No. 13 Spartans Look To Clinch Legends Division at Northwestern
 
 
 
Michigan State is riding a six-game winning streak into Saturday's matchup at Northwestern.

 
Michigan State is riding a six-game winning streak into Saturday's matchup at Northwestern.
 
 

Nov. 21, 2013

Game 11:
No. 13/13 Michigan State (9-1, 6-0 Big Ten) at Northwestern (4-6, 0-6 Big Ten)
 Date | Time Saturday, Nov. 23 | 12:01 p.m. EST
 Location Evanston, Ill.
Ryan Field (47,330/Natural Grass)
 Televison ESPN
 Broadcast Team Bob Wischusen (play-by-play) | Rod Gilmore (analyst) | Quint Kessenich (sideline)
 Internet Coverage Gametracker | Watch (WatchESPN.com)
 Radio Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live) | Affiliates
 Radio (Mobile) Broadcast available on Spartan Sports Network Mobile App: iPhone/iPad | Android
 Radio (Satellite) Sirius: Ch. 85 | XM: Ch. 85
 Parking/Stadium Information Northwestern Gameday Central
 Game Notes Michigan State | Northwestern
 Depth Charts Michigan State | Northwestern
 Social Media @MSU_Football | #MSUNU | Facebook

FIRST-AND-10 -
• No. 13/13 Michigan State will look to win the Big Ten Legends Division title outright for the second time in three years as it takes on Northwestern Saturday, Nov. 23 in Evanston, Ill., at 12 p.m. EST. MSU, which owns a 6-0 Big Ten record for just the third time in program history (1965, 1966), secured at least a share of the division title with its first-ever win over Nebraska last week in Lincoln, 41-28. The Spartans can earn a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 7 with at least one win in its next two games, or one more loss by Minnesota. Although the Wildcats are 0-6 in league play, five of their six conference losses have been by 10 or less points, including two in overtime (Iowa, Michigan) and one on the last play of regulation (Nebraska). The Spartans enter Saturday's matchup at Northwestern on a six-game winning streak, which is tied for the second longest of the Dantonio era. Michigan State also clinched the Legends Division title outright at Northwestern in 2011. Dantonio is 3-0 against Northwestern in Evanston and the Spartans have won four straight at Ryan Field, with their last loss arriving in 2001.

• The Spartans are off to their best 10-game start since 2010, when they also began the season 9-1. In seasons where MSU has played at least 10 games, this marks just the sixth time in program history the Spartans have won at least nine of their first 10 games (1953, 1955, 1965, 1966, 2010, 2013).

• A trademark of Mark Dantonio's Michigan State teams has been their ability to produce wins late in the regular season. Under Dantonio, Michigan State has compiled a 16-5 record (.762) in November. His teams have won 10 of the last 12 games in November (3-0 in 2010; 4-0 in 2011; 1-2 in 2012, 2-0 in 2013). In addition, Michigan State is 18-9 (.667) in Big Ten road games under Dantonio, including a five-game winning streak and a 12-3 record (.800) since 2010. MSU is 3-0 in conference road games this season (wins at Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska). Dantonio has won at least one road game at every Big Ten stadium. Earlier this week, Dantonio was named one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Football Club Coach of the Year Award.

• Through 10 games, Michigan State's defense ranks No. 1 in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense (228.4 yards per game) and rushing defense (57.3 ypg.). The Spartans have been ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense for 10 consecutive weeks. The Spartans also rank among the national leaders in pass efficiency defense (second with 94.4 rating), first downs defense (second at 13.3 pg.), opponent third-down conversions (second at .274; 40-for-146), scoring defense (fourth at 13.2 ppg.) and passing defense (fifth at 171.1 ypg.). Michigan State, Florida State and Louisville are the only three schools 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 3.75 yards per play and 2.10 yards per rushing attempt, both of which rank No. 1 in the FBS. In addition, MSU also leads the FBS in opponent plays of 10-plus yards (79) and opponent rushes of 10-plus yards (13). The Spartans also have allowed just 27 plays of 20-plus yards, which is seventh fewest in the FBS.

• In addition to stellar defensive play, one of the key reasons for Michigan State's success this season has been controlling time of possession. The Spartans lead the FBS in time of possession (34:56 per game) in 2013, and in conference games, that margin improves by more than one minute (35:58 per game). Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 44-8 (.846) when leading in time of possession, including a 31-5 record (.861) since 2010.

• With the victory at Nebraska, the 2013 senior class won its 38th game since 2010 (38-12) to become the winningest senior class in the 117-year history of Michigan State football. The class of 2011 games won 37 games from 2008-11.

• Senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard has been named one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded to the top defensive player in college football. Already named a Thorpe Award semifinalist, Dennard ranks among the Big Ten leaders in interceptions (3), pass break-ups (7) and passes defended (10), and is one of the main reasons why Michigan State leads the Big Ten and ranks second in the FBS in pass efficiency defense (94.4 rating) and fifth in passing defense (171.1 ypg.). The other four finalists are: Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Missouri defensive end Michael Sam. The winner will be announced at the Bronko Nagurski Awards dinner, presented by the Charlotte Touchdown Club, on Monday, Dec. 9 in Charlotte, N.C.

• Junior punter Mike Sadler has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award, which honors the nation's top punter. An All-America candidate, Sadler has been a valuable weapon on special teams for the Spartans, as he ranks third in the Big Ten and 34th in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in punting with his 42.5-yard average. He leads the FBS with 19 of his 54 punts (35 percent) downed inside the 10-yard line and ranks tied for second with 26 punts placed inside the 20 (48 percent). Sadler also has had seven punts downed inside the 5, including three at the 1-yard line. In addition, he has 11 punts of 50-plus yards and opponents have collected just 78 punt return yards against the Spartans through 10 games.

• The Spartans have won 38 of their last 50 games (.760), dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season. The 38 wins are tied for most in the Big Ten during that same time period. In addition, MSU has recorded 33 Big Ten victories since 2008, the most of any team in the conference (Note: Ohio State has won 38 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 -
Michigan State (after 10 games):
Rushing - Jeremy Langford (199 carries for 926 yards, 4.7 avg., 13 TDs)
Passing - Connor Cook (151 of 261 for 1,683 yards, 14 TDs, 3 INTs)
Receiving - Macgarrett Kings Jr. (31 catches for 354 yards, 11.4 avg., 3 TDs)
Tackles - Kurtis Drummond (65 tackles, 34 solos, 31 assists, 3.0 TFL, 2 INTs, 4 PBUs)

Northwestern (after 10 games):
Rushing - Treyvon Green (105 carries for 642 yards, 6.1 avg., 8 TDs)
Passing - Trevor Siemian (121 of 209 for 1,502 yards, 7 TDs, 7 INTs)
Receiving - Tony Jones (43 catches for 527 yards, 12.3 avg., 4 TDs)
Tackles - Damien Proby (91 tackles, 57 solos, 34 assists, 5.0 TFL

THE LAST MEETING -
Nov. 17, 2012, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP): Jeff Budzien kicked a 27-yard field goal with 7:30 remaining, and Northwestern was able to hold on to this fourth-quarter lead, beating Michigan State 23-20. Trevor Siemian threw for 165 yards, including a 41-yard pass to Dan Vitale that helped set up the winning kick. The Wildcats then forced a punt near midfield, and by the time Michigan State got the ball back at its own 20, there was only 1:29 left.

Northwestern lost fourth-quarter leads in gut-wrenching losses to Penn State, Nebraska and Michigan, but this time Michigan State's Andrew Maxwell threw four straight incompletions to seal the Spartans' fate.

The Wildcats spoiled Michigan State's home finale despite what was announced as an upper extremity injury to running back Venric Mark, who didn't play in the second half. Siemian and Kain Colter split time at quarterback for the Wildcats. Colter went 13 of 20 for 81 yards and a touchdown.

Northwestern led 13-5 early in the third quarter after David Nwabuisi returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown. Maxwell seemed shaken up on the play, but he was able to keep playing and quickly led the Spartans on a sharp 65-yard drive that ended with his 15-yard scoring pass to Aaron Burbridge. A 2-point conversion pass to Keith Mumphery tied it at 13.

Colter's 6-yard touchdown pass to Tim Riley gave Northwestern a 20-13 lead, but the Spartans tied it again on a 6-yard scoring pass from Maxwell to Tony Lippett with 9:22 left in the fourth.

Michigan State lost the ball twice inside the Northwestern 5-yard line in the first half. A fumble on the snap gave the Wildcats the ball at their own 2 late in the first quarter, but Colter was hit in the end zone by Max Bullough and William Gholston for a safety that made it 3-2.

Michigan State led 5-3 in the second and had the ball at the Northwestern 1, but star running back Le'Veon Bell was dropped for a loss of 3 on fourth down.

The Wildcats took a 6-5 lead into halftime when Budzien made a 43-yard field goal in the final minute of the quarter, and Michigan State's Dan Conroy missed from 37 at the other end.

THE LAST MEETING IN RYAN FIELD -
Nov. 26, 2011, in Evanston, Ill. (AP): All week long Michigan State vowed to look straight ahead at Northwestern instead of a week down the road to the Big Ten Championship Game. The Spartans were true to their word, beating Northwestern 31-17 on Saturday in a competitive tuneup.

Keshawn Martin returned a punt 57 yards for a TD just before half, Kirk Cousins became the school's career TD pass leader with two more and Michigan State's league-best defense came up with six sacks.

Cousins threw a 33-yard TD to B.J. Cunningham in the third quarter and hit him again on a juggling 29-yard TD pass with 5:17 left to complete a 93-yard drive. It was the 62nd career touchdown pass for Cousins, breaking the school record held by Jeff Smoker (61).

The Wildcats closed to 24-17 early in the final quarter on Dan Persa's 12-yard TD pass to Demetrius Fields, set up by a clutch fourth-down pass from Persa to Jeremy Ebert. The Wildcats got the ball back at the MSU 47, but a holding penalty and Jerel Worthy's sack of Persa forced a punt and then MSU went on its long, game-clinching drive.

Cousins completed 14 of 20 for 214 yards and Cunningham had six catches for 120 yards. Persa completed 23 of 32 for 245 yards and two TDs.

Michigan State scored two touchdowns in the final 1:40 of the second quarter, including Martin's punt return, and took a 17-3 lead at the intermission. Instead of being ahead, all of a sudden Northwestern was behind by two touchdowns.

With the score tied at 3-3, Northwestern was driving when Treyvon Green fumbled after a hit by Max Bullough and Michigan State's Denzel Drone recovered at the Spartan 3 with just more than five minutes left in the half. Northwestern called a timeout -- presumably to have the play reviewed -- but Michigan State retained possession.

MSU then took off on a 97-yard drive -- Cousins hit Brian Linthicum for 15 yards and heaved a 46-yarder to Martin that carried to the NU 7. Le'Veon Bell then carried the final 7 yards for a TD, completing an eight-play march that put the Spartans up 10-3.

The Spartans defense then forced a Northwestern punt and Martin fielded Brandon Williams' boot, broke to his right, signaled to blockers and sailed in for a 17-3 lead. The two TDs came just 66 seconds apart.

Northwestern responded quickly once the second half began.

The Wildcats' Drake Dunsmore got wide open on a blown coverage, hauled in a Persa pass and raced downfield on a 69-yard play before he knocked out at the 3. One play later, Persa flipped a 2-yard TD to Ebert and two minutes into the third quarter, Northwestern was back in the game at 17-10.

But Cousins had a third-down keeper of 8 yards for a first down to keep the Spartans moving. And then on a third-and-13 he rolled out and avoided the rush before making a beautiful throw to Cunningham for a 33-yard TD that made it 24-10.

MSU/NORTHWESTERN COACHING CONNECTIONS -
• Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio and Northwestern defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz spent the 1981 season together at Purdue, working under Jim Young. Dantonio served as a graduate assistant, while Hankwitz coached the outside linebackers.

• Michigan State co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Dave Warner, MSU director of football operations Tim Allen and Northwestern defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz worked together for two years under Glen Mason at Kansas (1995-96).

MSU/NORTHWESTERN CONNECTIONS, PART II -
• Michigan State football video coordinator Matt Harper spent six seasons in a similar position at Northwestern (2002-05 and 2007-08).

• Northwestern associate athletics director/director of athletic training services Tory Lindley earned his bachelor's degree from Michigan State in 1991. Lindley later spent four years as an assistant trainer at Michigan State (1996-2000).

SPARTANS FROM THE LAND OF LINCOLN -
• Michigan State's 2013 roster features two players from Illinois: sophomore offensive lineman Jack Allen (Hinsdale/Hinsdale Central) and freshman defensive end Demetrious Cooper (Chicago/Percy L. Julian).

PROGRAM NOTES -
• Michigan State secured its third-straight winning campaign (7-6) in 2012 with a thrilling 13-point second-half comeback victory over TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, defeating the Horned Frogs, 17-16. The Spartans have won back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the 1989-90 seasons (MSU defeated Georgia, 33-30, in triple overtime in the 2012 Outback Bowl). MSU is the only Big Ten team to win its last two bowl games in the past two seasons.

• With its 14-0 victory over Purdue, Michigan State became bowl eligible for a school-record seventh consecutive season.

• MSU's 38 wins since 2010 is tied for 11th most among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams and tied for most in the Big Ten during that same period. The Spartans have posted four consecutive winning seasons, a first for the program since recording six in a row from 1985-90. MSU has won 38 of their last 50 games (.760), dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season.

• Michigan State has appeared in a school-record six consecutive bowl games (2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl, 2012 Outback Bowl, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl). The six-year bowl streak is currently tied for the 18th longest in the NCAA FBS and second longest in the Big Ten.

• Michigan State is one of only eight schools to have had at least one player chosen every year since the inception of the common NFL Draft in 1967. MSU joins Arizona State, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas and USC as the only programs with at least one draft choice for 47 consecutive years.

• Michigan State and Florida are the only schools in the country to win multiple National Championships in football and men's basketball. MSU has won six national titles in football (1951, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1965, 1966) and two in men's basketball (1979, 2000). Michigan State is also the only school in the nation to win multiple national championships in football, men's basketball and hockey.

• Since 2008, MSU has recorded 33 Big Ten victories, the most of any team in the conference (Note: Ohio State has won 38 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.

SPARTAN DEFENSE RANKS NO. 1 IN THE FBS -
• Through 10 games, Michigan State's defense ranks No. 1 in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense (228.4 yards per game) and rushing defense (57.3 ypg.). The Spartans have been ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense for 10 consecutive weeks. The Spartans also rank among the national leaders in pass efficiency defense (second with 94.4 rating), first downs defense (second at 13.3 pg.), opponent third-down conversions (second at .274; 40-for-146), scoring defense (fourth at 13.2 ppg.) and passing defense (fifth at 171.1 ypg.).

Michigan State has been ranked No. 1 in the FBS in total defense for 10 consecutive weeks.


• Michigan State, Florida State and Louisville are the only three schools 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 3.75 yards per play and 2.10 yards per rushing attempt, both of which rank No. 1 in the FBS. In addition, MSU also leads the FBS in opponent plays of 10-plus yards (79) and opponent rushes of 10-plus yards (13). The Spartans also have allowed just 27 plays of 20-plus yards, which is seventh fewest in the FBS.

• The Spartans have held nine of their 10 opponents below 100 yards rushing. Michigan State was the last team in the FBS this season to allow an opponent to rush for more than 100 yards in a game (Nebraska, 182 yards on Nov. 16). In 89 games under Mark Dantonio, MSU has held its opponents under 100 yards rushing 44 times (49 percent).

• Since the beginning of 2011, Michigan State has held opponents under 100 rushing yards in 24 of 37 games (seven in 2011; eight in 2012; nine in 2013). In addition, MSU has held 12 opponents under 50 yards rushing (three times in 2011; five in 2012; four in 2013) since 2011.

• 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 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.

TOUGH TO SCORE ON SPARTAN DEFENSE -
• Michigan State, which has ranked in the FBS Top 10 the past two seasons in scoring defense, currently ranks fourth in the FBS in 2013, allowing just 13.2 points per game.

• MSU went a span of 194 minutes and 33 seconds without allowing a touchdown, as the Spartans kept Purdue (Oct. 19), Illinois (Oct. 26) and Michigan (Nov. 2) out of the end zone. Indiana scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Spartans on Oct. 12, and Nebraska snapped the streak with a TD in the first quarter on Nov. 16.

• The Spartans have shut out four of their six Big Ten opponents in the second half (Iowa, Purdue, Illinois, Michigan).

• The Spartans shut out Purdue, 14-0, on Oct. 19 in Spartan Stadium, marking MSU's first Big Ten shutout since 1999 against Northwestern. Under Dantonio, the Spartans have three shutouts (2008 vs. Florida Atlantic, 2011 vs. Florida Atlantic, 2013 vs. Purdue).

• MSU's defense has allowed more than 17 points just twice all season (28 vs. Indiana and Nebraska) and it has given up just 55 points total in the second half of games this season (5.5 pg.).

• 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 10 games in 2013, the Spartans have allowed 16 touchdowns (five rushing, 11 passing), fifth fewest in the FBS.

• Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Michigan State's defense has held 14 opponents (28 percent) to less than 10 points, including four times this season.

TURNOVERS, SACKS THE DIFFERENCE IN 2013 FOR SPARTANS -
• Although Michigan State ranked in the FBS Top 10 in eight statistical categories last season, the Spartans ranked 84th nationally in sacks (20) and 76th in takeaways (20). This season, the Spartans rank 27th in the FBS in sacks (25) and 24th in takeaways (21). In addition, MSU ranks second in the FBS with five defensive touchdowns after not recording any in 2012.

• Michigan State ranks first in the Big Ten and seventh in the FBS in turnover margin (+11, 1.10 per game). The Spartans have forced a total of 21 turnovers (10 fumbles, 11 interceptions), including five for touchdowns (three fumble recoveries, two interception returns). MSU has converted those 21 takeaways into 86 points.

• Michigan State has forced at least one turnover in 71 of 89 games over the last seven seasons (80 percent of the games played since 2007), including nine games this season.

• Michigan State forced five turnovers in the win over Nebraska on Nov. 16, the most caused by the Spartans in the Coach Mark Dantonio era. MSU converted those five turnovers into 24 points.

TRULY ELITE -
• Since 2011, Michigan State's defense has been one of the most consistent in the FBS. 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.

SPARTANS RANK SECOND IN FBS WITH FIVE DEFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS -
• After not scoring any defensive touchdowns in 2012, the Spartans have recorded five this season, which ranks second 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).

THREE-AND-OUT -
• In 10 games this season, the Spartans have forced their opponents to go three-and-out on 57 of 126 possessions (.452 percent; 5.7 per game), which ranks fifth in the nation. The Spartans are forcing an average of 5.70 three-and-outs per game, which ranks ninth 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.]

INSIDE THE NUMBERS -
• Michigan State is 18-9 (.667) in Big Ten road games under Dantonio, including a five-game winning streak and a 12-3 record (.800) since 2010. MSU is 3-0 in conference road games this season (wins at Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska). Dantonio has won at least one road game at every Big Ten stadium.

• A trademark of Mark Dantonio's Michigan State teams has been their ability to produce wins late in the regular season. Under Dantonio, Michigan State has compiled a 16-5 record (.762) in November. His teams have won 10 of the last 12 games in November (3-0 in 2010; 4-0 in 2011; 1-2 in 2012, 2-0 in 2013). 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.

• Michigan State's offensive line has only allowed nine sacks, which ranks first in the Big Ten and ninth fewest in the NCAA FBS.

• The Spartans have tallied 26 plays of 20 yards or more on offense (nine rushing, 17 passing) in their six league games, compared to just 11 (five rushing, six passing) during their four non-conference games.

• Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 44-8 (.846) when leading in time of possession, including a 31-5 record (.861) since 2010. The Spartans lead the NCAA FBS in time of possession (34:56 per game) in 2013. In conference games, that margin improves by more than one minute (35:58 per game).

• Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 48-11 (.814) when outrushing its opponent, including a 32-4 record (.889) since 2010. The Spartans are 20-3 (.870) in games when gaining 200 or more yards under Dantonio.

• Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State has produced a 37-11 record (.771) 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 NCAA 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 24 games have been decided by 10 points or less (MSU record: 5-7).

SCOUTING NORTHWESTERN -
• Northwestern enters Saturday's game with a 4-6 overall record and 0-6 mark in the Big Ten. Although the Wildcats are 0-6 in league play, five of their six conference losses have been by 10 or less points, including two in overtime (Iowa, Michigan) and one on the last play of regulation (Nebraska).

• The Wildcats are led by eighth-year head coach Pat Fitzgerald, who owns a 54-45 record as head coach at Northwestern. Fitzgerald led NU to a 10-3 record last season and a victory in the Gator Bowl over Mississippi State.

• Northwestern leads the Big Ten and ranks third in the FBS with 18 interceptions. The Wildcats are fourth overall in the conference in turnover margin (+5).

• The Wildcats rank sixth in the Big Ten in passing offense (207.3 ypg.), eighth in total offense (391.6 ypg.) and rushing offense (184.3 ypg.), and 10th in the Big Ten in scoring offense (27.1 ppg.).

• Defensively, Northwestern ranks eighth in the Big Ten in scoring defense (26.1 ppg.), ninth in total defense (412.5 ypg.) and rushing defense (165.6 ypg.), and 11th in passing defense (246.9 ypg.).

• Junior Treyvon Green leads the team in rushing with 642 yards (71.3 ypg.) and rushing TDs with eight.

• Northwestern plays two quarterbacks: senior Kain Colter and junior Trevor Siemian. Colter is a dual threat, as he has completed 78 percent of his passes (62-of-80) for 571 yards and four touchdowns while ranking second on the team in rushing with 487 yards and five TDs. Siemian ranks ninth in the Big Ten in passing, averaging 150.2 ypg. while completing 58 percent of his throws (121-of-209) for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.

• Junior Tony Jones leads the Wildcats in receiving with 43 catches for 527 yards and four touchdowns.

• Senior linebacker Damien Proby ranks second in the conference and 35th in the FBS with 91 tackles (9.1 avg.). Junior linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo is tied for the Big Ten lead with four interceptions and ranks second on the team with 84 tackles. Junior safety Ibraheim Campbell also has four picks. Senior defensive lineman Tyler Scott leads the team in sacks (6) and tackles for loss (10).

MSU/NORTHWESTERN SERIES NOTES -
• Saturday's game marks the 54th meeting between Michigan State and Northwestern. The Spartans lead the all-time series, 36-17, including an 18-10 mark in games played in Evanston.

• MSU head coach Mark Dantonio is 4-2 against Northwestern and 3-0 against NU in Evanston. The Spartans have won four straight at Ryan Field, with their last loss arriving in 2001.

WINNINGEST SENIOR CLASS IN MSU HISTORY -
• The 2013 senior class has helped Michigan State to a record of 38-12 (.760) since 2010, including four consecutive winning seasons. The 38 wins are the most by any senior class in the 117-year history of Michigan State football (previous record: 37 wins by 2011 class). The 2013 senior class became the winningest class at MSU with the 41-28 win over Nebraska on Nov. 16.

The Class of 2013 includes: Denicos Allen (Hamilton, Ohio), Max Bullough (Traverse City, Mich.), Henry Conway (Shaker Heights, Ohio), Darqueze Dennard (Dry Branch, Ga.), Denzel Drone (Plant City, Fla.), Kyler Elsworth (Goodrich, Mich.), Danny Folino (East Lansing, Mich.), Fou Fonoti (Lakewood, Calif.), Bennie Fowler (Bloomfield, Mich.), Dan France (North Royalton, Ohio), Derek Hoebing (Vermillion, Ohio), Tyler Hoover (Novi, Mich.), Jairus Jones (Tampa, Fla.), Isaiah Lewis (Indianapolis, Ind.), Andrew Maxwell (Midland, Mich.), Kevin Muma (Troy, Mich.), Micajah Reynolds (Lansing, Mich.) and Blake Treadwell (East Lansing, Mich.).

MSU OFF TO ONE OF ITS BEST STARTS IN PROGRAM HISTORY -
• The Spartans are off to their best 10-game start since 2010, when they also began the season 9-1. In seasons where MSU has played at least 10 games, this marks just the sixth time in program history the Spartans have won at least nine of their first 10 games (1953, 1955, 1965, 1966, 2010, 2013).

NOTABLE WINNING STREAK -
• MSU is off to a 6-0 start in Big Ten play for the first time under seventh-year head coach Mark Dantonio and for just the third time in school history (1965, 1966).

• MSU's six-game conference winning streak ties for the fourth longest in school history and is the longest since MSU won seven straight spanning the 1988-89 seasons.

• The six-game winning streak is also tied for the second longest under Dantonio (eight in 2010, six in 2008).

NOTES FROM THE NEBRASKA GAME -
• With the 41-28 win over Nebraska, Michigan State clinched a share of the Big Ten Legends Division title . . . MSU can earn a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 7 with at least one win in its next two games (at Northwestern, vs. Minnesota), or one more loss by Minnesota (at Wisconsin, at Michigan State) . . . the Spartans won the inaugural Big Ten Legends Division title outright in 2011 with a 7-1 record.

• For the first time in eight meetings, the Spartans defeated Nebraska . . . the Huskers lead the all-time series 7-1, including a 4-1 record in Lincoln . . . the 41 points are the most by a Spartan team against Nebraska in series history.

• Michigan State forced five Nebraska turnovers, the most caused by the Spartans in the Coach Mark Dantonio era (fumble recovery by Shilique Calhoun in first quarter; interception by Kurtis Drummond in first quarter; fumble recovery by Taybor Pepper in first quarter; fumble recovery by Isaiah Lewis in second quarter; fumble recovery by Trae Waynes in fifth quarter) . . . MSU converted those five turnovers into 24 points.

Jeremy Langford produced career highs in carries (32) and rushing yards (151) . . . he scored three touchdowns, including a 37-yarder in the fourth quarter, and now has 13 rushing TDs this season . . . Langford has rushed for more than 100 yards in five straight games; it's the first time a Spartan has rushed for more than 100 yards in five consecutive games since Blake Ezor in 1989 . . . Langford also had a career-high 174 all-purpose yards, as he had four catches for 23 yards . . . Langford's 151 rushing yards marked the second most by a Spartan against Nebraska (record: 188 yards by Le'Veon Bell in 2012).

Tony Lippett recorded a career-high 67 receiving yards on four catches (16.8 avg.) . . . Lippett's 67 receiving yards are the most ever by a Spartan receiver against Nebraska.

Connor Cook completed 15-of-31 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown . . . he is the first Spartan quarterback to win eight of his first nine games as the starting quarterback since Jimmy Raye in 1966 (9-0-1). • Nebraska rushed for 182 yards, becoming the first Spartan opponent to rush for more than 100 yards this season; however, the Huskers, who were ranked No. 14 in the FBS in rushing entering the game, were held below their season average (246.8 ypg).

• Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah rushed for 123 yards on 22 carries, the most by a player against Michigan State this season (previous: Marcus Shaw, South Florida, 94 yards) . . . Abdullah is the first player to rush for more than 100 yards against MSU since Taylor Martinez (Nebraska) ran for 205 last season.

• Nebraska's 28 points equal the most Michigan State has allowed this season (Indiana) and it marks just the second time MSU has allowed a team to score more than 17 points in 2013 . . . the Cornhuskers collected 392 yards of total offense, the most MSU has given up since last year's Nebraska game on Nov. 3, when NU had 473 yards of total offense; the Huskers entered the game averaging 446.0 yards per game.

• Nebraska scored a touchdown on a 32-yard pass from Tommy Armstrong to Sam Burtch with 2:44 left in the first quarter; it marked the first touchdown the Spartans had allowed since Indiana scored a TD in the fourth quarter on Oct. 12.

Mike Sadler placed four of his seven punts inside the 10 . . . he has placed 35 percent of his punts (19 of 54) inside the 10 this season . . . the 19 punts inside the 10 lead the FBS . . . Sadler also ran for a 3-yard gain on a fake field goal in the fourth quarter; with MSU leading 27-21, Michael Geiger lined up to attempt a 45-yard field goal, but Sadler got the first down on the fake, his second rushing first down of the season (26-yard rush on fake punt at Iowa on Oct. 5) . . . three plays later, Connor Cook hit Keith Mumphery for a 27-yard touchdown pass that put MSU up 34-21 with 7:56 left in the game.

• Michigan State converted 11 of its 21 third-down conversions (.524); entering the game, Nebraska ranked third in the FBS in opponent third-down conversions (.271).

• Michigan State snapped Nebraska's seven-game home Big Ten winning streak; the Huskers are now 9-2 at home in Big Ten games, with the only other loss coming to Northwestern in 2011.

• MSU held Nebraska's leading wide receiver, Quincy Enunwa, without a reception for the first time all season . . . Enunwa entered the game with 41 catches for 536 yards and eight TDs.

Michael Geiger connected on both of his field-goal attempts (45 yards, 25 yards) . . . he is now 11-of-12 in field goals this season, and he's made his last nine in a row. • Kurtis Drummond tied his career high with 10 tackles; he also had 10 tackles against Nebraska last season . . . Drummond also recorded an interception, his second of the season and sixth of his career.

• Michigan State held a 38:37-21:23 advantage in time of possession; MSU entered the game No. 2 in the FBS in time of possession (34:32 per game). Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 44-8 (.846) when leading in time of possession, including a 31-5 record (.861) since 2010.

COOK GROWS IN CONFIDENCE AS STARTING QB -
In his nine starts (8-1 record), sophomore quarterback Connor Cook has completed 145-of-245 throws (.592) for 1,641 yards (182.3 per game), 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. Cook is the first Spartan quarterback to win eight of his first nine games as the starting quarterback since Jimmy Raye in 1966 (9-0-1). In Big Ten play, Cook ranks among the conference leaders in touchdown passes (tied for second with 9), passing yards (fourth at 212.0 ypg.), total offense (fifth at 219.8 ypg.) and passing efficiency (eighth with a 132.5 rating). Overall, he ranks tied for sixth in touchdown passes (14), eighth in the Big Ten in total offense (180.4 ypg) and eighth in passing yards (168.3 ypg.).

The 6-foot-4, 218-pound Cook connected on 15-of-31 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown in Michigan State's first-ever win over Nebraska, 41-28, in Lincoln, as the Spartans remained atop the Big Ten Legends Division standings at 6-0. On a third-and-13 play midway through the fourth quarter, he hooked up with Keith Mumphery for a 27-yard scoring play as MSU took a 34-21 lead.

Cook recorded his fifth 200-yard passing game of the season, completing 18-of-33 throws for 252 yards, one touchdown and one interception in MSU's 29-6 win over Michigan. His 14-yard TD strike to Bennie Fowler in the back, right corner of the end zone with 23 seconds left in the first half gave MSU the lead for good at 13-6. Early in the fourth quarter, Cook scored his first career rushing TD on a 1-yard run as MSU built a 22-6 lead.

He completed 15-of-16 throws for 208 yards and three TDs in MSU's 42-3 victory at Illinois. His .938 completion percentage set the school single-game record and marked the seventh-best single-game total in Big Ten history. Cook's 264.8 passing efficiency rating against Illinois ranks as the fifth-best single-game total posted by a quarterback in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision this season. He finished the game with 11-straight completions for 185 yards, including scoring tosses of 29 yards to Fowler, 13 yards to Josiah Price and a career-long 47 yards to Mumphery. It marked the first time a Spartan quarterback had completed 11 passes in a row since Kirk Cousins against Notre Dame in 2011. Cook completed passes to 10 different receivers. He led the Spartans to TDs on six consecutive possessions.

Cook hit 22-of-31 throws for 235 yards, two TDs and an interception in MSU's 42-28 Homecoming victory over Indiana. He threw TD passes of 11 yards to Jeremy Langford and 34 yards to 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 -
Sophomore Macgarrett Kings Jr. leads the Spartans in receptions with 31 for 354 yards. His three touchdown receptions, four 20-yard receptions and 13 third-down catches rank second on the team. Nineteen of his 31 receptions (61 percent) have resulted in either a TD or a first down. He has caught at least one pass in each of MSU's 10 games this season. Over his last eight games, Kings has 27 catches for 316 yards and three scores.

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 leads the team in receiving yards (382), TD catches (5) and 20-yard receptions (7). He ranks tied for second on the team in receptions with 28. Nineteen of his 28 receptions (68 percent) have resulted in either a TD or a first down. Over his last seven games, Fowler has 25 catches for 348 yards and five TDs (Note: He sat out the Purdue game with a hamstring injury.)

He led the team with six receptions for 75 yards in MSU's 29-6 victory over No. 23 Michigan, including a 14-yard TD grab from Cook in the back, right corner of the end zone with 23 seconds left in the first half that gave the Spartans a 13-6 halftime lead. His 25-yard reception on a third-and-12 play early in the fourth quarter set up Cook's 1-yard TD run.

Fowler caught two passes for 40 yards at Illinois, including an acrobatic 29-yard TD grab from Cook with nine seconds left in the first half that gave MSU a 14-3 halftime lead.

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 is tied for second on the team with 28 receptions for 319 yards. Nineteen of his 28 receptions (68 percent) have resulted in a first down, including a team-leading 14 third-down grabs. Over his last six games, Lippett has 24 catches for 278 yards.

He led the team with four catches for a career-best 67 yards at Nebraska, including a season-long 34-yard grab on a third-and-5 play early in the third quarter (drive resulted in a TD).

He had five receptions for 62 yards against Michigan.

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 had a career-high six receptions for 64 yards against Indiana.

TRIO OF BACKS PACE SPARTAN GROUND ATTACK -
Tailbacks Jeremy Langford, Nick Hill and Delton Williams have combined to rush for 1,440 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns.

Jeremy Langford has recorded five-straight 100-yard rushing games and ranks tied for first in the Big Ten with 14 total touchdowns.


Langford, a 6-foot, 206-pound junior, leads the team in rushing attempts (199), rushing yards (926), rushing TDs (13), scoring (90 points) and all-purpose yards (1,001). In conference games, he ranks second in scoring (10.0 points per game) and sixth in the Big Ten in rushing (109.7 yards per game). Overall, Langford ranks among the Big Ten leaders in rushing TDs (first with 13), total TDs (tied for first with 14) and rushing (sixth at 92.6 ypg.). Fifty-six of his 199 carries (28 percent) have resulted in either a TD or a first down.

Langford recorded his fifth-straight 100-yard rushing game, setting career highs for carries (32), rushing yards (151) and rushing touchdowns (3) in Michigan State's 41-28 win at Nebraska, as the Spartans claimed at least a share of the Big Ten Legends Division title. It marks the first time a Spartan back has rushed for more than 100 yards in five consecutive games since Blake Ezor in 1989. Langford scored on runs of 6, 3 and 37 yards. He also accounted for a career-best 174 all-purpose, adding four receptions for 23 yards.

He recorded his four-straight 100-yard rushing game with 26 carries for 120 yards in Michigan State's 29-6 victory over No. 23 Michigan. Langford closed out the scoring with a 40-yard touchdown run with 2:43 left in the fourth quarter, as he carried seven times for 62 yards on MSU's eight-play, 97-yard drive. He became the first 100-yard rusher against the Michigan defense this season.

Langford carried 22 times for 104 yards in MSU's 42-3 win at Illinois, including TD runs of 1 and 7 yards. He ran 24 times for a career-best 131 yards in MSU'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 (56) and rushing yards (291). Eighteen of his 56 carries (32 percent) have resulted in either a TD or a first down.

He gained 70 yards on 13 rushing attempts at Illinois. Hill 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. He 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 223 yards on 34 carries (6.6 avg.).

He rushed five times for 78 yards and a touchdown at Illinois. Williams averaged 15.6 yards on five carries against the Illini and scored his first collegiate TD on a career-long 42-yard run in the fourth quarter.

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 NAMED FINALIST FOR BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY -
Senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard has been named one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded to the top defensive player in college football. Dennard ranks among the Big Ten leaders in interceptions (3), pass break-ups (7) and passes defended (10), and is one of the main reasons why Michigan State leads the Big Ten and ranks second in the FBS in pass efficiency defense (94.4 rating) and fourth in passing defense (171.1 ypg.). The other four finalists are: Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Missouri defensive end Michael Sam. The winner will be announced at the Bronko Nagurski Awards dinner, presented by the Charlotte Touchdown Club, on Monday, Dec. 9 in Charlotte, N.C. Dennard becomes the first Spartan player in school history to be selected as a finalist for the award.

Darqueze Dennard has been named one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (nation's best defensive player).


Dennard is also one of 15 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is awarded annually by the Jim Thorpe Association to the nation's best defensive back. In addition, he was recently named the No. 3 defensive player in the FBS by CBSSports.com.

Dennard, who has accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl, leads the Spartans in passes defended (10), pass break-ups (7) and interceptions (3). He also ranks fifth on the team with 38 tackles, including two for losses (4 yards). The 5-foot-11, 197-pound Dennard ranks fifth on the team in production points with 149. In addition, he ranks tied for seventh in the Big Ten in passes defended (1.0 per game).

Dennard was named a Midseason All-American by CBSSports.com (second team) and Phil Steele (third team), and also was a first-team All-Big Ten Midseason selection by ESPN.com, Phil Steele and BTN.com.

Dennard produced an impressive all-around effort in the win over No. 23 Michigan, as MSU held the Wolverines out of the end zone for the second consecutive season. He picked off a Devin Gardner pass at the 3-yard line in the fourth quarter, and the Spartans proceeded to march 97 yards on an eight-play touchdown drive to seal the 29-6 victory. Dennard also forced a fumble and collected four tackles.

Dennard 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 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.

Dennard is in his third season as a starting cornerback for the Spartans. He has collected 143 tackles and 26 passes defended (17 pass break-ups, nine interceptions) in 40 career games, including 36 starts (25 consecutive).

ALLEN ANCHORS NATION'S TOP DEFENSIVE UNIT -
Fifth-year senior linebacker Denicos Allen leads the Spartan defense in tackles for loss (11.5 for 46 yards) and production points (245). The 5-foot-11, 218-pound Allen also ranks second on the team in tackles (62) and sacks (5 for 34). He has been credited with seven quarterback hurries and 13 QB hits. He was a Midseason All-Big Ten First Team pick by Phil Steele and BTN.com.

Allen, who set season highs for tackles for loss (3 for 20 yards) and sacks (18) in Michigan State's 29-6 victory over No. 23 Michigan, was named Walter Camp Football Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week. He also earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors after matching his season high with nine tackles against the Wolverines.

Michigan State limited the Wolverines to minus-48 yards rushing - the lowest single-game rushing total in U-M history. It also marked the fewest rushing yards allowed by MSU under head coach Mark Dantonio and tied for the third-fewest allowed in school history (school-record minus-63 rushing yards by Pittsburgh in 1960; minus-60 rushing yards by Pittsburgh in 1981; minus-48 rushing yards by Northwestern in 1983). It also marked the fewest rushing yards allowed by an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision team this season. The Spartans recorded season highs in tackles for loss (11 for 65 yards) and sacks (7 for 49). MSU recorded tackles for loss on the last three plays of the third quarter, including 1.5 sacks by Allen.

The Spartans permitted just 12 first downs and 168 total yards against the Wolverines. Michigan gained 51 yards on the game-opening drive and managed just 117 yards on its next 11 possessions. The Wolverines went just 2-of-14 on third-down conversions.

Allen recorded five tackles, with 2.5 resulting in losses (9 yards) including an 8-yard sack, in MSU's 42-3 win at Illinois. The Spartans held the Illini to eight first downs, 25 rushing yards (1.2 yards per carry) and 128 total yards. In the second half, MSU limited Illinois to only one first down and 18 total yards.

Allen registered eight tackles and scored his first career touchdown, returning a fumble 45 yards for a score in the second quarter, in MSU'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 (fourth with 40.5) and sacks (sixth with 19). Allen has started 35 consecutive games at linebacker - the second-longest active streak on the team.

CALHOUN EMERGES AS PLAYMAKER ON D-LINE -
Sophomore defensive end Shilique Calhoun leads the Spartans in quarterback hurries (17), QB hits (27) and sacks (6.5 for 41). Calhoun ranks second on the defense in tackles for loss (11 for 60 yards) and production points (178). He also ranks tied for second in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision with four fumble recoveries, which is tied for fifth most in an MSU single-season. Calhoun has produced a tackle for loss in eight of his last nine games.

Calhoun has been named to the midseason watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award, which is given annually to the nation's top defensive end. He was added to the 2013 Paul Hornung Award Watch List after Week 3, which is awarded to the nation's most versatile player, and was named a Midseason All-American by SI.com (second team) and Phil Steele (second team).

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Calhoun recorded career highs in tackles (6), tackles for loss (3 for 19 yards) and sacks (2.5 for 17) in Michigan State's 29-6 win over No. 23 Michigan. He also was credited with two QB hurries and a career-best seven QB hits.

The Middletown, N.J., native produced three tackles, including 1.5 for losses (8 yards), and forced a fumble in MSU's 42-3 victory at Illinois. Early in the second quarter, he disrupted a reverse in the backfield, tackling Ryan Lankford for a 7-yard lose and forcing a fumble that Marcus Rush recovered at the Illini 23. Four plays later, Jeremy Langford scored on a 1-yard run to give the Spartans the lead for good at 7-3.

Calhoun contributed two tackles, including a 3-yard sack, two QB hurries and three QB hits in MSU'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 10 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 this season.

Max Bullough: MAN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NATION'S TOP DEFENSE -
Senior co-captain and three-year starting middle linebacker Max Bullough ranks among the team's leaders in tackles (third with with 61), quarterback hurries (second with 10), tackles for loss (third with seven) and production points (third with 172). He has been named one of 20 quarterfinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.

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 has led the Spartans in tackles the previous two seasons (89 in 2011; career-high 111 in 2012). He was re-elected as 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).

The Traverse City, Mich., native has 284 career tackles in 50 games, including a team-high 37 consecutive starts. He ranks 15th in MSU history with 28 tackles for loss (95 yards) in his career, including 7.5 sacks (48 yards), and also has 11 passes defended (three interceptions, eight pass break-ups) and four forced fumbles.

SADLER NAMED SEMIFINALIST FOR RAY GUY AWARD -
Junior punter Mike Sadler has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award, which honors the nation's top punter.

An All-America candidate, Sadler has been a valuable weapon on special teams for the Spartans, as he ranks third in the Big Ten and 34th in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in punting with his 42.5-yard average. He leads the FBS with 19 punts downed inside the 10-yard line (35 percent) and ranks tied for second with 26 punts placed inside the 20 (48 percent). Sadler also has had seven punts downed inside the 5, including three at the 1-yard line. In addition, he has 11 punts of 50-plus yards and opponents have collected just 78 punt return yards against the Spartans through 10 games.

Sadler averaged 40.6 yards on seven punts, including four kicks placed inside the 10-yard line, in Michigan State's 41-28 win at Nebraska, as the Spartans claimed at least a share of the Big Ten Legends Division title. His 56-yard punt in the first quarter was fumbled away to the Spartans at the Nebraska 8 and led to MSU's first touchdown. His 35-yard punt in the third quarter was downed by Kurtis Drummond at the Nebraska 1, and Tommy Armstrong Jr. fumbled on the next play, setting up another MSU touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, Sadler ran 3 yards on a fake field goal for a first down to set up Connor Cook's 27-yard touchdown pass to Keith Mumphery.

In the 29-6 victory over Michigan, Sadler placed three of his five punts inside the 20, including two inside the 10. He dropped his only punt at Illinois, a 54-yarder, on the Illini 8-yard line, and placed three of his seven punts inside the 10 against Purdue.

He was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for the third time in his career and also the College Football Performance Awards' National Punter of the Week after averaging a career-best 59.2 yards on four punts in the win over Indiana, including a season-long 69 yarder in the fourth quarter.

Sadler downed four of his seven punts inside the 20 against South Florida, including a career-high four inside the 10 and three inside the 5. Overall against the Bulls, he totaled seven punts for 319 yards (45.6 average).

In the season opener against Western Michigan, Sadler placed a career-high six punts inside the 20 and tied his career high with 11 punts (38.5 avg.; 423 yards).

A native of Grand Rapids, Mich., Sadler is in his third season as Michigan State's starting punter. He owns a career average of 42.4 yards per punt, which ranks sixth in MSU history. He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches as a sophomore in 2012 after leading the conference and ranking 21st in the FBS, averaging 43.3 yards per punt.

Sadler is also in pursuit of his third Academic All-America honor. A two-time Academic All-America Second Team honoree, he was recently named to the College Sports Information Directors (CoSIDA) Academic All-District 5 First Team for the third time in his career, making him eligible for Academic All-America honors this season. Sadler, who graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in applied engineering sciences while maintaining a 3.97 grade-point average, is currently pursuing his Ph.D in economics.

BULLOUGH NAMED TO 2013 NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION SCHOLAR-ATHLETE CLASS -
Senior linebacker Max Bullough, a second-team Academic All-America honoree last season and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, has been named to the 2013 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Class. Based upon his selection, Bullough also becomes one of 16 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the best scholar-athlete in the nation. Each Campbell Trophy finalist will be presented an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship at the 56th annual NFF Awards Dinner, scheduled for Dec. 10 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.

Bullough becomes the sixth NFF National Scholar-Athlete in Michigan State history and the first since quarterback Kirk Cousins earned the honor in 2011. A finance major, Bullough currently owns a 3.56 GPA.

DANTONIO NAMED SEMIFINALIST FOR MAXWELL FOOTBALL CLUB COACH OF THE YEAR -
• Seventh-year head coach Mark Dantonio has been named one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Football Club Coach of the Year.

• Dantonio owns a 60-29 (.674) record at Michigan State. He already ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in career wins (fourth) and winning percentage (fifth).

• Dantonio has four nine-win seasons at Michigan State, the most by any coach in school history (9 in 2008, 11 in 2010, 11 in 2011) . . . "Biggie" Munn (1951, 1952, 1953) and Duffy Daugherty (1955, 1965, 1966) each had three nine-win seasons at MSU.

• A trademark of Mark Dantonio's Michigan State teams has been their ability to produce wins late in the regular season. Under Dantonio, Michigan State has compiled a 16-5 record (.762) in November. His teams have won 10 of the last 12 games in November (3-0 in 2010; 4-0 in 2011; 1-2 in 2012, 2-0 in 2013).

• Michigan State is 18-9 (.667) in Big Ten road games under Dantonio, including a five-game winning streak and a 12-3 record (.800) since 2010. MSU is 3-0 in conference road games this season (wins at Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska). Dantonio has won at least one road game at every Big Ten stadium.

• 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).

• 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 Mark Dantonio, Michigan State has produced a 37-11 record (.771) in home games, including a 15-game winning streak (7-0 in 2010, 7-0 in 2011, won first game in 2012). The Spartans have won 22 of their last 27 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).

• Dantonio was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2010 after leading the Spartans to a share of the Big Ten Championship and a school-record 11 wins. He was also selected the National Coach of the Year by Rivals.com, Scout.com and CBSSports.com, and was named a finalist for the Paul "Bear" Bryant, Eddie Robinson and Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year Awards. In 2008, Dantonio was named one of 15 finalists for the George Munger Coach of the Year Award after leading MSU to a 9-3 regular-season mark.