No. 11 Spartans Travel to Northwestern in Regular-Season Finale
Nov. 25, 2011
FIRST-AND-10 (what you need to know about the MSU-Northwestern matchup) -
Michigan State has clinched the Big Ten Legends Division title and has secured a spot in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game Dec. 3. The Spartans are 6-1 in Big Ten play, one game ahead of Michigan at 5-2; MSU defeated the Wolverines on Oct. 15, 28-14. MSU assured itself of playing in the Big Ten Championship game with a 55-3 win over Indiana last Saturday coupled with Nebraska's 45-17 loss at Michigan.
The Spartans are ranked No. 14 in the latest Bowl Championship Series Standings, released Sunday, Nov. 20. In the USA TODAY Poll, MSU is ranked 10th, while the Spartans are 11th in The Associated Press Poll. MSU has been ranked in the USA TODAY Poll for 26 consecutive weeks, the longest streak for the program since the national newspaper began administering the poll in 1991.
The 2011 senior class has helped Michigan State to a record of 35-15 (.700) since 2008, including three straight bowl bids (2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl) and a fourth appearance to be determined following the regular season. The 35 wins are the most by any senior class in the 115-year history of Michigan State football (previous record: 33 wins by 2010 class). The 2011 class is also the first to defeat Michigan four straight years since 1959-62 and finished with a home record of 24-4 (.857).
Michigan State has won 20 of its last 24 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season, including a 13-2 record in Big Ten play. The 20 wins over the last two seasons is the highest two-year total in school history. In addition, MSU has won at least nine games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1965-66.
Michigan State leads the Big Ten and is tied for ninth in the FBS with 16 interceptions. The Spartans have recorded an interception in 10 of their 11 games this season. Junior safety Isaiah Lewis and senior safety Trenton Robinson both lead the Big Ten and rank tied for 18th in the nation with four interceptions. Lewis is also one of just nine players in the FBS to return two interceptions for touchdowns this season. Five other Spartans have recorded interceptions in 2011: Johnny Adams (3), Kurtis Drummond (2), Max Bullough (1), Darqueze Dennard (1) and Denzel Drone (1). The Spartans have returned three interceptions for scores this season (Lewis: vs. Central Michigan and Michigan; Adams vs. Indiana).
Michigan State leads the Big Ten in total defense (257.3 ypg.) and rushing defense (101.2 ypg). In addition, the Spartans rank among the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Top 20 in six different statistical categories: third in total defense, fourth in pass defense (156.1 ypg.), fifth in pass efficiency defense (99.7 rating), fifth in scoring defense (15.3 points per game), 10th in rushing defense and 16th in sacks (2.8 per game).
Through seven Big Ten games, the Spartans have recorded 52 tackles for loss, including a league-best 27 sacks. MSU's nine sacks at Ohio State tied a school record and also ranks tied for first in a single game this season in the FBS.
MSU has won 23 Big Ten games over the past four years, second in the conference only to Ohio State (24).
Michigan State has recorded more than 400 yards of total offense in three straight games (402 vs. Minnesota; 443 vs. Iowa; 470 vs. Indiana). During MSU's current three-game winning streak, the Spartans are averaging 41.0 points and 438.3 total yards per game. In addition, Cousins has completed 57-of-88 throws (.648) for 828 yards (276.0 ypg.), eight TDs and no interceptions in the last three games.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS -
MSU has won 14 straight games in Spartan Stadium - its longest home streak since winning 19 straight from 1950-53 (teams coached by Clarence "Biggie" Munn). The 14-game home winning streak is the fifth longest in school history (school-record 23-game home winning streak from 1903-07; teams coached by Chester Brewer); it's also tied for the third-longest active home winning streak in the FBS (LSU: 16; Wisconsin: 15: MSU, Northern Illinois, Auburn: 14).
Michigan State went 7-0 at home in back-to-back seasons, marking the first consecutive perfect home seasons since 1955-56. The Spartans have gone undefeated at home 18 times (including ties in 1966, 1940, 1933, 1930) since the stadium opened in 1923.
Michigan State has been a strong first-half team, outscoring its opponents, 208-85 (+123). In the second quarter alone, MSU has outscored its opponents by 106 points, 132-26.
The Spartans have only allowed their opponents 25 trips into the red zone this season, which is tied for second fewest in the Big Ten and tied for the seventh fewest trips permitted in the NCAA FBS.
The Spartan defense has allowed only three gains of 40-plus yards from scrimmage in 2011 - tied for the third-fewest surrendered by an NCAA FBS team. The Spartans have also allowed only 31 gains of 20-plus yards (tied for ninth in the FBS) and 10 of 30-plus yards (tied for sixth in the FBS).
Kirk Cousins tied a school record with his 23rd career 200-yard passing game after throwing for 272 yards in the win over Indiana. Cousins also tied his career high with three touchdown passes and now has 60 for his career, just one shy of tying the school record (61 by Jeff Smoker).
The winningest quarterback in Spartan history, Cousins owns a 25-11 (.694) record as a starter at MSU. He is 20-4 the last two seasons.
Cousins has connected on 61-of-102 third-down throws (.598) for 770 yards, with 39 of those completions resulting in first downs and eight for touchdowns.
Left guard Joel Foreman made his 46th career start in the home finale vs. Indiana. Foreman has started more games than any offensive lineman in Spartan history (previous record: 44 starts by Shane Hannah, 1991-94, and Tony Mandarich, 1985-88).
Junior cornerback Johnny Adams is fifth in the Big Ten with three interceptions and leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth in the FBS with 141 interception return yards; that total also ranks third most in an MSU single-season. Adams, who leads all active Spartans with 25 passes defended in his career (eight interceptions, 17 pass break-ups), ranks fourth in MSU history with 219 interception return yards. His 86-yard interception return for a touchdown against Indiana was the fourth-longest in school history.
Sophomore defensive end William Gholston led the Spartans in tackles in back-to-back games against Nebraska (15) and Minnesota (14). The 29 tackles were the most by a Spartan in a two-game span since 2009 (Greg Jones: 15 tackles vs. Montana State; 14 tackles vs. Central Michigan). It also marked the first time a Spartan defensive lineman has recorded double figures in tackles in back-to-back games since Josh Shaw in 2000 (10 tackles vs. Missouri, 10 vs. Notre Dame).
Gholston's career-high 15 tackles at Nebraska matched a single-game high for a Spartan this season (Max Bullough 15 tackles vs. Youngstown State). Gholston became the first Spartan defensive lineman to reach double figures in tackles since Jonal Saint-Dic posted 10 stops against Northwestern in 2007, and it marked the highest single-game total by a Spartan defensive lineman since Josh Shaw produced 17 tackles against Wisconsin in 2000.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW -
Michigan State became the second team in Big Ten history to go 3-0 against Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin in a three-game span, joining Penn State, which accomplished the feat in 2008.
With consecutive wins over No. 10 Michigan and No. 4 Wisconsin, Michigan State became just the third Big Ten team since 2002 to record back-to-back victories over Top 10 opponents, according to the USA TODAY Coaches Poll, joining Ohio State (2002) and Michigan (2003).
Michigan State did not commit a penalty against Wisconsin. It marked the first time MSU wasn't flagged for a penalty in a game since Oct. 4, 1975, at Notre Dame.
Michigan State has had four different starting combinations in 11 games on the offensive line this season, including three different starting centers (Blake Treadwell, Travis Jackson, Ethan Ruhland).
DANTONIO NOTES -
Dantonio owns the most wins (42) by a Spartan head coach in his first five seasons (Biggie Munn ranks second, with 36 wins from 1947-1951). He is currently 42-21 (.667) at MSU.
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; school-record 11 wins in 2010).
Dantonio has won at least nine games in a season three times (9 in 2008, 11 in 2010, 9 this season), tying him with the most seasons of at least nine wins of any coach in MSU history (Biggie Munn, 1951, 1952, 1953; Duffy Daugherty, 1955, 1965, 1966).
With the win over Minnesota, Dantonio became just the sixth Spartan coach to win at least 40 games (Chester Brewer, Charlie Bachman, Biggie Munn, Duffy Daugherty and George Perles). In addition, Dantonio reached the 40-win mark in 61 games, which is the fourth fastest in MSU history (Chester Brewer: 40 wins in his first 52 games from 1903-08; Charlie Bachman: 40 wins in his first 58 games from 1933 to 1939; Biggie Munn: 40 wins in his first 50 games from 1947-52).
Dantonio, in his eighth year as a head coach, recorded his 60th career victory with the win over Indiana. His overall record is 60-38 (.612).
THE LAST MEETING -
B.J. Cunningham made an acrobatic grab for the go-ahead touchdown with two minutes left. Edwin Baker added a 25-yard scoring run and Eric Gordon intercepted Dan Persa in the closing seconds to seal a wild win.
Playing out of state for the first time in 2010, the Spartans scored 28 points in the second half. They trailed the entire way until Cunningham's grab with two minutes left on a ball that he and Northwestern's Brian Peters tipped in the end zone. Cunningham corralled the ball as he crashed to the ground, giving Michigan State its first lead at 28-27. That catch on a first down at the 9 capped an 88-yard drive in which Cousins was 7-of-8 passing.
After a drive by the Wildcats went nowhere, Michigan State took over at the Northwestern 31, and Baker broke through from the 25 to make it 35-27 with 1:07 left. Northwestern had one more chance, but Gordon's interception preserved the win, and the Spartans cleared one big hurdle.
Coach Mark Dantonio was back on the sidelines for this one after working the previous two games from the press box following his mild heart attack in September, and he probably didn't like what he saw for much of the game, particularly in the first half.
Northwestern scored the first 17 points and led 17-7 at the break. The Spartans had trouble containing the Wildcats' Dan Persa, who ran for 89 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed 18-of-29 passes for 187 yards but got sacked eight times and threw the late interception that sealed the outcome.
Persa's 6-yard run late in the third quarter made it 24-14, but Michigan State responded with a 75-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard pass from Cousins to Mark Dell with 13:12 left. That came right after a fake punt on fourth-and-11 at the Northwestern 36, when Aaron Bates hit Bennie Fowler with a 21-yarder. Stefan Demos kicked a 41-yard field goal with 9:47 remaining to boost the lead to 27-21, but the Wildcats couldn't hold it.
MSU/NORTHWESTERN COACHING CONNECTIONS -
Michigan State quarterbacks 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 -
Northwestern associate athletics director/head athletic trainer 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).
SPARTAN FROM THE LAND OF LINCOLN -
WINNINGEST SENIOR CLASS IN MSU HISTORY BIDS FAREWELL -
COUSINS ESTABLISHES HIMSELF AS ONE OF NATION'S TOP QUARTERBACKS -
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Cousins ranks among the Big Ten leaders in passing yards (second at 229.2 yards per game), touchdown passes (third with 19), passing efficiency (third with a 146.9 rating) and total offense (sixth at 221.0 ypg.). He has completed 204-of-319 throws (.639) for 2,521 yards, 19 TDs and five interceptions.
During MSU's three-game winning streak, Cousins has completed 57-of-88 throws (.648) for 828 yards (276.0 ypg.), eight TDs and no interceptions.
In his last game at Spartan Stadium, Cousins tied a school record with his 23rd career 200-yard passing game, completing 16-of-23 throws for 272 yards in the 55-3 win against Indiana on Senior Day. Cousins also tied his career high with three touchdown passes and now has 60 for his career, just one shy of tying the school record (61 by Jeff Smoker). He connected on scoring strikes to B.J. Cunningham (63 yards, 7 yards) and Keshawn Martin (47 yards).
Cousins recorded his seventh 200-yard passing game of the season and 22nd of his career, completing 18-of-31 throws for 260 yards and three TDs in MSU's 37-21 victory at Iowa, as the Spartans recorded their first win in Iowa City since 1989, ending a seven-game losing streak in Kinnick Stadium. He (8,064 career yards) became just the second Spartan quarterback to eclipse the 8,000-yard passing milestone. Cousins also tied his career high with three TD passes, including first-half scoring tosses of 6 and 22 yards to B.J. Cunninngham and 17 yards to Edwin Baker.
Cousins completed 23-of-34 passes for 296 yards and two TDs in MSU's 31-24 victory over Minnesota. On the final drive of the first half, he went 6-of-8 passing for 66 yards, including a 2-yard TD toss to fullback Todd Anderson on a first-and-goal play. Cousins completed passes to four different receivers during that eight-play, 74-yard drive that last 52 seconds.
He was named Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week after connecting on 22-of-31 throws for 290 yards and three TDs in the win over the Badgers, including his 44-yard Hail Mary pass to Keith Nichol on the final play of regulation. The three TD passes matched his career best. In addition to the game-winner to Nichol, Cousins completed scoring passes of 35 yards to Cunningham and 15 yards to Keshawn Martin.
Battling windy conditions with gusts up to 40 mph, Cousins completed 13-of-24 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns in Michigan State's 28-14 victory over No. 11 and previously undefeated Michigan. Cousins became the first Spartan starting quarterback to win three straight games over the Wolverines.
Cousins completed 20-of-32 passes for 250 yards in MSU's 10-7 victory at Ohio State, as the Spartans ended a seven-game losing streak against the Buckeyes and posted their first win in Columbus since 1998. His 33-yard TD strike to Cunningham in the back of the end zone gave MSU a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. His 250 passing yards marked the sixth-best single-game effort by a Spartan quarterback against Ohio State.
He completed 13-of-22 throws for 213 yards, one TD and one interception in MSU's 45-7 victory over Central Michigan.
Cousins recorded his fourth career 300-yard passing game at Notre Dame while setting personal bests for pass completions (34) and pass attempts (53). His 329 passing yards are the most ever by a Spartan quarterback against the Irish (previous record: 327 yards by Drew Stanton, 2005). His 34 completions are second-highest single-game total in MSU history (school record: 35 by Jeff Smoker vs. Ohio State, 2003) while his 53 attempts are fifth-best figure in school history and the most since Brian Hoyer attempted a school-record 61 passes at Penn State in 2006. In three career games against Notre Dame, Cousins completed 72 percent of his passes (68-of-95) for 734 yards, four TDs and three interceptions.
Cousins connected on 18-of-22 throws for 222 passing yards in the 2011 season opener against Youngstown State, including an 18-yard TD strike to Cunningham late in the third quarter that gave MSU a 21-6 lead. He completed his first six pass attempts for 114 yards.
The Holland, Mich., native currently ranks first in MSU history in passing efficiency (146.7) and tied for first in completion percentage (.642; 660-of-1,028). Those figures also rank among the Top 10 in Big Ten history: fifth in passing efficiency and tied for fifth in completion percentage. He is listed among MSU's all-time leaders in pass attempts (second with 1,028), pass completions (second with 660), passing yards (second with 8,336 yards), TD passes (second with 60), 200-yard passing games (tied for first with 23) and total offense (second with 8,158 yards). In addition, Cousins ranks among all active NCAA FBS leaders in passing yards (15th), TD passes (16th), completions (17th), completion percentage (17th), passing efficiency (17th) and total offense (18th).
CUNNINGHAM CLOSING OUT BANNER SENIOR YEAR -
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Cunningham is Michigan State's all-time leader in receptions with 200, and is just one of 11 players in Big Ten history to record at least 200 career catches. He also is listed among the school's career leaders in receiving yards (third with 2,785 yards) and touchdown receptions (tied for third with 20). In addition, Cunningham ranks among all active NCAA FBS leaders in receptions (13th) and receiving yards (14th).
Cunningham recorded his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the season and eighth of his career, with six receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns on Senior Day against Indiana. His six 100-yard receiving games is tied for the second-best single-season total in Spartan history (tied with Charles Rogers, 2001 and 2002; school-record seven by Devin Thomas, 2007).
He had four catches for 46 yards in MSU's 37-21 victory at Iowa, including first-half TD grabs of 6 and 22 yards from Kirk Cousins as the Spartans built a 31-7 halftime lead.
Cunningham recorded his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season and seventh of his career, with three receptions for 104 yards in the win over Minnesota. His season-long 69-yard reception from Cousins in the first quarter helped set up MSU's first touchdown.
Cunningham had his streak of 41 consecutive regular-season games with at least one pass reception come to an end at Nebraska.
He had six receptions for 102 yards in MSU's 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin, including a 35-yard TD grab from Cousins in the second quarter.
Cunningham had nine receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown in MSU's 10-7 victory at Ohio State, as the Spartans ended a seven-game losing streak against the Buckeyes and recorded their first win in Columbus since 1998. He scored on a 33-yard strike from Cousins to give MSU a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. His 154 receiving yards are the most ever by a Spartan against Ohio State (previous record: 135 receiving yards by Frank Foreman, 1969).
He had three catches for 67 yards in MSU's 45-7 victory over Central Michigan, including a 54-yard grab from Cousins on the game's opening series that set up Le'Veon Bell's 1-yard TD run.
Cunningham recorded career highs in receptions (12) and receiving yards (158) at Notre Dame. His 12 catches tied for fourth most in a game by a Spartan wide receiver (record: 14 by Matt Trannon vs. Eastern Michigan in 2006). His 158 receiving yards were the most since Blair White had 186 yards against Northwestern in 2009, and the second most for a Spartan wide receiver against Notre Dame (Charles Rogers, 175 yards in 2002). It marked his second-career 100-yard receiving game against the Irish (seven receptions for 101 yards vs. Notre Dame in 2010). In four career games against Notre Dame, Cunningham had 26 receptions for 361 yards and one TD.
Cunningham became MSU's all-time leader in receptions with his 7-yard grab on a third-and-4 play on the first series against Florida Atlantic. He finished with five catches for 73 yards against the Owls.
The Westerville, Ohio, native caught nine passes for 130 yards in the 2011 season opener against Youngstown State, as he tied Trannon's (2003-06) record for career receptions with 148. His 18-yard TD catch from Cousins late in the third quarter gave MSU a 21-6 lead.
Keshawn Martin AN ALL-PURPOSE THREAT -
This season, Martin has recorded career highs in receptions (51) and receiving yards (570). The multi-dimensional threat has accounted for six touchdowns in 2011 (four receiving and two rushing) and ranks fourth on the team in all-purpose yards with 874 (570 receiving; 202 punt return, 87 rushing, 15 kick return).
The 5-11, 189-pound wide receiver ranks third in the Big Ten in punt returns (9.6 avg.) and sixth in receptions (51; 4.6 pg.). In conference games, Martin is fourth in the Big Ten in receptions (5.3 pg.) and seventh in receiving yards (62.6 ypg.).
Over his last six games, Martin has led MSU with 32 catches for 393 yards and four touchdowns.
Martin was named to the Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll after accounting for a season-high 182 all-purpose yards and two scorers on Senior Day against Indiana. He had eight catches for a season-best 99 yards against the Hoosiers, including a 47-yard TD grab from Kirk Cousins late in the first quarter. His eight receptions matched his career high (vs. Notre Dame, 2008). Martin also scored on a 19-yard reverse early in the second quarter that gave the Spartans a 24-3 lead. He also returned five punts for 64 yards, including a 21-yard return in the second quarter that set up Edwin Baker's first rushing touchdown. His 30-yard punt return late in the third quarter helped set up Baker's second TD run early in the fourth quarter.
He had four receptions for 87 yards, including a 67-yard catch, at Iowa. Against Nebraska (five catches for 58 yards) and Minnesota (seven catches for 77 yards), Martin led MSU in both receptions and receiving yards.
In the second quarter of MSU's 37-31 win over No. 4 Wisconsin, Martin scored on a 34-yard double reverse. He also caught five passes for 41 yards against the Badgers, including a 15-yard TD reception early in the fourth quarter that gave the Spartans a 31-17 lead.
Martin had three catches for 31 yards in Michigan State's 28-14 victory over No. 11 Michigan, including TD grabs of 10 and 13 yards in the third quarter.
The Inkster, Mich., native ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in punt return yards (fifth with 587), kick return yards (eighth with 1,085), all-purpose yards (11th with 3,693), receptions (tied for 17th with 112), and touchdown pass receptions (tied for 17th with 10).
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