Football Media Center: Penn State
Nov. 24, 2010
RADIO: The Spartan Sports Network, featuring veteran play-by-play announcer George Blaha, color analyst Jim Miller, sideline reporter Jason Strayhorn and broadcast host Will Tieman, will broadcast the game to 32 affiliates throughout the state. Michigan State football broadcasts can be heard on flagship stations WJIM (AM 1240)/WMMQ (FM 94.9) in Lansing and WJR Radio (AM 760) in Detroit. The MSU-Penn State game also can be heard live nationally on Compass Media Networks, with Drew Bontadelli and Brian Baldinger calling the action.
Since the renewal of the series in 1993, the winner of the Michigan State-Penn State game has been presented the Land-Grant Trophy. The trophy honors the two universities' unique places in history as the two pioneer land-grant schools in the nation. Each institution was founded in 1855, Michigan State on Feb. 12 and Penn State on Feb. 22. The schools were the prototypes after which the land-grant system was patterned. Since 1993, Penn State leads the series 13-4.
Michigan State is ranked No. 11 and No. 10, respectively, in the latest Associated Press and USA TODAY Polls. The Spartans have earned a Top 25 ranking for 10 consecutive weeks.
The Spartans are ranked No. 10 in the latest Bowl Championship Series Standings, released Sunday, Nov. 21. MSU stood No. 5 in Oct. 24 standings, its highest ranking ever in the BCS.
At 6-1, the Spartans enter the final weekend of the regular season in a three-way tie (with Ohio State and Wisconsin) for first place in the Big Ten standings. Michigan State is attempting to claim at least a share of its seventh Big Ten Championship and its first since 1990.
With their 35-31 come-from-behind victory over Purdue in the home finale, the 2010 Spartans became just the third team in school history to reach the 10-win milestone, joining the 1965 and 1999 teams.
Michigan State's first 11 opponents comprise the nation's 33rd-most difficult schedule, according to NCAA figures. The Spartans' past opponents have a combined record of 50-41 (.549) against other Bowl Subdivision teams. By comparison, Big Ten co-leaders Ohio State (52-49, .515) and Wisconsin (42-47, .472) rank No. 55 and No. 75, respectively, in strength of schedule.
Seventeen seniors will play in their final Big Ten game Saturday at Penn State. This senior class has helped Michigan State to a combined record of 32-18 (.640), including four straight postseason bowl appearances (2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl and 2011 TBD). The 32 wins are the most ever recorded by a senior class in MSU's 114-year football history (previous record: 31 by Class of 1990).
Mark Dantonio has been named one of eight finalists for the 2010 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). Dantonio is the first coach in Michigan State history to win at least nine games twice in his first four seasons. Dantonio now has 32 victories in his first four seasons at MSU, which is the most by any Spartan head coach in his first four years (Chester Brewer ranks second, with 30 wins from 1903-06).
A trademark of Mark Dantonio's Michigan State teams has been their ability to produce wins late in the regular season. Under Dantonio, the Spartans are 8-3 (.727) in games played in November. In the four seasons (2003-06) prior to his arrival, Michigan State went just 2-11 (.154) FIRST-AND-10 (continued) - in November. The last time the Spartans posted a perfect record in November came in 1999 when Michigan State closed out the regular season with three straight victories (over Ohio State, Northwestern and Penn State).
UPON FURTHER REVIEW -
Fifth-year senior linebacker Eric Gordon made his 47th career start against Purdue, tying the school record set by former Spartan tight end Chris Baker (1998-2001). In addition, he has started more games at linebacker than any player in MSU history (previous record holder: Dan Bass, 44 career starts from 1976-79). Gordon reached double-figure tackles for the second time in 2010 and sixth time in his career, posting a season-best 12 stops against the Boilermakers. He also moved passed Shane Bullough (1983-86) and Carlos Jenkins (1987-90) into 15th place on MSU's all-time list with 321 career tackles.
Junior Kirk Cousins threw for 276 yards and accounted for four touchdowns to help Michigan State rally from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit for a 35-31 victory over Purdue. Cousins recorded his seventh 200-yard passing game of the season, completing 28-of-37 throws for 276 yards, three TDs and one interception. His three TD passes matched his career high. He completed scoring strikes of 24 and 9 yards to Mark Dell and 5 yards to B.J. Cunningham. Cousins completed passes to 10 different receivers. His first career rushing TD, a 3-yard scramble up the middle with 4:32 left in the fourth quarter, proved to be the game winner.
Senior Mark Dell has recorded career highs in receptions (49), receiving yards (761) and touchdown catches (6). In Big Ten games, Dell ranks second in the conference in both receptions (5.6 per game) and receiving yards (84.1 per game). He recorded his second 100-yard receiving game of the season and the fourth of his career, with eight receptions for 108 yards and two scores against Purdue. His two TD receptions equaled his career high (vs. Northwestern, 2010).
Sophomore Edwin Baker leads the team in carries (167), rushing yards (1,069) and rushing touchdowns (12). With 16 carries for 90 yards against Purdue, Baker became just the sixth sophomore in MSU history to reach the 1,000-yard rushing milestone, joining Lorenzo White (1985), Tico Duckett (1990), Marc Renaud (1995), Sedrick Irvin (1996) and T.J. Duckett (2000).
Senior Aaron Bates currently ranks second in the Big Ten and No. 13 in the NCAA in punting with his 45.1-yard average. Bates is listed among MSU's all-time leaders in punts (second at 249), punting yards (second at 10,417), and punting average (seventh at 41.8). He has placed 81 of his 249 career punts (33 percent) inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Bates ranks third in both punts and punting yards among all active NCAA FBS punters.
Michigan State ranks among the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision leaders in scoring defense (No. 23 allowing 19.9 points per game), rushing defense (No. 23 allowing 125.4 yards per game), turnover margin (tied for 23rd at +0.64 per game), takeaways (tied for 26th with 23), pass efficiency defense (No. 28 with a 116.4 rating), and total defense (No. 28 allowing 332.5 ypg.). By comparison, the Spartans totaled only 14 takeaways during the entire 2009 season. MSU's defense did not allowed a 100-yard rusher until Game 11 against Purdue (Keith Carlos: six rushes for 103 yards and one touchdown).
With its 35-31 come-from-behind win over Purdue, Michigan State completed its first-ever 7-0 home season and its first undefeated home season since going 6-0 in 1999. The Spartans have gone undefeated at home 17 times since the stadium opened in 1923.
With two picks in the home finale against Purdue, Michigan State has recorded 16 interceptions in 2010 - its highest season total since recording 17 in 2004. The 16 interceptions rank third in the Big Ten and No. 12 (tied) in the NCAA FBS. The Spartans had just six interceptions in 13 games last season.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS -
Michigan State's receiving corps features two career 1,000-yard receivers: senior Mark Dell (131 for 2,109) and junior B.J. Cunningham (136 for 1,747). That duo has combined for 267 receptions, 3,856 yards and 23 career touchdowns. Their numbers rank among the best in Michigan State history: Dell is sixth all-time in receiving yards and ninth in receptions, while Cunningham is fourth in receptions and 14th in receiving yards.
Michigan State is a second-half team, outscoring its opponents, 177-104, in the second half and overtime (+73). In the fourth quarter alone, MSU has outscored its opponents by 47 points, 92-45. In Big Ten games, the Spartans have outscored their opponents, 120-56, in the second half (+64).
The Spartans have rallied to win three games after trailing in the fourth quarter against Notre Dame, Northwestern and Purdue. MSU pulled even at 28 against the Irish with 7:43 left in the fourth quarter and won it in overtime, 34-31, as holder Aaron Bates threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to tight end Charlie Gantt off a fake field-goal attempt. The Spartans scored 21 fourth-quarter points to erase a 17-point deficit at Northwestern, and MSU overcame a 15-point deficit against Purdue by scoring a season-high 22 points in the fourth quarter.
Michigan State has scored at least 30 points in a school-record nine games this season.
Michigan State ranks fourth in the Big Ten and No. 10 in the NCAA FBS in fourth-down conversions (73 percent/11-of-15). The Spartans have scored four touchdowns on fourth-down attempts (Charlie Gantt 29-yard reception from Kirk Cousins vs. Notre Dame; B.J. Cunningham 1-yard reception from Cousins vs. Wisconsin; and Edwin Baker two 1-yard runs vs. Minnesota).
Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten and No. 13 (tied) in the NCAA FBS in red-zone defense, allowing opponents score on 73 percent of their trips inside the Spartan 20-yard line (27-of-37, including 19 touchdowns and eight field goals).
Michigan State's defense has allowed only 11 gains of 30-plus yards from scrimmage (combined rushing and passing plays plus kickoff and punt returns) this season. That total ranks among the fewest allowed in the NCAA FBS (tied for No. 10).
With his first career punt return for a score against Wisconsin, Keshawn Martin has accounted for touchdowns in five different ways during his career (rushing, receiving, passing, punt return and kickoff return) and joins Florida International's T.Y. Hilton and Troy's Jerrel Jernigan as the only active players in the NCAA FBS that have accomplished that feat.
Eric Smith NAMED HONORARY CAPTAIN -
The 6-1, 202-pound Smith led the team in tackles (101 total) and production points (204) in 2005 and ranked second in interceptions (2 for 16 yards). He ranked sixth in the Big Ten in tackles, averaging 9.2 per game. Smith, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches, posted double figures in tackles five times in 2005, including 13 stops each vs. Notre Dame and Northwestern, 12 vs. Minnesota and 11 each vs. Michigan and Indiana. He became just the 15th player in Spartan history to reach the 300-tackle milestone with six stops vs. Purdue. Smith also scored the first touchdown of his career against the Boilermakers, returning a fumble 65 yards in the second quarter to give the Spartans a 21-14 halftime lead.
A four-year letterman, Smith earned 36 career starts, including the last 22 in a row, and served as a co-captain his senior year. The Groveport, Ohio, native produced double figures in tackles 13 times. His career totals include 10.5 tackles for losses (32 yards), including four sacks (23 yards), and four interceptions (99 yards).
Smith was drafted in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft (No. 97 overall) by the New York Jets and has spent his entire five-year professional career in New York. Smith, who has played in 65 career games, recorded a career-high 48 tackles last season and has compiled 33 stops in 10 games this season as the Jets are 8-2 and tied for the AFC East lead with New England. Smith and the Jets play Cincinnati Thanksgiving night (Nov. 25).
ALL-AMERICAN JONES: A MODEL OF CONSISTENCY -
The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Jones has been selected Midseason First-Team All-America by SI.com, CBSSports.com, Phil Steele, CollegeFootballNews.com, Rivals.com, Heisman Pundit and BleacherReport.com.
A model of consistency, he has led the team in tackles in 30 of the last 37 games. Jones is attempting to become only the second player in MSU history to lead the Spartans in tackles for four straight seasons (linebacker Dan Bass, 1976-79).
In MSU's 35-31 come-from-behind victory over Purdue, Jones registered eight tackles, a pass break-up and pressured Rob Henry into throwing an interception on a fourth-and-8 play from the Spartan 20-yard line with less than a minute remaining.
In MSU's 31-8 win over Minnesota, he recorded nine tackles, including 2.5 for losses (3 yards), as the Spartans limited the Golden Gophers to 267 total yards. The second-year captain also made nine stops each in back-to-back road games against Northwestern and Iowa.
Jones, who posted a season-high 14 stops in a 26-6 Homecoming victory over Illinois, has been named National Defensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation as well as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He recorded double-figure tackles for the second time this season and for the 20th time his career. Jones also was credited with a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry. Michigan State limited the Illini to 114 rushing yards - 103 yards below its season average. Trailing 6-3 at halftime, the Spartan defense shut out the Illini in the second half while forcing three turnovers (four takeaways in the game). It marked the first time since a 31-3 win over Indiana on Oct. 4, 2003, that MSU didn't allow a touchdown in a Big Ten game.
Jones posted five tackles in MSU's 34-17 victory at No. 18 Michigan, as the Spartan defense held the Wolverines to season lows in points (17), rushing yards (162) and total yards (377).
He recorded eight tackles, including a season-best three for losses, in No. 24 MSU's 34-24 victory over No. 11 Wisconsin. The Spartan defense held Wisconsin to 165 rushing yards - nearly 93 yards below its season average. The Badgers entered the game ranked second in the Big Ten and No. 10 in the NCAA FBS in rushing, averaging 257.5 yards per game.
Jones, who recorded two interceptions, four tackles and forced a fumble in MSU's 45-7 victory over Northern Colorado, was named Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week. Jones recorded the first two interceptions of his career against the Bears, with both leading to MSU scores. His 34-yard return in the first quarter set up Edwin Baker's 5-yard TD run, while his second-quarter pick set up Le'Veon Bell's second TD run.
He tallied nine tackles in MSU's 34-31 overtime victory over Notre Dame, including a 6-yard sack. Jones recorded 11 tackles and forced a fumble in MSU's 30-17 victory over Florida Atlantic at Ford Field.
The Cincinnati, Ohio, native has started 44 of 50 career games, including 38 consecutive starting assignments (tied for team high with linebacker Eric Gordon). He has 454 career tackles, including 44.5 for losses (158 yards) and 16.5 sacks (93 yards). Jones ranks among the FBS active leaders in total tackles (second), tackles per game (sixth at 9.1) and tackles for loss (tied for sixth). He also ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in tackles for loss (second), total tackles (third) and sacks (sixth).
COUSINS HEATS UP IN THE SECOND HALF -
The 6-foot-3, 202-pound Cousins plays his best when the game is on the line, as his 172.1 second-half passing efficiency rating ranks No. 10 among all NCAA FBS quarterbacks, according to cfbstats.com. In the second half (22 quarters and overtime), he has connected on 70 percent (92-of-131) of his throws for 1,267 yards, 10 TDs and three interceptions.
Cousins recorded his seventh 200-yard passing game of the season, completing 28-of-37 throws for 276 yards, three TDs and one interception as Michigan State rallied from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit for a 35-31 victory over Purdue. He completed passes to 10 different receivers, and his three TD passes equaled his career high. In the second half against the Boilermakers, Cousins completed 16-of-24 throws for 171 yards, including fourth-quarter scoring strikes of 5 yards to B.J. Cunningham and 9 yards to Mark Dell. His first career rushing TD, a 3-yard scramble up the middle with 4:32 left, proved to be the game winner.
With 198 passing yards at Iowa (21-of-29), Cousins became just the eighth quarterback in MSU history to eclipse the 5,000-yard career milestone. In the second half against the Hawkeyes, he connected on 9-of-14 passes for 108 yards, including a 6-yard TD toss to Cunningham early in the fourth quarter. It marked his 16th consecutive game with at least one TD pass, tying the school record set by Drew Stanton in 2005-06.
During one stretch, Cousins recorded six-straight 200-yard passing games (270.0 ypg.): against Notre Dame (245), Northern Colorado (290), Wisconsin (269), Michigan (284), Illinois (201) and Northwestern (season high 331).
Cousins was selected Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after completing 29-of-43 throws for 331 yards and three TDs as MSU rallied from a 17-point deficit to remain unbeaten at 8-0 with a 35-27 victory at Northwestern. He posted career highs in pass completions (43), pass attempts (43) and TD passes (3 - tied). Cousins completed scoring passes of 7 and 15 yards to Dell and 9 yards to Cunningham. He completed 17-of-23 passes for 201 yards and two TDs in the second half. Cousins connected on 7-of-8 throws for 98 yards on MSU's game-winning drive (11 plays, 88 yards), including a 9-yard scoring strike to Cunningham with 2:00 left that gave the Spartans their first lead at 28-27.
In a 26-6 Homecoming win over Illinois, Cousins connected on 7-of-12 passes for 128 yards in the second half, including a 48-yard TD strike to Cunningham that gave MSU its first lead at 13-6 with 8:26 left in the third quarter.
In MSU's 34-17 victory at No. 18 Michigan, he completed 7-of-10 second-half throws for 157 yards, including a 41-yard bomb to Dell early in the third quarter gave the Spartans a 24-10 lead.
In MSU's 34-24 victory over No. 11 Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener, Cousins hit 8-of-10 passes for 118 yards and two scores in the second half. His 8-yard TD toss to tight end Charlie Gantt on third-and-goal capped a six-play, 51-yard drive, and his 1-yard scoring strike to Cunningham on fourth-and-goal finished off a 15-play, 84-yard drive that took 8:03 off the clock and iced the game.
In MSU's 34-31 overtime victory over Notre Dame, Cousins went 12-for-12 for 129 yards in the second half, including a 24-yard TD strike to Cunningham that tied the score at 28 with 7:43 left in the fourth quarter.
BAKER REACHES 1,000-YARD RUSHING MILESTONE -
The 5-foot-9, 208-pound Baker ranks fourth in the Big Ten and No. 22 in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing, averaging 97.2 yards per game. He has led the Spartans in rushing in seven of the first 11 games. Forty-five of his 167 carries (27 percent) have resulted in either a first down or a score, including 10 gains of 20 or more yards. He ranks No. 11 among all NCAA FBS rushers in yards gained on first down (99 attempts for 674 yards, 6.8 yards per carry), according to cfbstats.com.
Baker carried 27 times for 179 yards and four TDs to lead MSU to a 31-8 victory over Minnesota. He recorded his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season, as he set career highs in carries (27) and rushing TDs (4). He gained 118 yards on 14 attempts in the first half, including a 30-yard scoring run in the first quarter and a pair of 1-yard TD runs on fourth-and-goal plays in the second quarter, as MSU built a 21-0 halftime lead. Baker added another 1-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring. His 179 rushing yards mark the fifth-best single-game total by a Spartan running back against Minnesota.
At Northwestern, Baker rushed 10 times for 73 yards, including a 25-yard TD run around left end with 1:07 left in the fourth quarter that helped seal MSU's 35-27 come-from-behind win.
In MSU's 34-17 victory at No. 18 Michigan, Baker carried 22 times for 147 yards, including a 61-yard TD run early in the second quarter that gave the Spartans a 7-3 lead. In the fourth quarter, he carried the ball 10-straight times for 49 yards, as MSU took the final 5:41 off the clock.
Baker opened the 2010 season with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games: 117 yards and two TDs against Western Michigan and a career-best 183 yards against Florida Atlantic, including a career-long 80-yard TD run. He gained 90 yards on 14 attempts against Notre Dame, including a 56-yard TD run in the third quarter, and picked up a team-high 87 yards on 18 rushes against No. 11 Wisconsin.
2010 CAPTAINS ELECTED -
An additional captain will be selected each week during the 2010 season (fifth-year senior defensive end Colin Neely vs. Penn State).
In 2009, Cousins became only the second sophomore in school history to be named captain, joining center Robert McCurry who was selected in 1949. In addition, McCurry is MSU's only three-time captain (1946-47-48).
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