No. 15 Spartans Take On Minnesota Saturday in Spartan Stadium
 
 
 
Michigan State's defense leads the Big Ten in four statistical categories, including rushing defense (101.5 ypg.) and total defense (228.8 ypg.).
 
Michigan State's defense leads the Big Ten in four statistical categories, including rushing defense (101.5 ypg.) and total defense (228.8 ypg.).
 
 

Nov. 4, 2011

No. 15/16 Michigan State (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) vs. Minnesota (2-6, 1-3 Big Ten)
 Date | Time Saturday, Nov. 5 | 12:01 p.m.
 Location East Lansing, Mich. | Spartan Stadium (75,005/Natural Grass)
 Televison Big Ten Network
 Broadcast Team Matt Devlin (play-by-play) | Glen Mason (analyst) | Jon Jansen (sidelines)
 Radio Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live)
 Satellite Radio SIRIUS: Channel 112; XM: Channel 195
 Radio (Mobile) Broadcast available on Spartan Sports Network Mobile App: iPhone/iPad | Android
 Tickets Limited number available at msuspartans.com
 Parking/Stadium Information Gameday Answers | Tailgating Information
 Game Notes Michigan State | Minnesota
 Statistics Michigan State | Minnesota
 Depth Charts Michigan State | Minnesota
 Live Stats  Live Stats (Mobile Users) | Gametracker
 Social Media @MSU_Football   |  Facebook

FIRST-AND-10 (what you need to know about the MSU-Minnesota matchup) -
• Saturday's game marks the 44th meeting between Michigan State and Minnesota and the second straight in Spartan Stadium. The Spartans lead the all-time series, 26-17, including a 15-6 record in games played in East Lansing following last year's 31-8 victory over the Golden Gophers. Overall, Michigan State has won 20 of the last 26 meetings.

• The Spartans are ranked No. 17 in the latest Bowl Championship Series Standings, released Sunday, Oct. 30. In The Associated Press Poll, MSU is ranked 15th, while the Spartans are 16th in the USA TODAY Poll. MSU has been ranked in the USA TODAY Poll for 23 consecutive weeks, the longest streak for the program since USA TODAY began administering the poll in 1991.

Edwin Baker recorded a career-high four rushing touchdowns and rushed for 179 yards on 27 carries in MSU's 31-8 win over Minnesota on Nov. 6, 2010, in Spartan Stadium. The Spartans limited Minnesota to 267 yards of total offense, including just 76 yards on the ground. It marked MSU's first win over the Gophers in Spartan Stadium since 2004.

• Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten and tied for 14th in the nation with 11 interceptions. The Spartans have recorded an interception in seven of their eight games this season. Junior safety Isaiah Lewis leads the Big Ten and ranks tied for seventh in the nation with four interceptions; he's also one of just six players in the FBS to return two interceptions for touchdowns this season. Five other Spartans have recorded interceptions in 2011: Trenton Robinson (2), Kurtis Drummond (2), Johnny Adams (1), Max Bullough (1) and Darqueze Dennard (1).

• MSU has won 17 of its last 21 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season. Although the Spartans' six-game Big Ten winning streak was snapped in the loss at Nebraska, MSU has still won 10 of its last 12 conference games.

• The 2011 senior class has helped Michigan State to a combined record of 32-15 (.681). The 32 wins are the second-most victories ever recorded by a senior class in MSU's 115-year football history, just one shy of tying the school record set by the Class of 2010 (33 victories and four consecutive bowl appearances).

• Michigan State leads the Big Ten in rushing defense (101.5 yards per game), passing defense (127.3 ypg.), pass efficiency defense (95.3 rating) and total defense (228.8 ypg.). In addition, the Spartans rank among the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Top 10 in four different statistical categories: first in pass defense, second in total defense, third in pass efficiency defense, and sixth in scoring defense (15.0 points per game).

• Through four Big Ten games, the Spartans have recorded 36 tackles for loss, including a league-best 19 sacks. MSU's nine sacks at Ohio State tied a school record and also ranks tied for first in a single game this season in the FBS.

• Junior defensive tackle Jerel Worthy has been named one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award (college lineman of the year) and one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year). Worthy, who was named a midseason All-American by ESPN.com, CBSSports.com, SI.com, Sporting News and Phil Steele, has 17 tackles this season, including 5.5 for losses (28 yards) and 2.5 sacks (19 yards). His 11 career sacks are tied for 15th most in MSU history. Percy Snow is the only Spartan to win the Lombardi Award (1989).

• Fifth-year senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, who became the winningest quarterback in school history with the victory over Wisconsin, has been named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award and one of 16 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy (nation's best scholar-athlete). To be eligible for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. Each Campbell Trophy finalist will be presented an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS -
• Under Dantonio, Michigan State has compiled a 9-3 record (.750) in November. MSU went a perfect 3-0 in November last season for the first time since 1999.

• Michigan State has been a strong first-half team, outscoring its opponents, 122-58. In the second quarter alone, MSU has outscored its opponents by 68 points, 84-13.

• The Spartans have only allowed their opponents 15 trips into the red zone this season, which is tied for the third fewest trips permitted in the NCAA FBS (Alabama - 9).

Michigan State is 9-3 under head coach Mark Dantonio during the month of November.


• The Spartan defense has allowed only one gain of 40-plus yards from scrimmage in 2011 - the third-fewest surrendered by an NCAA FBS team (South Carolina, South Florida - 0).

• Michigan State did not commit a penalty against Wisconsin. It marked the first time MSU wasn't flagged for a penalty in a game since Oct. 4, 1975, at Notre Dame.

Kirk Cousins has connected on 46-of-73 third-down throws (.630) for 514 yards, with 30 of those completions resulting in first downs.

• Sophomore running back Le'Veon Bell led MSU with 58 yards rushing at Nebraska and crossed the 1,000-yard mark for his career. Bell now has 1,037 career rushing yards on 194 carries (5.3 avg.) in 21 career games; he also made his first career start against the Huskers.

• Michigan State's starting linebackers - Max Bullough (50), Chris Norman (44) and Denicos Allen (43) - rank 1-2-3 on the team in tackles. Allen (163) and Bullough (162) also rank 1-2 in production points. Allen leads the team in both tackles for loss (11 for 55 yards) and sacks (6 for 42).

• Over his last three games (vs. Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska), senior Keshawn Martin has produced four touchdowns (three TD receptions and one rushing TD) and has led MSU with 13 catches for 130 yards. Martin had three catches for 31 yards in Michigan State's 28-14 victory over No. 11 Michigan, including TD grabs of 10 and 13 yards in the third quarter. He scored on a 34-yard double reverse in the second quarter of MSU's 37-31 win over No. 4 Wisconsin. Martin also caught five passes for 41 yards against the Badgers, including a 15-yard TD reception early in the fourth quarter that gave the Spartans a 31-17 lead. Against Nebraska, Martin led MSU with five catches for 58 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, Arizona State's Jamal Miles and Toledo's Eric Page as the only active players in the NCAA FBS that have accomplished that feat. Western Kentucky's Darrius Brooks also has scored TDs in five different ways in his career (rushing, receiving, passing, interception and blocked punt return).

• Sophomore defensive end William Gholston recorded a career-high 15 tackles at Nebraska, matching a single-game high for a Spartan this season (Max Bullough 15 tackles vs. Youngstown State). Gholston became the first Spartan defensive lineman to reach double figures in tackles since Jonal Saint-Dic posted 10 stops against Northwestern in 2007, and it marked the highest single-game total by a Spartan defensive lineman since Josh Shaw produced 17 tackles against Wisconsin in 2000. Gholston also had 1.5 tackles for loss (7 yards) and one sack (5 yards) against the Huskers; he has 8.5 tackles for loss (28 yards) this season and 2.5 sacks (17 yards).

• Red-shirt freshman defensive end Marcus Rush recorded career highs in tackles (11) and tackles for loss (2.5 for 4 yards) against the Huskers. Rush has 7.0 TFLs this season (33 yards).

• Sophomore linebacker Kyler Elsworth, who was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week following his blocked punt in the win over Wisconsin, recorded a career-high 10 tackles vs. Nebraska.

Dan Conroy connected on a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter at Nebraska, moving him into a tie for ninth place all-time at MSU, along with Bill Stoyanovich, with 22 career field goals.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW -
• With wins over Michigan and Wisconsin, Michigan State became the first team to defeat opponents with 6-0 or better overall records in consecutive Big Ten Conference games.

• Michigan State became the second team in Big Ten history to go 3-0 against Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin in a three-game span, joining Penn State, which accomplished the feat in 2008.

• With consecutive wins over No. 10 Michigan and No. 4 Wisconsin, Michigan State became just the third Big Ten team since 2002 to record back-to-back victories over Top 10 opponents, according to the USA TODAY Coaches Poll, joining Ohio State (2002) and Michigan (2003).

The Spartans will be looking for their 13th straight win at Spartan Stadium on Saturday when they take on the Gophers.


• Michigan State's first eight opponents comprised the nation's 13th-most difficult schedule (tied with Kent State), according to NCAA figures. The Spartans' first eight opponents had a combined record of 28-18 (.609) against other NCAA Bowl Subdivision teams.

SPARTANS TOUGH ON HOME TURF -
Spartan Stadium is in its 88th season as home to Michigan State football. Michigan State has compiled a 332-142-13 record (.695) since taking up residency in Spartan Stadium in 1923. In five seasons under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State has produced a 27-6 record (.818) in home games, including its current 12-game winning streak. It matches MSU's longest home streak since winning 12-straight from 1964-66 and 1954-57 (teams coached by Duffy Daugherty).

THE LAST MEETING -
Nov. 6, 2010, in East Lansing, Mich.: Edwin Baker ran for 179 yards and four touchdowns, and the 16th-ranked Spartans bounced back from their first defeat of the season with a 31-8 win over Minnesota.

Baker scored twice on fourth down near the goal line to help the Spartans take a 21-0 halftime lead. Minnesota never threatened after that en route to its ninth straight loss.

Baker had scoring runs of 30, 1 and 1 yard in the first half, and another 1-yarder in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Kirk Cousins went 9 of 20 for 131 yards with an interception, and his record-tying streak of 16 games with a touchdown pass came to an end. He shares that school record with Drew Stanton. Cousins' deep pass over the middle was nearly intercepted early in the first quarter, but immediately after that, Baker scored his 30-yard touchdown.

Michigan State opened up a big lead thanks to a couple aggressive decisions in the second quarter. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Baker scored on a run over the right side of the offensive line. Then, facing fourth down from the 1 again near the end of the half, Michigan State let the clock run before calling a timeout with 4 seconds left. Baker found a hole for an easy touchdown.

Minnesota struggled to move the ball against the Spartans. Senior Adam Weber went 15 of 22 for 167 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his 48th consecutive start, but the Golden Gophers also let MarQueis Gray take some snaps at quarterback. Weber holds the Big Ten record for consecutive starts by a quarterback. Gray, who also plays wide receiver, caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Weber in the fourth quarter after an interception gave Minnesota the ball at the Michigan State 20.

Baker's final touchdown made it 31-8 with 5:24 left in the game.

MSU/MINNESOTA COACHING CONNECTION -
• Michigan State first-year running backs coach Brad Salem's father Joe compiled a 19-35-1 record (.355) in five seasons as head coach at Minnesota, from 1979-83.

• Minnesota assistant head coach/linebackers coach Bill Miller spent four years as the defensive coordinator at Michigan State from 1999-2002. MSU head coach Mark Dantonio coached with Miller for two seasons at MSU (1999, 2000) when Dantonio was the secondary coach for the Spartans. During his Michigan State tenure, Miller tutored six NFL Draft choices, including Julian Peterson (San Francisco, 2000), Aric Morris (Tennessee, 2000), Robaire Smith (Tennessee, 2000), Renaldo Hill (Arizona, 2001), T.J. Turner (New England, 2001) and Josh Shaw (San Francisco, 2002). In 2000, Miller was nominated for the Broyles Award, which is named in honor of former Arkansas head coach Frank Broyles and presented annually to the nation's top assistant football coach. Michigan State's defense persevered in 2000 despite losing six starters from the 1999 unit, including three players selected in the 2000 NFL Draft. Miller put together a defensive package that helped the Spartans lead the Big Ten in total defense (318.3 yards per game), pass defense (164.1 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (104.5 rating). In addition, Michigan State ranked among the NCAA leaders in those stat categories, including No. 7 in pass defense. In 1999, the Spartans ranked among the NCAA leaders in rushing defense (fifth at 77.0 yards per game), total defense (12th at 299.0 yards) and scoring defense (t-22nd at 19.2 points).

TODD "T.J." DUCKETT NAMED HONORARY CAPTAIN -
Former Michigan State running back Todd "T.J." Duckett, the Spartans' sixth all-time leading rusher with 3,379 career yards, has been selected honorary captain for Saturday's game against Minnesota. He will address the team during the pre-game meal and join the 2011 captains at midfield for the coin toss.

Duckett, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media in 2001, rushed for 1,420 yards - the seventh-best single-season total in Spartan history. The 6-foot-1, 249-pound running back finished third in the Big Ten in rushing, averaging 118.3 yards per game. As a junior, he accounted for 77 percent of Michigan State's rushing offense (1,420 of 1,854 yards) and scored 12 of its 19 rushing touchdowns.

The Kalamazoo, Mich., native played as well as anyone down the stretch in 2001, averaging 139.0 yards over his last seven games. Duckett recorded his seventh 100-yard rushing game of the 2001 season in MSU's 44-35 victory over No. 20 Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Football Classic, gaining 184 yards on 27 carries. He also scored on TD runs of 5 and 39 yards against Fresno State.

Duckett earned USAToday.com National Player of the Week and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors after producing a season-high 211 yards on 27 rushes in MSU's 26-24 upset victory over No. 6 Michigan. He became the first running back in 2001 to gain 100 yards against Michigan, which entered the game ranked first in the NCAA in rushing defense, allowing only 54.4 yards per game. Duckett also became the first back in Spartan history to record a 200-yard rushing game in the MSU-Michigan series. His 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter vs. Michigan gave the Spartans a 14-10 lead. Duckett also caught three passes for 19 yards vs. Michigan including the game winner, a 2-yard TD toss from Jeff Smoker as time expired.

A three-year letterman from 1999-2001, Duckett still ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in rushing touchdowns (tied for sixth at 29), total TDs (tied for seventh at 30), rushing attempts (seventh at 621) and all-purpose yards (11th at 3,530). He had 14 career 100-yard rushing games, including a career-high 248 yards against Iowa (30 attempts) in 2000.

Following his junior season, Duckett was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the first round (No. 18 overall) of the 2002 National Football League Draft. He spent seven years in the NFL, including four seasons in Atlanta (2002-05), and one each in Washington (2006), Detroit (2007) and Seattle (2008). Duckett started 14 of 93 career games and rushed for 2,814 yards and 44 TDs. He posted career highs in rushing yards (779) and rushing TDs (11) in 2003. Duckett scored eight or more rushing TDs in four of his seven pro seasons.

He currently resides in East Lansing, Mich., and spearheads marketing and business development for Duckett Brothers Distributing, a Mid-Michigan based janitorial and industrial supply company. Duckett also is heavily involved in numerous local charities and community service initiatives, including Lunch with a Purpose and New World Flood.

COUSINS ESTABLISHES HIMSELF AS ONE OF NATION'S TOP QUARTERBACKS -
Fifth-year senior Kirk Cousins, one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, became the winningest quarterback in Spartan history with Michigan State's dramatic 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin on Oct. 29. Cousins is 22-11 (.667) in 33 career starts, including a 17-4 record since the beginning of the 2010 season. He broke the mark he previously shared with Jeff Smoker (21 career wins from 2000-03). His career winning percentage (seventh) and career victories (ninth) rank among all active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks.

Cousins recorded his 20th career 200-yard passing game in the win against the Badgers, completing 22-of-31 throws for 290 yards and three touchdowns, including his 44-yard Hail Mary pass to Keith Nichol on the final play of regulation. The three TD passes matched his career best (five times; last vs. Northwestern, 2010). In addition to the game-winner to Nichol, Cousins completed scoring passes of 35 yards to B.J. Cunningham and 15 yards to Keshawn Martin.

Kirk Cousins is one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award.


Following the win over Wisconsin, Cousins was named the Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week, marking the second time in his career he was won the award (Oct. 25, 2010, following MSU's comeback win at Northwestern).

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Cousins ranks among the Big Ten leaders in passing yards (third at 211.6 yards per game), touchdown passes (tied for fourth with 11), passing efficiency (sixth with a 136.6 rating) and total offense (eighth at 202.9 ypg.). He has completed 147-of-231 throws (.636) for 1,693 yards, 11 TDs and five interceptions.

Battling windy conditions with gusts up to 40 mph, Cousins completed 13-of-24 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns in Michigan State's 28-14 victory over No. 11 and previously undefeated Michigan. Cousins became the first Spartan starting quarterback to win three straight games over the Wolverines.

Cousins completed 20-of-32 passes for 250 yards in MSU's 10-7 victory at Ohio State, 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 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.

He completed 16-of-20 passes for 183 yards and two TDs in MSU's 44-0 victory over Florida Atlantic. Cousins threw TD passes of 1 yard to Dion Sims and 8 yards to Garrett Celek.

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 passing efficiency (144.2) and second in completion percentage (.641; 603-of-940). Those figures also rank among the best in Big Ten history: sixth in completion percentage and eighth in passing efficiency. He is listed among MSU's all-time leaders in pass completions (second with 603), passing yards (second with 7,508 yards), TD passes (second with 52), 200-yard passing games (second with 20), pass attempts (second with 940) and total offense (third with 7,350 yards). In addition, Cousins ranks among all active NCAA FBS leaders in completion percentage (14th), TD passes (tied for 15th), passing yards (15th), completions (16th), passing efficiency (17th) and total offense (17th).

COUSINS NAMED TO 2011 NFF SCHOLAR-ATHLETE CLASS -
Michigan State fifth-year senior Kirk Cousins, the winningest quarterback in school history and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, has been named to the 2011 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Class. Based upon his selection, Cousins also becomes one of 16 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. Each Campbell Trophy finalist will be presented an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship at the 54th annual NFF Awards Dinner, scheduled for Dec. 6 at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City.

The NFF's National Scholar-Athlete program, launched in 1959, is the first initiative in history to award scholar-athletes postgraduate scholarships for their combined athletic, academic and leadership abilities. Nominated by their respective schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first-team player and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.

Cousins becomes the fifth NFF National Scholar-Athlete in Michigan State history and the first since safety Steve Wasylk earned the honor in 1993.

Selected from a nationwide pool of 127 student-athletes, representing all NCAA divisions as well as NAIA, the 16-member class also includes: Georgia punter Drew Butler, Delta State (Miss.) quarterback Micah Davis, Navy offensive guard John Dowd, Northwestern State linebacker Yaser Elqutub, South Dakota State running back Chris Ganious, Colorado School of Mines quarterback Clay Garcia, Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish, Kansas State defensive back Tysyn Hartman, South Florida offensive lineman Chaz Hine, Purdue linebacker Joe Holland, Washington State wide receiver Jared Karstetter, Army linebacker Andrew Rodriguez, Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Yale quarterback Patrick Witt and Dubuque (Iowa) wide receiver Michael Zweifel.

Named in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University, and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal, the award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship. A total of $300,000 in scholarships will be distributed during the annual NFF Awards Dinner.

Just the second three-time captain in the 115-year history of Spartan football, Cousins was selected to speak on behalf of all student-athletes attending the 2011 Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. His speech on "privilege and responsibility" has more than 145,000 views on YouTube. Cousins participates in the Spartan Buddies program, volunteering in the pediatric ward at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, and the Athletes in Action sports ministry. In 2010, he was named to the Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team, the preeminent community service award in college football, and was presented the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award (MSU recipient) and MSU's Clarence J. Underwood Jr. Sportsmanship Award. Cousins, who carries a 3.68 grade-point average in kinesiology, is scheduled to graduate in December 2011.

"Kirk Cousins is certainly deserving of this special recognition by the National Football Foundation because he represents the ideal scholar-athlete," MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. "Throughout his career, Kirk has pursued excellence in the classroom and on the playing field, and he's made a concerted effort to have a positive impact in the community. In addition, Kirk is a remarkable leader who has become a great ambassador, not only for this University and the Big Ten Conference, but all of college football. He's a winner in all aspects of his life."

CUNNINGHAM OPENS 2011 SEASON WITH A BANG -
Fifth-year senior B.J. Cunningham ranks tied for second in the Big Ten in receptions (6.0 per game) and third in receiving yards (90.4 per game). In addition, Cunningham ranks among the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Top 40 in both stat categories: 28th in receiving yards and tied for 36th in receptions. Cunningham leads the team in receptions (48), receiving yards (723) and 20-yard receptions (10). Thirty-two of his 48 receptions (67 percent) have resulted either a touchdown or a first down. Cunningham had his streak of 41 consecutive regular-season games with at least one pass reception come to an end at Nebraska.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Cunningham already ranks as Michigan State's all-time leader in receptions with 187. He also is listed among the school's career leaders in receiving yards (third with 2,503 yards). In addition, Cunningham ranks among all active NCAA FBS leaders in receptions (15th) and receiving yards (16th).

He posted his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season and sixth of his career, with six receptions for 102 yards in MSU's 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin. With his 35-yard touchdown grab from Kirk Cousins in the second quarter, Cunningham tied Gene Washington for sixth place on MSU's all-time list with his 16th career TD reception.

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. 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.

WORTHY NAMED MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICAN, LOMBARDI AWARD SEMIFINALIST -
Junior Jerel Worthy helps anchor a Spartan defensive unit that leads the Big Ten in rushing defense (101.5 yards per game), passing defense (127.3 ypg.), pass efficiency defense (95.3 rating) and total defense (228.8 ypg.). In addition, Michigan State ranks among the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Top 10 in four different statistical categories: first in passing defense, second in total defense, third in pass efficiency defense and sixth in scoring defense (15.0 points per game).

Worthy, who ranks tied for fourth on the team in tackles for loss (5.5 for 28 yards) and ninth in production points (77), earned Midseason First-Team All-America honors from SI.com, CBSSports.com, Sporting News and Phil Steele. In addition, he has been named one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award (college lineman of the year), one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year) and one of 20 quarterfinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy (presented to Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year).

The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Worthy has recorded a tackle for loss in six of the eight games this season. He has been credited with 17 tackles, including 2.5 sacks (19 yards).

Worthy made three tackles in MSU's 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin, including one for a 2-yard loss. He had two stops in MSU's 28-14 win over No. 11 Michigan, including a 4-yard half sack. Worthy also produced two tackles in MSU's 10-7 victory at Ohio State, with 1.5 tackles for loss including a 5-yard sack. He registered a season-high four stops and recovered a fumble at Notre Dame. Worthy wore retired jersey No. 95 against the Irish as a tribute to former two-time All-American Charles "Bubba" Smith, who passed away in early August. Smith's final game as a Spartan came in the 1966 "Game of the Century" between the No. 1 Irish and No. 2 Spartans that ended in a 10-10 tie.

The Huber Heights, Ohio, native has started 32 of 34 career games and recorded 94 tackles, with 22.5 resulting in losses (103 yards) including 11 sacks (69 yards). His 11 sacks are tied for 15th on MSU's all-time list.

SPARTANS OPEN 2011 SEASON AGAINST ONE OF THE NCAA'S TOUGHEST SCHEDULES -
Michigan State's first eight opponents comprised the nation's 13th-most difficult schedule (tied with Kent State), according to NCAA figures. The Spartans' first eight opponents had a combined record of 28-18 (.609) against other NCAA Bowl Subdivision teams.

RAY NOMINATED FOR DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL/FWAA COURAGE AWARD -
Michigan State's Arthur Ray Jr. is this week's nominee for the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season. Ray, a senior offensive guard from Chicago, has returned to football this season, four years after bone cancer derailed his career.

Ray signed with Michigan State as a highly recruited lineman from Chicago's Mount Carmel High School in 2007, but was soon diagnosed with cancer in his left leg. Through nine surgeries - including four bone grafts - countless rounds of chemotherapy and several outbreaks of infection, he was unable to practice or play. For almost two years, he was unable to walk without crutches.

He had been given a medical disqualification and remained on scholarship with Michigan State. But last April, doctors cleared him to resume football.

Still, practicing was one thing; playing quite another. On Sept. 3, when the Spartans opened the season against Youngstown State, starting left guard Joel Foreman - a fifth-year senior and a team co-captain - asked Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio if he could give up his position to his friend. Foreman had started 22 straight games and 36 of 38 in his career.

Ray participated in only the first play, but blocked two players.

He has since played against Florida Atlantic and continues to practice with the goal of earning more playing time.

For the sixth straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the Discover Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee for the Discover Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award. A blue-ribbon panel will determine the award's recipient from those weekly nominees. The recipient of the Courage Award will be announced in December and presented with the trophy in conjunction with this year's Discover Orange Bowl.

The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine's senior writer Gene Wojciechowski, also an FWAA member. A select group of FWAA members vote on the recipient each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship.

Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).

FOUR SPARTANS LISTED ON ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT BALLOT -
Four Michigan State players - sophomore linebacker Max Bullough, fifth-year senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, fifth-year senior offensive guard Joel Foreman and red-shirt freshman punter Mike Sadler - have been nominated for the Academic All-District V Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

To be nominated for the Academic All-District Team, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.3 cumulative grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale) for his career. He also must have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing.

District V includes all schools from the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.