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No. 16 Spartans Look to Finish Regular Season Strong at Rutgers

Nov. 21, 2017

Game 12: No. 16 Michigan State (8-3, 6-2 B1G) at Rutgers (4-7, 3-5 B1G)
 Date | Time Saturday, Nov. 25 | 4:12 p.m.
 Location Piscataway, N.J.
High Point Solutions Stadium (52,454/FieldTurf)
 Television FOX
 Broadcast Team Brian Custer (play-by-play) | Ben Leber (analyst) | Jen Hale (sideline)
 Mobile/Internet Coverage FOX Sports Go | Gametracker
 Radio Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live) | Affiliates
 Satellite Radio Ch. 974 (SiriusXM.com)
 Radio (Mobile) Broadcast available on Spartan Sports Network Mobile App: iPhone/iPad | Android
 Parking/Tailgating/Stadium Information Rutgers Gameday Website
 Tickets Available at scarletknights.com
 Game Notes Michigan State | Rutgers
 Series Information MSU leads, 5-3
 Social Media @MSU_Football | Facebook

FIRST-AND-10 -
• No. 16 Michigan State will look to close out the regular season with nine victories as the Spartans travel to Rutgers on Saturday, Nov. 25. MSU improved to 8-3 (6-2 Big Ten) with a 17-7 victory over Maryland on Senior Day last Saturday at Spartan Stadium, while the Scarlet Knights (4-7, 3-5) were shut out at Indiana, 41-0. The game, which is being broadcast nationally on FOX, will begin at 4:12 p.m. EST from High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey.

• Saturday's game marks the ninth meeting between Michigan State and Rutgers. The Spartans lead the overall series, 5-3, including a 3-0 mark in Big Ten play. The Spartans are 2-1 in games played in Piscataway. In its only trip to Rutgers for a Big Ten game, MSU defeated the Scarlet Knights, 31-24, on Oct. 10, 2015. Last season, the Spartans shut out Rutgers, 49-0, on Nov. 12, 2016, in East Lansing.

• In its 121-year football history, Michigan State has won at least nine games in a season 15 times, including six under 11th-year head coach Mark Dantonio, the most under any Spartan coach. MSU is looking to win its ninth game in the regular season for the 13th time, including the seventh under Dantonio. The Spartans claimed Rose Bowl wins during the 1953, 1955 and 1987 seasons in picking up their ninth victory.

• Junior running back LJ Scott moved into 12th place on MSU's all-time rushing yards list after collecting 147 yards on a career-high 29 carries in the win over Maryland. Scott ranks 12th at MSU with 2,424 rushing yards, tied for 13th in rushing touchdowns (24) and 14th in carries (494).

• Sophomore defensive end Kenny Willekes tied his career high with two sacks and three tackles for loss against the Terrapins last Saturday. Willekes, a former walk-on, ranks tied for second (7; 0.64 pg) in the Big Ten in sacks and third in tackles for loss (14.5; 1.32 pg). He has been named to the final ballot for the Ted Hendricks Award, given annually to the nation's best defensive end.

• According to the NCAA, MSU has played the eighth-toughest schedule to date in the FBS (opposition with a 65-41 record; .613). The Spartans have played three teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25, including a victory over No. 12 Penn State.

• Michigan State 11th-year head coach Mark Dantonio is 4-1 in his coaching career against Rutgers (3-0 at MSU). Dantonio went 1-1 against Rutgers during his three seasons at Cincinnati (2004-06), including a 30-11 upset win over the seventh-ranked Scarlet Knights in 2006.

• A trademark of Mark Dantonio's Michigan State teams has been their ability to produce wins late in the season. Under Dantonio, Michigan State has compiled a 27-11 record (.711) in November. His teams have won 21 of the last 29 games in November (3-0 in 2010; 4-0 in 2011; 1-2 in 2012; 4-0 in 2013; 3-1 in 2014; 3-1 in 2015; 1-3 in 2016; 2-1 in 2017). During MSU's three Big Ten Championship seasons (2010, 2013, 2015) under Dantonio, MSU was 10-1 in November. MSU is 7-3 under Dantonio in the final game of the regular season (all three losses to Penn State).

• Following its 17-7 win over Maryland last week, Michigan State moved up one spot to No. 16 in this week's College Football Playoff rankings, the CFP committee announced Tuesday night. The Spartans have been ranked in all four CFP rankings this fall. Since the CFP first started in 2014, Michigan State has appeared in the rankings 17 times, third most in the Big Ten and tied for ninth most in the FBS.

• Now in his 11th season as head coach of the Spartans, Mark Dantonio owns a 98-45 (.685) record. He has been named one of 16 semifinalists for the George Munger College Coach of the Year, presented by the Maxwell Football Club. Dantonio has won the most Big Ten Championships (three) and bowl games (four) of any Spartan head coach and also ranks first with nine bowl appearances. He is the only active Big Ten coach to win multiple Big Ten Championships (2010, 2013, 2015), claim a victory in the Rose Bowl (2014), and coach in the College Football Playoff (2015). The second-winningest coach in school history with 98 victories, trailing only Hall of Famer Duffy Daugherty (109), Dantonio also ranks first in program history in conference winning percentage (.663, 59-30 record, minimum 10 games), second in Big Ten wins (59), home wins (59) and AP Top 25 victories (19), tied for second in AP Top 25 finishes (six), and fifth in overall winning percentage (.685).

COACHES:
Michigan State:
Head Coach: Mark Dantonio
MSU Record: 98-46 (11th year)
Overall Record: 116-62 (14th year)
Record vs. Rutgers: 4-1 (3-0 at MSU)

Rutgers:
Head Coach: Chris Ash
Rutgers Record: 6-17 (second year)
Overall Record: 6-17 (second year)
Record vs. MSU: 1-0

STAT LEADERS --
Michigan State:
Rushing -- LJ Scott (164 carries for 731 yards, 4.5 avg, 6 TDs)
Passing -- Brian Lewerke (212-of-365, .581, 2,358 yards, 16 TDs, 7 INTs)
Receiving -- Felton Davis III (45 catches for 586 yards, 13.0 avg., 8 TDs)
Tackles -- Joe Bachie (92 tackles, 41 solo, 51 assists, 8.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 FR, 2 INTs, 1 PBU)

Rutgers:
Rushing -- Gus Edwards (160 carries for 703 yards, 4.4 avg, 6 TDs)
Passing -- Kyle Bolin (73-of-133 for 711 yards, 3 TDs, 6 INTs)
Receiving -- Jerome Washington (27 catches for 273 yards, 10.1 avg, 1 TD)
Tackles -- Trevor Morris (97 tackles, 39 solo, 58 assists, 3.5 TFLs, 0.5 sacks, 1 PBU)

A QUICK GLANCE AT RUTGERS (4-7, 3-5 B1G) --
• The Scarlet Knights are 4-7 overall and 3-5 in Big Ten action, currently on a two-game losing streak after losing at Indiana, 41-0, last Saturday. Indiana bolted out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.

• In Big Ten play, Rutgers has beaten Illinois (35-24), Purdue (14-12) and Maryland (31-24), while losing to Nebraska (27-17), No. 11 Ohio State (56-0), Michigan (35-14), No. 16 Penn State (35-6) and Indiana (41-0).

• The Spartans are the Scarlet Knights' third opponent from Michigan, having played at Michigan (L, 35-14 on Oct. 28) while hosting Eastern Michigan (L, 16-13 on Sept. 9).

• Rutgers was held to 190 yards of total offense in last Saturday's loss to Indiana, with 103 passing and 87 rushing. The Scarlet Knight defense yielded 503 yards of total offense to the Hoosiers, with 267 rushing and 236 passing. RU junior quarterback Giovanni Rescigno was 8-of-14 passing for 67 yards and was sacked four times, while freshman quarterback Johnathan Lewis was 3-of-10 for 36 yards. Lewis also led the rushing attack with six carries for 36 yards. Freshman wide receiver Bo Melton had a team-high 31 yards on two catches. Junior linebacker Trevor Morris posted a game-best 16 tackles, including one TFL.

• Rutgers head coach Chris Ash is 6-17 in his second season leading the Scarlet Knights.

• The Scarlet Knights are 13th in the B1G in scoring offense (19.0 ppg), while ranking 10th in scoring defense (27.3 ppg).

• Rutgers is 14th in the conference in total offense (276.4 ypg), ranking sixth in rushing offense (159.2 ypg) and 14th in passing offense (117.2 ypg). Defensively, RU is 11th in total defense (395.6 ypg), ranking 10th in both rushing defense (179.4 ypg) and passing defense (224.1 ypg).

• The Scarlet Knights are fourth in the Big Ten and 27th in the FBS in interceptions with 12, led by three each by junior safety Kiy Hester and sophomore safety Juwaun Harris, with Hester tallying 95 interception return yards. Hester is also fourth in the conference and 19th in the country in passes defended with 1.3 per game, with 10 pass break-ups to go with the three INTs.

• Morris leads the RU defense with 97 total tackles, ranking fourth in the league and 36th in the nation with 8.8 tackles per game.

• Rutgers has had two different starting quarterbacks, with senior Kyle Bolin making five starts in playing in seven games, passing for 711 yards (101.6 ypg) on 73-of-133 with six interceptions and three touchdowns. Rescigno has played in eight games with six starts and is 47-of-97 for 517 yards (64.6 ypg) with one INT and two TDs. Lewis hasn't started but has played in six games, with 8-of-22 passing for 69 yards (11.5 ypg) with two INTs and one TD.

• Senior running back Gus Edwards leads the Rutgers rushing attack with 160 carries for 703 yards (63.9 ypg/4.4 ypc) with six TDs.

• Junior tight end Jerome Washington has a team-high 27 catches for 273 yards (24.8 ypg/10.1 ypc) with one TD.

• Senior punter Ryan Andersen leads the Big Ten and is 13th in FBS in punting with a 44.6 ypp average with a long of 70 yards, one of 27 punts of 50+ yards.

• Senior placekicker Andrew Harte is 26-of-26 on PATs and 7-of-10 on FGs with a long of 50 yards.

MSU/RUTGERS SERIES NOTES --
• Saturday's game marks the ninth meeting between Michigan State and Rutgers. The Spartans lead the overall series, 5-3, including a 3-0 mark in Big Ten play.

• The Spartans are 2-1 in games played in Piscataway. In its only trip to Rutgers for a Big Ten game, MSU defeated the Scarlet Knights, 31-24, on Oct. 10, 2015.

• Last season, the Spartans shut out Rutgers, 49-0, on Nov. 12, 2016, in East Lansing.

• Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is 4-1 in his coaching career against Rutgers (3-0 at MSU). Dantonio went 1-1 against Rutgers during his three seasons at Cincinnati (2004-06), including a 30-11 upset win over the seventh-ranked Scarlet Knights in 2006.

SPARTANS FROM THE GARDEN STATE --
• Michigan State has two players on its 2017 roster from New Jersey: redshirt freshman wide receiver Cam Chambers (Sicklerville/Timber Creek Regional High School) and junior defensive tackle Gerald Owens (Thorofare/West Deptford High School).

THE LAST MEETING --
Nov. 12, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP): Tyler O'Connor threw three touchdown passes in the first half as Michigan State shut out Rutgers, 49-0.

The Spartans raced out to a 35-0 halftime lead. LJ Scott ran for 103 of his 122 yards in the first half, and Demetrious Cox returned an interception for a touchdown.

Rutgers never made it farther than the Michigan State 27-yard line - and on that drive in the second quarter, the Scarlet Knights ended up punting from the 30. The Spartans drove 92 yards the other way and took a 28-0 lead on a 4-yard touchdown pass from O'Connor to Josiah Price.

Price caught two touchdown passes, including a 2-yarder that opened the scoring in the first quarter. Cox made it 14-0 with a 30-yard interception return, and O'Connor added a 50-yard touchdown pass to Trishton Jackson later in the first.

POST-GAME NOTES FROM THE MARYLAND GAME --
• Michigan State won its eighth game of the season with a 17-7 victory over Maryland . . . the Spartans lead the overall series against the Terrapins, 7-2, including a 5-1 record in East Lansing . . . MSU is 3-1 against Maryland in Big Ten games.

• Dantonio improved to 98-45 as head coach of the Spartans . . . this marks the seventh eight-win season for Michigan State under Dantonio, the most of any coach in school history.

• The game was played in a heavy rain in the first half and constant snow flurries in the second half.

OFFENSE
• Michigan State ran for 271 yards on the ground, the second-highest total in a game this season (296 vs. Western Michigan).

LJ Scott ran for 147 yards on a career-high 29 carries . . . the 147 yards were the most by a Spartan against Maryland (previous: 138 by Jeremy Langford in 2014) . . . it marked the third-most rushing yards in a single game in Scott's career (194 vs. Minnesota in 2017; 160 vs. Ohio State in 2016) . . . it also marked Scott's second 100-yard rushing game of the season and eighth of his career.

Brian Lewerke rushed for 63 yards on just five carries (12.6 avg.) . . . it marked the most rushing yards by Lewerke since he had a season-high 81 vs. Western Michigan on Sept. 9 . . . Lewerke rushed for a 25-yard score in the second quarter for his fourth rushing TD of the season.

Gerald Holmes had a season-high 64 yards rushing and tied his season high with 11 carries.

• MSU had just 20 yards passing, the fewest by the Spartans in a single game since Oct. 3, 1987, when the Spartans had 13 yards passing in a 19-14 win at Iowa (2-for-10) . . . MSU also completed just two passes in the game (2-for-14), the fewest in a single game since 1988 (1-of-9 passing at Florida State on Sept. 24, 1988).

DEFENSE
• The Spartans held Maryland to 204 yards of total offense, 121 passing yards and 83 rushing yards. The 204 yards of total offense and 121 passing yards are the fewest by a Spartan Big Ten opponent this season.

• Michigan State has held seven of its 11 opponents under 100 yards rushing (Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, Northwestern, Maryland).

Joe Bachie recorded double-digit tackles for the fifth time this season with a team-high 11 tackles.

Kenny Willekes tied his career high with two sacks (8 yards) and three tackles for loss (11 yards) . . . he had nine tackles overall . . . Willekes has seven sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss on the season, both team highs.

Justin Layne recorded a career-best three pass break-ups and has seven pass break-ups in the last three games . . . he also had five tackles.

• The Spartans recorded four sacks and eight tackles for loss.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Matt Coghlin connected on a 27-yard field goal in the third quarter to give MSU a 17-0 lead . . . Coghlin has made four consecutive field goals and is 11-for-15 on the season.

SENIOR CLASS SAYS GOODBYE TO SPARTAN STADIUM --
• Michigan State recognized 15 players in a pregame ceremony on Senior Day vs. Maryland on Nov. 18: OL Brian Allen (Hinsdale, Ill.), DE Demetrius Cooper (Chicago, Ill.), OT Dennis Finley (Detroit, Mich.), LB Chris Frey (Upper Arlington, Ohio), LB Sean Harrington (Commerce Township, Mich.), RB Gerald Holmes (Flint, Mich.), LB Shane Jones (Cincinnati, Ohio), TE Hussien Kadry (Dearborn, Mich.), WR Brock Makaric (Saginaw, Mich.), OL Nick Padla (Berrien Springs, Mich.), FB Joe Palange (Cleveland, Ohio), PK Brett Scanlon (Dowagiac, Mich.), OG Jeremy Schram (White Lake, Mich.), OG Casey Schreiner (Bethel Park, Pa.) and QB Damion Terry (Erie, Pa.).

• The 2017 Senior Class has helped Michigan State to a 34-16 record since 2014, including two bowl berths (2015 Cotton Bowl, 2015 College Football Playoff Semifinal at Cotton Bowl) and one Big Ten Championship (2015). The 34 wins rank seventh most by a senior class in school history.

SPARTANS LOOKING FOR A NINE-WIN REGULAR SEASON --
• In its 121-year football history, Michigan State has won at least nine games in a season 15 times (1905, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1965, 1966, 1987, 1999, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015), including six under 11th-year head coach Mark Dantonio, the most under any Spartan coach. MSU is looking to win its ninth game in the regular season for the 13th time, including the seventh under Dantonio. The Spartans claimed Rose Bowl wins during the 1953, 1955 and 1987 seasons in picking up their ninth victory.

MSU ALSO LOOKING FOR SEVENTH BIG TEN WIN --
• MSU is also looking to win its seventh Big Ten game for the 10th time since officially joining the league for conference play in 1953 (six-game Big Ten schedule from 1953-64; seven-game from 1965-70; eight-game from 1971-80; nine-game from 1981-84; eight-game from 1985-2015; back to nine games beginning in 2016).

• Dantonio led the Spartans to a school-record eight Big Ten wins in 2013 before winning the Big Ten Championship Game over Ohio State. He also recorded seven conference wins in 2010 (7-1), 2011 (7-1), 2014 (7-1) and 2015 (7-1).

• The Spartans went 7-0 in back-to-back seasons in 1965 and 1966 to win Big Ten Conference titles. MSU also went 7-1 in 1978 and 7-0-1 in 1987 en route to conference crowns.

SPARTANS HAVE PLAYED EIGHTH-TOUGHEST SCHEDULE IN FBS --
• According to the NCAA, MSU has played the eighth-toughest schedule to date in the FBS (opposition with a 65-41 record; .613). The Spartans have played three teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25, including a victory over No. 12 Penn State.

BOWLING ONCE AGAIN --
• With the victory over Indiana on Oct. 21, Michigan State became bowl eligible for the 10th time in 11 seasons under Mark Dantonio. The Spartans made a school-record nine consecutive bowl trips from 2007-15 before missing out on the postseason in 2016.

SPARTANS RANKED IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF TOP 25 FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT WEEK -
• Following its 17-7 win over Maryland last week, Michigan State moved up one spot to No. 16 in this week's College Football Playoff rankings. The Spartans have been ranked in all four CFP rankings this fall.

• After its win over No. 7 Penn State on Nov. 4, Michigan State made the biggest one-week jump in the four-year history of the College Football Playoff rankings by moving up 12 spots from No. 24 to No. 12.

• Since the CFP first started in 2014, Michigan State has appeared in the rankings 17 times, third most in the Big Ten and tied for ninth most in the FBS. The Spartans were ranked in every CFP poll in 2014 and 2015 before missing out on the rankings in 2016. MSU finished No. 8 in the final 2014 CFP rankings and No. 3 in 2015.

SPARTANS RANKED FOR SEVENTH CONSECUTIVE WEEK IN AP POLL --
• Michigan State remains ranked in The Associated Press Poll for the seventh consecutive week, sitting at No. 21 in the current poll. MSU moved up one spot following its 17-7 win over Maryland.

• Michigan State entered the national polls for the first time this season on Oct. 8 following its 14-10 win at No. 7 Michigan. The Spartans debuted at No. 21 in The Associated Press Poll and No. 22 in the Amway Coaches Poll. It marked the first time MSU was ranked since Sept. 25, 2016, when the Spartans were ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll and No. 16 in the Coaches Poll. At that time, MSU had been ranked for a school-record 46 consecutive weeks, spanning back to Oct. 27, 2013. For 33 of those 46 weeks, MSU had been ranked in the Top 10.

• Michigan State is 58-17 (.773) as a ranked team in the AP Poll under Dantonio.

• As a ranked team, Michigan State has only lost to an unranked opponent four times under Dantonio (41-4; at Notre Dame, 2011; at Nebraska, 2015; at Indiana, 2016; at Northwestern, 2017).

PLAYING THROUGH THE ELEMENTS --
• Michigan State has experienced two weather delays in games this season and four of its eight Big Ten games have been played in heavy rain or snow.

• On Oct. 7 at No. 7 Michigan, a majority of the second half was played in a torrential downpour as the Spartans came away with the 14-10 victory.

• The next week at Minnesota, the start of the game was delayed 44 minutes due to lightning in MSU's 30-27 win over the Gophers, but most of the night game was played in rain and temperatures in the low-40s.

• Against No. 7 Penn State on Nov. 4 in East Lansing, the game was delayed for three hours and 22 minutes at the 9:38 mark in the second quarter due to severe weather. The delay started at 1:15 p.m. and play resumed at 4:37 p.m. The game started at 12:05 p.m. and ended at 7:03 p.m. on Matt Coghlin's game-winning 34-yard field goal as time expired in the 27-24 MSU win over the Nittany Lions.

• In MSU's home finale vs. Maryland on Nov. 18, the first quarter was played in a steady rain before the temperatures cooled and heavy snow flurries moved into the East Lansing area for the remainder of the contest. The game also featured steady winds all afternoon.

BALL CONTROL --
• Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten and third in the FBS in time of possession (34:03). The Spartans have led in time of possession in 10 games this season and have led in time of possession in 66 percent of games under Mark Dantonio; the Spartans owns an .811 winning percentage (77-18) in those games.

Brian Lewerke PROVING TO BE A DUAL-THREAT QUARTERBACK --
• In his first full year as the starting quarterback, sophomore Brian Lewerke ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 41st in the FBS in total offense, averaging 259.3 yards per game (214.4 passing ypg, 39.4 rushing ypg). He led the Spartans in rushing through the first five games of the season and still ranks second among Big Ten quarterbacks in rushing, averaging 39.4 ypg (Ohio State's J.T. Barrett is first, averaging 55.0 ypg). Lewerke also ranks among the Big Ten leaders in passing (fifth at 214.4 ypg) and passing touchdowns (sixth with 16).

• The 6-3, 212-pound Lewerke is 212-of-365 passing (.581) for 2,358 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 11 games this season. He has played in 15 career games (13 starts; 8-5 record).

• Lewerke ranks seventh in MSU single-season history with 2,791 yards of total offense. He needs just 41 more yards to record the most yards of total offense by a Michigan State sophomore (Connor Cook, 2013, 2,831 yards).

• A week after setting numerous school records at Northwestern on Oct. 28, Lewerke had another impressive game against Penn State on Nov. 4, becoming the first Spartan quarterback to throw for 400 yards in back-to-back games. He threw for a school-record 445 yards at Northwestern, and for 400 against Penn State; the 400 yards tied for the second-most yards by a Spartan QB in a single game (Bill Burke with 400 in win over Michigan in 1999). Lewerke became one of just three Big Ten quarterbacks in the last 20 years to throw for 400 yards in two consecutive games (Drew Brees, Purdue, 1998; C.J. Bacher, Northwestern, 2007).

• Lewerke finished the Penn State game 33-of-56 passing, including 9-of-14 for 156 yards on third down. He completed six passes of 20-plus yards. Lewerke also had 425 yards of total offense, second in school history behind only his 475 at Northwestern.

• Lewerke set school single-game records for passing yards (445), total offense (475) and completions (39) in the triple-overtime loss at Northwestern on Oct. 28. His 57 passing attempts also marked a career high and tied for the second most in school history (record: 61 by Brian Hoyer vs. Penn State in 2006); MSU's previous single-game records were 400 passing yards (Bill Burke vs. Michigan, 1999), 416 yards of total offense (Connor Cook vs. Indiana, 2015) and 35 completions (Jeff Smoker vs. Ohio State, 2003). Lewerke also threw a career-high four touchdowns against the Wildcats, tied for the second most in school history (accomplished 13 previous times). On MSU's 12-play, 88-yard game-tying touchdown drive at the end of the fourth quarter, Lewerke was 10-of-11 for 88 yards on the drive, capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass to Felton Davis III. Lewerke's 445 yards passing and 475 total yards against Northwestern are both the most by a Big Ten quarterback in a single game this season.

• Lewerke had 396 yards of total offense (340 passing, 56 rushing) vs. Notre Dame on Sept. 23, the sixth-highest single-game total in the school record book. He also threw for 340 yards against the Irish.

• Lewerke's 433 rushing yards are seventh most by a Spartan quarterback in a single season. He also has four rushing touchdowns this season. Lewerke has led the Spartans in rushing four times (69 yards vs. Bowling Green; career-high 81 vs. Western Michigan; 42 vs. Iowa; 61 vs. Michigan). He also had 63 yards vs. Maryland and and 56 yards vs. Notre Dame.

• Lewerke ran for a career-high 81 yards against Western Michigan on Sept. 9, the most by a Spartan quarterback since Drew Stanton had 83 against Purdue in Nov. 4, 2006.

• Lewerke scored his first career rushing touchdown on a 61-yard run in the first quarter vs. WMU, the longest TD run by a Spartan quarterback since Charlie Baggett ran for a 69-yard score on Oct. 27, 1973, vs. Purdue. It tied the longest rush by a Spartan QB since Damon Dowdell also had a 61-yard run against Wisconsin on Nov. 13, 2004; the last time a Spartan QB had a longer run was Bobby McAllister at Purdue (70 yards) on Nov. 5, 1988.

• Lewerke also had a 1-yard TD run in the third quarter vs. WMU to become the first Spartan QB to record two rushing TDs in a single game since Drew Stanton in 2006 against Eastern Michigan (Sept. 9). He finished with 242 yards of total offense against the Broncos, as he was 13-of-21 passing for 161 yards and one touchdown.

• The native of Phoenix, Arizona, recorded his first career win as a starting quarterback in the season-opening victory over Bowling Green while recording then-career highs in passing yards (250), completions (22), attempts (33), passing touchdowns (3) and total offense (319 yards) against the Falcons. Lewerke also rushed eight times for 69 yards.

• Lewerke played in four games and started twice (Northwestern, Maryland) as a redshirt freshman in 2016 before suffering a season-ending injury (broken tibia) in the fourth quarter of the Michigan game on Oct. 28. He bounced back quickly from the injury and fully participated in all of spring practice.

• Last season, Lewerke became the first Spartan freshman quarterback to start a game (Northwestern) since 2004 (Stephen Reaves vs. Central Michigan).

• In 15 career games, Lewerke has completed 58 percent of his passes (243-for-422) for 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has 582 rushing yards on 119 carries (38.8 ypg; 4.9 avg.).

RUNNING GAME KEY FOR SPARTANS UNDER DANTONIO --
• Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 80-17 (.825) when outrushing its opponent, including a 64-10 record (.865) since 2010. Conversely, MSU is 18-28 (.391) under Dantonio when being outgained on the ground by its opponent. The Spartans are 37-6 (.860) in games when gaining 200 or more rushing yards under Dantonio.

LJ Scott LEADS RUSHING ATTACK --
• Junior LJ Scott leads the Spartans in rushing with 731 yards on 164 carries (4.5 avg.). He ranks ninth in the Big Ten with 73.1 rushing yards per game.

• The 6-1, 230-pound Scott is one of 18 Spartan running backs in school history to rush for more than 2,000 career yards. He eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark during the Minnesota game and currently ranks 12th in the MSU record book with 2,424 rushing yards.

• Scott has two 100-yard rushing games this season (career-high 194 at Minnesota on Oct. 14; 147 vs. Maryland on Nov. 18) and eight for his career.

• Scott also has a career-high 17 receptions for 107 yards (6.3 avg.) to lead the team in all-purpose yards with 838 (83.8 ypg).

• In 36 career games, including 16 starts, the Hubbard, Ohio, product has rushed for 2,424 yards (67.3 ypg; 4.9 avg.) and 23 touchdowns. Scott ranks 12th in MSU history in rushing yards (2,424), tied for 13th in rushing touchdowns (23), and 14th in carries (494). His 1,693 rushing yards ranked No. 5 in school history for a player through their sophomore season (Lorenzo White: 2,682 yards in 1984 and 1985).

• Scott posted career highs in rushing yards (194) and carries (25) to lead the Spartans past Minnesota on Oct. 14. Scott also tied his career high with two rushing TDs (24 yards in second quarter; 6 yards in fourth quarter). He became the first Spartan to record a 100-yard rushing game this season. Scott's previous career high was 160 yards vs. No. 2 Ohio State on Nov. 19, 2016. The 194 yards by Scott were the most rushing yards by a Spartan since the last time MSU played at Minnesota in 2012, when Le'Veon Bell had 266 yards rushing on 35 carries; it was also the fifth most rushing yards by a Spartan against Minnesota. Scott also had a season-high 220 all-purpose yards at Minnesota (one catch for 26 yards).

• Last season, Scott led the Spartans in nearly every rushing category, compiling career highs in rushing yards (994), carries (184) and rushing touchdowns (6). His 82.8 rushing yards per game average ranked eighth in the Big Ten during the regular season and his 86.9 ypg in conference play was sixth best. Scott's 994 rushing yards were seventh most by a Spartan sophomore in a single season. He also had five 100-yard games, tied for third most in the Big Ten in the regular season, including four of the last six games (109.7 ypg last six games).

Gerald Holmes, Madre London ALSO BRING EXPERIENCE TO THE BACKFIELD --
• In addition to LJ Scott, senior Gerald Holmes and junior Madre London bring significant experience and will see their share of carries in the backfield. Holmes has rushed for 1,241 yards on 279 carries in 37 career games, including 14 starts, while London has 217 carries for 885 career yards in 31 games with eight starts. The trio of Holmes, London and Scott own a combined total of 4,550 rushing yards on 990 carries with 43 rushing touchdowns.

Brian Allen NAMED SEMIFINALIST FOR NFF SCHOLAR-ATHLETE CLASS --
• Senior center and All-America candidate Brian Allen was a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is widely known as the "Academic Heisman." Allen was also a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Class.

• A two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Allen is an economics major with a 3.24 GPA. He was voted a captain by his teammates entering his senior season and has started a team-best 26 consecutive games.

• For his career, Allen has played in 49 career games, including a team-high 36 starts (16 at left guard, 15 at center, five at right guard). He has been named second-team All-Big Ten the past two seasons and is on watch lists for the Outland Trophy (nation's most outstanding interior lineman) and Rimington Trophy (nation's most outstanding center). Allen was named midseason All-Big Ten by The Athletic and has been named to the Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week four times (vs. Bowling Green, Notre Dame, Northwestern and Ohio State).

• This marks the sixth time in the past seven years that the Spartans have had a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy. The Spartans had a finalist three of four years from 2011-14 (QB Kirk Cousins in 2011, LB Max Bullough in 2013, P Mike Sadler in 2014). Center Jack Allen (2015) and tight end Josiah Price (2016) were semifinalists the past two seasons.

Felton Davis III LEADS YOUNG RECEIVING CORPS --
• Junior wide receiver Felton Davis III is the veteran of a receiving corps that features one junior (Davis), two sophomores (Trishton Jackson, Darrell Stewart), one redshirt freshmen (Cam Chambers) and three true freshmen (Laress Nelson, Hunter Rison, Cody White) in its regular rotation.

• The 6-4, 195-pound native of Richmond, Virginia, leads the Spartans in receptions (45), receiving yards (586) and touchdown catches (8), all of which are career highs and rank among the Big Ten leaders (tied for first in TD catches with eight; 10th in receptions at 4.1 pg; ninth in receiving yards at 53.3 ypg). Thirty-four of his 45 receptions (76 percent) have been for either a first down or a touchdown. Davis' career-high eight TD catches are also tied for 25th in the FBS.

• Davis recorded career highs in catches (12) and receiving yards (181) in the win over No. 7 Penn State on Nov. 4. The 12 catches tied for fourth most in a single game by a Spartan, and the 181 receiving yards were 13th most by a Spartan in a game. The 12 catches matched his season total from last year. Davis had a diving 33-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter that tied the game at 14, his team-leading eighth of the season.

• Davis was named the Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week after recording then-career highs in catches (9) and receiving yards (114) in the Sept. 30 win over Iowa. Davis also tied his career high with two touchdown catches. In the first half alone, Davis had seven receptions for 88 yards. On the first play from scrimmage, Davis had a 31-yard reception to set up his first TD catch later in the drive, a 22-yard scoring strike from Brian Lewerke. Davis also had a 6-yard TD reception later in the first quarter.

• Davis III finished with eight receptions for 95 yards at Northwestern and tied his career high with two touchdowns (13 yards to tie the game with 25 seconds left in the game; 6 yards in first overtime)

• In 30 career games, Davis is MSU's active leader in receptions (59), receiving yards (786) and TD catches (9).

PLENTY OF TARGETS ON OFFENSE FOR THE SPARTANS --
• Fifteen different Spartans have caught at least one pass this season for the Spartans, including seven with at least double-figure receptions or more.

• Sophomore Darrell Stewart ranks second on the team in catches (43), receiving yards (450; 40.9 ypg) and all-purpose yards (762; 69.3 ypg). He leads the team with 13 explosive plays (20 yards or more), including six kick returns, five receptions and two rushes. Stewart set career highs in receptions (11) and receiving yards (98) at Northwestern on Oct. 28, and his 11 catches tied for the seventh most by an MSU player in a single game. The Houston, Texas, native was one of 10 Spartans to help volunteer with the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts during the bye weekend (Sept. 15-17) in Houston.

• Freshman Cody White, who has started the last four games, ranks third on the team in catches (30) and receiving yards (407). White was named the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week after setting a Spartan freshman single-game record with 165 receiving yards at Northwestern on Oct. 28. That total was also the 20th-most overall by an MSU player in a single game and the third most by a Spartan against Northwestern. White had a career-high nine catches against the Wildcats, including six for first downs with two touchdown catches. He caught a season-long 60-yard pass in the first quarter on the opening series of the game, the longest pass play of the season for the Spartans, to set up his first career touchdown catch on a 6-yard reception later in the same drive. A native of Novi, Michigan, the 6-3, 206-pound White also had a 45-yard reception on third-and-18 in the fourth quarter. He started his first career game against the Wildcats.

• Freshman Hunter Rison has 18 receptions for 223 yards; the 18 receptions rank fifth on the team, while the 223 receiving yards ranks fourth. Eleven of his 18 catches have resulted in a first down, including two key first downs late in the fourth quarter vs. Indiana on Oct. 21.

SPARTAN DEFENSE ONCE AGAIN ONE OF THE NATION'S BEST --

• The Spartans also rank among the FBS Top 25 leaders in rushing defense (seventh), total defense (16th), pass efficiency defense (19th) and third-down defense (24th at .331).

STOPPING THE RUN --
• Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten and seventh in the FBS in rushing defense (109.2 ypg).

• MSU has held seven opponents under 100 yards rushing this season (Bowling Green had 67 in season opener on Sept. 2; Iowa had 19 on Sept. 30; Minnesota had 74 on Oct. 14; Indiana had 95 on Oct. 21; Northwestern had 64 on Oct. 28; No. 7 Penn State had 65 on Nov. 4; Maryland had 83 on Nov. 18), and No. 7 Michigan had just 102 yards on Oct. 7.

• Michigan State has allowed just seven rushes of 20-plus yards, tied for fifth fewest in the FBS, and just 30 rushes of 10-plus yards, which is tied for tied for fourth fewest (Alabama: 24; San Diego State, 24; Wisconsin, 29).

• MSU held Iowa to just 19 rushing yards, the fewest by the Hawkeyes against the Spartans since 1999 (7 yards) . . . the 19 rushing yards were also the fewest by an Iowa team since Sept. 24, 2005 (-9 against Ohio State) . . . MSU's defense now has two of Iowa's five lowest single-game rushing totals since 2005, as the Spartans limited Iowa to 23 yards on Oct. 5, 2013.

• Stopping the run has been the main theme for MSU on defense in the Dantonio era, and it led to ranking No. 1 in the NCAA FBS in rushing defense in 2014 (88.5 ypg). Since the Big Ten began awarding stat champions in all games in 1985, Michigan State (2011-14) became only the second team in conference history to lead the league in rushing defense four years in a row (Michigan, 1990-93). MSU's 88.5 rushing yards allowed in 2014 was the eighth-lowest total in school history. The Spartans have ranked in the Top 25 in rushing defense six times in the last eight seasons, including a run of five straight years in the top 11 (2011-15). MSU is currently ranked No. 7 in the FBS in rushing defense (109.2 ypg).

• In 143 games under Dantonio, Michigan State has held its opponent under 100 yards rushing 70 times (49 percent). MSU is 61-9 (.871) in those games, including a 51-4 (.927) record since 2010.

Joe Bachie LEADS SPARTAN DEFENSE IN TACKLES AND PRODUCTION POINTS --
Joe Bachie has started all 11 games at middle linebacker for the Spartans and leads the team in tackles (92; 8.4 avg.), which ranks fifth in the Big Ten. In addition, he ranks second on the team in tackles for loss (8.5 for 29 yards) and third in sacks (3.5 for 16 yards). He also leads the team in production points with 274. He was named to the midseason All-Big Ten Team by The Athletic.

• Bachie has been named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week twice this season. Following his career-best 13-tackle performance vs. Indiana on Oct. 21, Bachie shared conference player of the week honors. He also had 1.5 tackles for loss, including a 1-yard sack, and a forced fumble against the Hoosiers.

• The 6-2, 233-pound Bachie has led the Spartans in tackles seven times this season, including double-digit stops in five games (career-high 13 vs. Indiana; 11 vs. Maryland; 11 against Western Michigan; 10 vs. Michigan and Bowling Green).

• Bachie was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after helping lead the Spartan defense to an impressive performance in the 14-10 win at No. 7 Michigan on Oct. 7 in Ann Arbor. He recorded double-digits in tackles for the third time of the season, tying a team high with 10 stops against the Wolverines, and had an 11-yard sack in the second quarter. He compiled a career-high 40 production points.

• According to STATS, Bachie became just the second Big Ten linebacker and fifth in the FBS in the last five years (since 2012) to record double-digit tackles (10) and at least one interception, one forced fumble, one sack and one pass break-up in the same game.

• He forced a fumble on Michigan's second offensive series in the first quarter, giving MSU excellent field position at the Michigan 46-yard line. The Spartans capitalized with a six-play, 46-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 14-yard TD run by Brian Lewerke, giving the Spartans a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

• Bachie was at it again in the second half, as he recorded his first career interception on the second play of the fourth quarter. He was also credited with a pass break-up on the game's final play as Michigan attempted a Hail Mary pass in the end zone. The Spartans held Michigan to 10 points, tied for the lowest total in the Jim Harbaugh era at UM, and just 102 yards rushing.

• Bachie had 38 production points vs. Iowa on Sept. 30 in which he led MSU in tackles (9) and tackles for loss (3.5) to go along with a 3-yard sack and fumble recovery in the red zone.

• Bachie sat out the first six games of the season last year, but had his redshirt removed at Maryland on Oct. 22 and played the final six contests in 2016. He has 104 career tackles in 17 career games.

• The Brook Park, Ohio, native emerged as a leader during the offseason and was voted to the team's Eagles Leadership Council in the spring and again in the fall.

FROM WALK-ON TO LEADING THE TEAM IN TACKLES FOR LOSS AND SACKS --
• Sophomore defensive end Kenny Willekes, who entered the program as a walk-on for the 2015 season, has emerged as a force on the defensive line for the Spartans. Willekes earned a scholarship this past spring and hasn't looked back since. The native of Rockford, Michigan, has started 10 games at defensive end and leads the team in tackles for loss (14.5 for 42 yards) and sacks (7.0 for 28 yards). Willekes played in just one game as a redshirt freshman in 2016.

• Willekes ranks tied for second in the Big Ten in sacks (7; 0.64 pg) and third in tackles for loss (14.5; 1.32 pg).

• Willekes has been named to the final ballot for the Ted Hendricks Award, given annually to the nation's best defensive end.

• Willekes recorded two sacks each against Michigan (Oct. 7), Minnesota (Oct. 14) and Maryland (Nov. 18).

• He leads the defensive line and ranks fourth on the team with 67 tackles. He also has two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and seven quarterback hurries. He ranks second on the team with 157 production points.

SPARTANS INCREASING THE PRESSURE ON THE QUARTERBACK IN 2017 --
• A year after recording just 11 sacks, fewest in the Big Ten, the Spartans have surpassed that total through 10 games in 2017 with 26. Kenny Willekes leads the team with seven sacks.

• MSU recorded four sacks each against Western Michigan (Sept. 9), No. 7 Michigan (Oct. 7) and Maryland (Nov. 18), and had three apiece against Iowa on Sept. 30 and Minnesota on Oct. 14.

KEEPING OPPONENTS OUT OF THE END ZONE --

• MSU has held opponents to just 29 trips inside the red zone, second fewest in the Big Ten and tied for 17th fewest in the FBS.

Mark Dantonio NAMED SEMIFINALIST FOR GEORGE MUNGER COACH OF THE YEAR --
• Now in his 11th season as head coach of the Spartans, Mark Dantonio owns a 98-45 (.685) record. He has been named one of 16 semifinalists for the George Munger College Coach of the Year, presented by the Maxwell Football Club. Dantonio has won the most Big Ten Championships (three) and bowl games (four) of any Spartan head coach and also ranks first with nine bowl appearances. He is the only active Big Ten coach to win multiple Big Ten Championships (2010, 2013, 2015), claim a victory in the Rose Bowl (2014), and coach in the College Football Playoff (2015). The second-winningest coach in school history with 98 victories, trailing only Hall of Famer Duffy Daugherty (109), Dantonio also ranks first in program history in conference winning percentage (.663, 59-30 record, minimum 10 games), second in Big Ten wins (59), home wins (59) and AP Top 25 victories (19), tied for second in AP Top 25 finishes (six), and fifth in overall winning percentage (.685).

• Dantonio won his 71st game at MSU on Oct. 25, 2014, against Michigan to move into second place all-time in victories in school history (record: Duffy Daugherty, 109). Dantonio won his 100th career game as a head coach on Oct. 17, 2015, at Michigan Stadium as the Spartans rallied to defeat the Wolverines, 27-23, on a 38-yard fumble return as time expired. His career record stands at 116-62 (.652) in his 14th season.

• Dantonio's .663 winning percentage (59-30) in Big Ten games ranks first in MSU history (minimum 10 Big Ten games). He ranks second in school history in conference wins (Duffy Daugherty, 72).

NOVEMBER IS FOR CONTENDERS --
• A trademark of Mark Dantonio's Michigan State teams has been their ability to produce wins late in the season. Under Dantonio, Michigan State has compiled a 27-11 record (.711) in November. His teams have won 21 of the last 29 games in November (3-0 in 2010; 4-0 in 2011; 1-2 in 2012; 4-0 in 2013; 3-1 in 2014; 3-1 in 2015; 1-3 in 2016; 2-1 in 2017). During MSU's three Big Ten Championship seasons (2010, 2013, 2015) under Dantonio, MSU was 10-1 in November. MSU is 7-3 under Dantonio in the final game of the regular season (all three losses to Penn State).

SPARTAN FOOTBALL PROGRAM NOTES -
• Michigan State is in the midst of its second-winningest decade in school history. The Spartans are 76-28 (.731) since 2010 and during that span, MSU has claimed three Big Ten Championships (2010, 2013, 2015) and three Big Ten Division titles (2011, 2013, 2015). In addition, the Spartans recorded a school-record four consecutive bowl victories (2012 Outback against No. 18 Georgia, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings against TCU, 2014 Rose Bowl Game against No. 5 Stanford, 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic against No. 4 Baylor), which also tied a Big Ten record. MSU was the only school to finish in the top-six of the national polls from 2013-15 (No. 3 in 2013, No. 5 in 2014, No. 6 in 2015).

• The 76 wins this decade are tied for second most in the Big Ten and tied for 11th most in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, while the 47 wins since 2013 are third in the Big Ten and tied for ninth most in the FBS. The 36 wins from 2013-15 marked the winningest three-year stretch in the history of the program. MSU's highest winning percentage by decade is currently the 1950s (.766, 70-21-1 record).

• The Spartans have had sustained success in the Big Ten Conference under Dantonio. MSU has won two of the past four Big Ten Championships (2013, 2015) and three overall this decade, also claiming a championship in 2010. The Spartans own victories in 32 of their last 44 games against Big Ten opponents (including the Big Ten Championship Game), dating back to the 2012 regular-season finale, including 20 wins by double-figures.

Brian Lewerke AND Raequan Williams NAMED GAME CAPTAINS AGAINST RUTGERS --
• Sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke and sophomore defensive tackle Raequan Williams will be the Eagles to rotate as game captains vs. Rutgers on Saturday. In order for all of the Eagles to serve as game captains twice, team captain Chris Frey didn't walk out to midfield for the Western Michigan game, and Brian Allen didn't walk out to midfield for the Minnesota game. Lewerke also served as a game captain vs. Iowa, and Williams was a game captain at Northwestern.


 

 

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