushing game, setting personal bests for carries (24) and rushing yards (131) against Purdue.
Junior wide receiver Tony Lippett threw his first career touchdown pass, a 5-yard toss to junior tight end Andrew Gleichert in the fourth quarter. It also marked Gleichert's first career TD reception. Lippett finished with a team-high five catches for 49 yards.
Senior linebacker Max Bullough recorded a season-high 10 tackles against Purdue, with two resulting in losses including a 7-yard sack that produced a fumble that senior Denicos Allen recovered and returned 45 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Bullough reached double-figure tackles for the seventh time in his career.
Junior free safety Kurtis Drummond matched his season high with nine tackles against Purdue. Drummond also posted nine stops against South Florida.
Fifth-year senior linebacker Denicos Allen registered eight tackles against Purdue and scored his first career touchdown, returning a fumble 45 yards for a score in the second quarter. Allen's fumble return marked the fifth defensive TD recorded by the Spartans this season, tying the second-best single-season total in school history (also produced five defensive TDs in 2007 and 2011). Overall, MSU has scored 19 defensive TDs since Mark Dantonio became head coach prior to the 2007 season.
Senior strong safety Isaiah Lewis recorded his first interception of the season and seventh of his career.
COOK GROWS IN CONFIDENCE AS STARTING QB -
The 6-foot-4, 218-pound Cook recorded his third career 200-yard passing game, completing 22-of-31 throws for 235 yards, two TDs and an interception in Michigan State's 42-28 Homecoming victory over Indiana. He threw TD passes of 11 yards to Jeremy Langford and 34 yards to Bennie Fowler in the second quarter. He completed passes to 11 different receivers.
Cook set career highs for pass completions (25), pass attempts (44) and passing yards (277) in MSU's 26-14 win at Iowa in his Big Ten debut. His 277 passing yards mark the second-highest single-game total by a Spartan quarterback against Iowa (Brian Hoyer threw for 308 yards at Iowa in 2007). Cook completed scoring strikes of 46 yards to Macgarrett Kings Jr. and 37 yards to Fowler. His 37-yard TD toss to Fowler gave MSU the lead for good at 17-14 early in the third quarter. He completed passes to nine different receivers. Cook also rushed six times for 21 yards to account for a career-best 298 total yards. He attempted 119 passes before throwing his first interception of the 2013 season (fourth quarter at Iowa).
In his first career road start at No. 22 Notre Dame, he hit 16-of-32 passes for 135 yards, including a 12-yard TD toss to Kings midway through the second quarter.
The Hinckley, Ohio, native recorded his first career 200-yard passing game in MSU's 55-17 victory over Youngstown State, completing 15-of-22 passes for 202 yards and a career-best four TDs. Cook became the first Spartan QB to throw four TD passes in a game since Brian Hoyer against Penn State in 2007. He also became the first MSU QB to throw four TD passes in a half since Drew Stanton had four scoring tosses in the first half at Illinois in 2005. Cook threw TD passes of 13 yards to Andre Sims Jr., 12 to Trevon Pendleton, 24 to Kings and 17 to Fowler. He finished with 227 total yards (202 passing and 25 rushing).
PLAYMAKERS BEGIN TO EMERGE IN THE PASSING GAME -
The 5-foot-10, 186-pound Kings matched his career high with five receptions for 28 yards in Michigan State's 42-28 Homecoming win over Indiana. It marked the third-straight game that Kings had five catches (five for 37 yards and a TD at Notre Dame; and five for 94 yards and a score at Iowa).
In MSU's 26-14 victory at Iowa, Kings tied his career high with five receptions for a career-best 94 yards, including a 46-yard TD grab from Connor Cook in the second quarter. It marked both a career-long reception for Kings as well as the longest offensive play from scrimmage for the Spartans this season. He also returned three punts for 53 yards, including a 30-yard return in the third quarter that set up Michael Geiger's 35-yard field goal. Kings accounted for a career-best 147 all-purpose yards against the Hawkeyes.
Fifth-year senior Bennie Fowler is tied for the team lead with three TD catches and ranks second on the team in receptions (18) and receiving yards (238). Eleven of his 18 receptions (61 percent) have resulted in either a TD or a first down. His four 20-yard receptions lead the team. Over his last four games, Fowler has 15 catches for 204 yards and three TDs. He sat out the Purdue game with a hamstring injury.
On a third-and-6 play midway through the second quarter against Indiana, he scored on a 34-yard crossing route from Cook. It marked the second-straight game that Fowler recorded a TD reception of over 30 yards.
The 6-1, 212-pound Fowler had a career-high nine receptions for 92 yards at Iowa, including a 37-yard TD reception from Cook in the third quarter that gave the Spartans the lead for good at 17-14.
Junior Tony Lippett ranks third on the team in receptions (17) and receiving yards (183). Thirteen of his 17 receptions (76 percent) have resulted in a first down, including a team-best eight third-down grabs. Over his last three games, Lippett has 13 catches for 142 yards.
The 6-3, 191-pound Lippett finished with a team-high five catches for 49 yards against Purdue. He also threw his first career TD pass, a 5-yard toss to junior tight end Andrew Gleichert in the fourth quarter.
Lippett set career highs for receptions (6) and receiving yards (64) against Indiana.
Langford, a 6-foot, 206-pound junior, leads the team in rushing attempts (119), rushing yards (551), rushing TDs (7) and scoring (48 points). In conference games, he ranks fourth in the Big Ten in rushing (94.3 yards per game) and seventh in total touchdowns (tied at 8.0 points per game). Overall, Langford ranks among the Big Ten leaders in rushing (seventh at 78.7 ypg.) and rushing TDs (tied for eighth with 7). Thirty-four of his 119 carries (29 percent) have resulted in either a TD or a first down.
He recorded his second-straight 100-yard rushing game, setting personal bests for carries (24) and rushing yards (131) in Michigan State's 14-0 victory over Purdue.
Langford earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors after posting his first career 100-yard rushing game in MSU's 42-28 Homecoming victory over Indiana, with 23 carries for 109 yards and a personal-best three rushing touchdowns. He scored on runs of 5, 2 and career-long 32 yards. Langford accounted for a career-best four TDs, including his first career TD reception on an 11-yard screen pass from Connor Cook early in the second quarter.
He gained 68 yards on 14 attempts in MSU's 17-13 loss at No. 22 Notre Dame.
Langford rushed 15 times for 68 yards and two scores in MSU's 55-17 victory over Youngstown State. He scored on runs of 3 and 2 yards against the Penguins.
In his first career start at tailback, Langford picked up 94 yards on 20 carries in MSU's 26-13 season-opening win over Western Michigan. Langford also scored his first career offensive touchdown on a 2-yard run late in the first half against the Broncos.
Hill, a 5-8, 198-pound junior, ranks second on the team in carries (42) and rushing yards (219). Twelve of his 42 carries (29 percent) have resulted in either a TD or a first down.
He rushed nine times for a career-high 83 yards against Youngstown State, including a career-long 35-yard TD run early in the third quarter. Hill produced 63 yards on nine carries against South Florida.
Williams, a 6-1, 220-pound true freshman, ranks third on the team in rushing with 132 yards on 24 carries (5.5 avg.).
Williams set season highs for carries (12) and rushing yards (92) against Indiana. His season-long 37-yard run set up MSU's final touchdown early in the fourth quarter. In his collegiate debut at Iowa, Williams rushed for 32 yards on nine carries (3.6 avg.), including an 11-yard gain. All of his carries came in the second half against the Hawkeyes.
DENNARD ESTABLISHES HIMSELF AS ONE OF NATION'S TOP CORNERS -
He produced seven tackles in Michigan State's 14-0 victory over Purdue, including a half tackle for loss (1 yard). MSU's defense recorded its first shutout since 2011 (44-0 over Florida Atlantic) and its first against a Big Ten opponent since 1999 (34-0 at Northwestern).
He totaled five tackles, a quarterback hurry and a pass break-up in MSU's 42-28 Homecoming win over Indiana, as as the Spartans limited IU to season lows in passing offense (259 yards) and total offense (351). The Hoosiers entered the game ranked ninth in the nation in total offense (535.0 ypg.) and 10th in passing offense (346.0 ypg).
Dennard was selected Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after recording career highs in tackles (8) and interceptions (2) in MSU's 26-14 win at Iowa. The Spartan defense limited the Hawkeyes to 264 total yards - 183 yards below their season average. In addition, MSU held Iowa to 23 yards rushing (1.4 yards per carry) - 221 yards below its season average. Michigan State shut out the Hawkeyes in the second half, as Iowa managed just six first downs, 6 rushing yards and 104 total yards in the final two quarters. Dennard's second interception at the 5:25 mark in the fourth quarter helped ice the game, and it marked the third multi-interception game of his career (2012 Outback Bowl vs. Georgia, 2012 vs. Nebraska).
The Dry Branch, Ga., native was credited with five tackles, including a half tackle for loss (2 yards), a QB hurry and two pass break-ups in MSU's 21-6 victory over South Florida. In the season opener, Dennard matched his career-high with three pass break-ups in MSU's 26-13 win over Western Michigan.
ALLEN ANCHORS NATION'S TOP DEFENSIVE UNIT -
Allen registered eight tackles and scored his first career touchdown, returning a fumble 45 yards for a score in the second quarter, in Michigan State's 14-0 victory over Purdue. MSU's defense recorded its first shutout since 2011 (44-0 over Florida Atlantic) and its first against a Big Ten opponent since 1999 (34-0 at Northwestern). The Spartans limited Purdue to three first downs, 7 rushing yards (10 carries) and 113 total yards in the second half.
He recorded a team-high eight tackles, including two for losses (5 yards), in MSU's 42-28 Homecoming victory over Indiana. Allen also was credited with two quarterback hurries, as the Spartans limited IU to season lows in passing offense (259 yards) and total offense (351). The Hoosiers entered the game ranked ninth in the nation in total offense (535.0 ypg.) and 10th in passing offense (346.0 ypg).
Allen recorded a season-high nine tackles including a half tackle for loss (2 yards), in a 17-3 loss at No. 22 Notre Dame. MSU limited the Irish to 14 first downs, 82 rushing yards on 32 attempts (2.6 avg.) and 224 total yards. Notre Dame's 224 total yards marked the lowest figure in Brian Kelly's tenure as the Irish head coach.
He tallied eight stops, including a 2-yard sack, and two QB hurries in MSU's 21-6 win over South Florida. The Spartan defense allowed 12 first downs, 89 rushing yards, 66 passing yards and 155 total yards against USF, as the Bulls went one-of-13 (.077) on third-down conversions.
Allen produced five tackles, including a 6-yard sack, in MSU's 26-13 victory over Western Michigan in the season opener. The Spartan defense limited WMU to 11 rushing yards on 27 carries (0.4 avg.).
The Hamilton, Ohio, native ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in tackles for loss (tied for sixth with 35) and sacks (seventh with 16). Allen has started 33 consecutive games at linebacker - the second-longest active streak on the team.
CALHOUN EMERGES AS PLAYMAKER ON D-LINE -
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Calhoun contributed two tackles, including a 3-yard sack, two QB hurries and three QB hits in Michigan State's 14-0 win over Purdue. MSU's defense recorded its first shutout since 2011 (44-0 over Florida Atlantic) and its first against a Big Ten opponent since 1999 (34-0 at Northwestern). The Spartans limited Purdue to three first downs, 7 rushing yards (10 carries) and 113 total yards in the second half.
He was credited with three tackles, including a half tackle for loss, four QB hurries and a career-best six QB hits in MSU's 26-14 victory at Iowa.
Calhoun collected several weekly honors after scoring two touchdowns and recording two tackles for loss, including a 9-yard sack, in MSU's 21-6 win over South Florida on Sept. 7 at Spartan Stadium. He totaled 43.5 production points against the Bulls.
Calhoun was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week, Chuck Bednarik Award National Defensive Player of the Week, FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week, CBSSports.com National Defensive Player of the Week and College Football Performance Awards National Defensive Performer of the Week. He also was selected CFPA National Defensive Lineman of the Week and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. In additon, Calhoun was listed on the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll for Week 2.
Calhoun scored two touchdowns against USF, returning a fumble 4 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and his first career interception 56 yards for another score in the third quarter. He was credited with three solo tackles against the Bulls, with two resulting in losses (12 yards) including a 9-yard sack, and two quarterback hurries. Michigan State's defense allowed 12 first downs, 89 rushing yards (2.5 yards per carry), 66 passing yards and 155 total yards against South Florida.
In seven games, Calhoun has scored three defensive TDs, as he also returned a fumble 16 yards against Western Michigan. His three defensive TDs tie a modern-day Michigan State single-season record (games dating back to 1946), and he became the first Spartan to accomplish the feat in the first two games of the season. Calhoun is the first Spartan defensive player to score three TDs in one season since linebacker T.J. Turner accounted for three in 12 games in 1999 (88-yard interception return at Purdue; 26-yard fumble return at Northwestern; and 24-yard fumble return vs. Florida in 2000 Florida Citrus Bowl).
Calhoun is the only defensive player in the Football Bowl Subdivision this season to score three touchdowns in the first seven weeks of the season.
Mark Dantonio: PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS -
Michigan State is 16-9 (.640) in Big Ten road games under Dantonio, including a 10-3 record (.769) since 2010. The Spartans went 3-1 on the road in conference games in 2012, with wins at Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and a loss at Michigan.
A trademark of his Michigan State teams has been their ability to produce wins late in the regular season. Under Dantonio, Michigan State has compiled a 14-5 record (.737) in November. His teams have won eight of the last 10 games in November (3-0 in 2010; 4-0 in 2011; and 1-2 in 2012). In 2012, MSU lost back-to-back games (Nebraska and Northwestern) in November for the first time since 2006 when the Spartans dropped three in a row. In the four seasons (2003-06) prior to Dantonio's arrival, MSU went just 2-11 (.154) in November.
Dantonio recorded 51 wins from 2007-12, the most by a Spartan head coach in his first six seasons ("Biggie" Munn ranks second, with 45 wins from 1947-1952).
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; back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2010 and 2011).
Dantonio has won at least nine games in a season three times (9 in 2008, 11 in 2010, 11 in 2011), 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).
Since 2007, Dantonio has helped produce 20 First-Team All-Big Ten selections, four consensus First-Team All-Americans (2008: RB Javon Ringer; 2009-10: LB Greg Jones; and 2011: DT Jerel Worthy) and 13 NFL Draft picks, including six in 2012. It marked the most NFL Draft selections for the Spartans since seven players were taken in 2000.
From his first day on the job, Dantonio has pledged to support student-athletes as they pursue excellence, both in the classroom and on the playing field. In his first six seasons, more than 80 percent (86 of 106) of his Michigan State players who have completed their eligibility have earned their undergraduate degrees. In addition, 70 Spartans have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, including four Academic All-Americans (2009: Blair White, first team; 2011-12: Mike Sadler, second team; 2012: Max Bullough, second team).
Under Dantonio, Michigan State has produced a 35-11 record (.761) in home games, including a 14-game winning streak spanning the 2010 and 2011 seasons.The Spartans have won 20 of their last 25 home games.
Dantonio has led Michigan State to Top 25 finishes in three of the last five seasons (2008: No. 24 both polls; 2010: No. 14 both polls; and 2011: No. 10 USA TODAY/No. 11 AP).
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