No. 11 Spartans Play Host to Minnesota on Senior Day
 
 
 
Senior linebacker Max Bullough will be one of 18 seniors playing in their final game at Spartan Stadium on Saturday against Minnesota.
 
Senior linebacker Max Bullough will be one of 18 seniors playing in their final game at Spartan Stadium on Saturday against Minnesota.
 
 

Nov. 27, 2013

Game 12:
No. 11 Michigan State (10-1, 7-0 Big Ten) vs. Minnesota (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten)
 Date | Time Saturday, Nov. 30 | 12 p.m.
 Location East Lansing, Mich.
Spartan Stadium (75,005/Natural Grass)
 Televison BTN
 Broadcast Team Kevin Kugler (play-by-play) | Glen Mason (analyst)
J Lehman (sidelines)
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 Radio Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live) | Affiliates
 Satellite Radio Sirius Ch. 138; XM Ch. 198
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 Parking/Stadium Information Gameday Central | Tailgating Information | Tickets
 Parking Lots will open at 7 a.m.
 Game Notes Michigan State | Minnesota
 Depth Charts Michigan State | Minnesota
 Social Media @MSU_Football | #MSUMINN | Facebook

The Last Meeting
Michigan State26
Minnesota10
November 24, 2012
Minneapolis, Minn.
Spartans Power Past Minnesota, 26-10
Le'Veon Bell rumbled for a career-high 266 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to put the game away, leading Michigan State to a 26-10 victory over Minnesota on Saturday to secure a spot in a bowl game. Bell carried 35 times on a cold afternoon and Dan Conroy made four of his five field-goal attempts, three of them from 43 yards or longer, to help the Spartans (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten) wear down the Gophers (6-6, 2-6). Minnesota played the second half without coach Jerry Kill on the sideline. The team didn't immediately give a reason.

FIRST-AND-10 -
• No. 11/11 Michigan State plays host to Minnesota Saturday, Nov. 30 in Spartan Stadium on Senior Day in the 2013 regular-season finale. The Spartans (10-1, 7-0) clinched the Big Ten Legends Division title outright for the second time in the past three seasons last Saturday at Northwestern and have sealed a trip to play in the Big Ten Championship Game Dec. 7 in Indianapolis against No. 3 Ohio State. Before taking on the Buckeyes, MSU will be looking to complete its third perfect Big Ten regular season in program history (1965, 1966) and the first since the conference expanded to eight games. Although Minnesota (8-3, 4-3) had its four-game winning streak snapped last week with a 20-7 loss to No. 16 Wisconsin, the Gophers have already posted their winningest season since 2003 and are bowl eligible for the second consecutive season under third-year head coach Jerry Kill.

• Saturday's game marks the 46th meeting between Michigan State and Minnesota. The Spartans lead the all-time series, 28-17, including a 16-6 record in games played in East Lansing. MSU defeated the Gophers in the 2012 regular-season finale in Minneapolis, 26-10, to clinch a sixth consecutive bowl bid. Overall, Michigan State has won 22 of the last 28 meetings. Seventh-year MSU head coach Mark Dantonio is 3-1 against Minnesota, including a 2-0 record in Spartan Stadium.

• Eighteen seniors will make their final appearance in Spartan Stadium on Saturday against Minnesota. With a 39-12 record, the 2013 senior class is the winningest senior class in the 117-year history of Michigan State football. The 2013 class, which also owns a home record of 22-5 (.815), will be recognized Saturday in a pregame ceremony. MSU is 4-2 in Senior Day games under head coach Mark Dantonio.

• MSU is attempting to finish its home season undefeated for the 19th time since Spartan Stadium opened in 1923 and for the third time in the past four years (back-to-back 7-0 seasons in 2010 and 2011). The Spartans are 37-11 (.771) at home under Dantonio.

• 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 17-5 record (.773) in November. His teams have won 11 of the last 13 games in November (3-0 in 2010; 4-0 in 2011; 1-2 in 2012, 3-0 in 2013), including four straight. Dantonio has been named one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Football Club Coach of the Year Award.

• Through 11 games, Michigan State's defense ranks No. 1 in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense (236.6 yards per game) and rushing defense (59.4 ypg.). The Spartans have been ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense for 11 consecutive weeks. The Spartans also rank among the national leaders in pass efficiency defense (second with 93.7 rating), opponent third-down conversions (second at .273; 44-for-161), first downs defense (third at 13.8 pg.), scoring defense (fourth at 12.5 ppg.) and passing defense (eighth at 177.3 ypg.). 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 current seven-game winning streak is the longest since the Spartans won their first eight games in 2010. Dating back to last year's win over Minnesota in regular-season finale, MSU has won eight straight Big Ten games, tied for the second-longest streak in school history (record: 16, 1965-67).

• With 10 victories already in 2013, this marks the fifth time MSU has recorded double-digit wins in a season (10 in 1966, 10 in 1999, 11 in 2010, 11 in 2011), including three under Dantonio.

• Senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard has been named one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given annually to the nation's best defensive back. Last week, Dennard was named one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded to the top defensive player in college football. The Dry Branch, Ga., native, who ranks among the Big Ten leaders in interceptions (4), pass break-ups (7) and passes defended (11), is one of the main reasons why Michigan State leads the Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense (236.6 ypg.) and ranks second in the FBS in pass efficiency defense (93.7 rating) and eighth in passing defense (177.3 ypg.). The 5-foot-11, 197-pound Dennard ranks fifth on the team with 47 tackles, including two for losses (4 yards), and has already accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl.

• The Spartans have won 39 of their last 51 games (.765), dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season. The 39 wins are tied for most in the Big Ten during that same time period. In addition, MSU has recorded 34 Big Ten victories since 2008, the most of any team in the conference (Note: Ohio State has won 39 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 have won two Big Ten Legends Division titles (2011, 2013).

STAT LEADERS -
Michigan State (after 11 games):
Rushing - Jeremy Langford (224 carries for 1,076 yards, 4.8 avg., 15 TDs)
Passing - Connor Cook (167 of 284 for 1,976 yards, 16 TDs, 3 INTs)
Receiving - Macgarrett Kings Jr. (33 catches for 370 yards, 11.2 avg., 3 TDs)
Tackles - Kurtis Drummond (71 tackles, 39 solos, 32 assists, 3.0 TFL, 4 INTs, 5 PBUs)

Minnesota (after 11 games):
Rushing - David Cobb (192 carries for 1,010 yards, 5.3 avg., 7 TDs)
Passing - Philip Nelson (86 of 161 for 1,211 yards, 9 TDs, 4 INTs)
Receiving - Derrick Engel (25 catches for 401 yards, 16.0 avg., 5 TDs)
Tackles - Damien Wilson (65 tackles, 37 solos, 28 assists, 5.5 TFL)

THE LAST MEETING -
Nov. 24, 2012, in Minneapolis, Minn. (AP): Le'Veon Bell rumbled for a career-high 266 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to put the game away, leading Michigan State to a 26-10 victory over Minnesota to secure a spot in a bowl game.

Bell carried 35 times on a cold afternoon and Dan Conroy made four of his five field-goal attempts, three of them from 43 yards or longer, to help the Spartans wear down the Gophers.

Aaron Hill's 33-yard interception return for a touchdown gave Minnesota a lead it kept for more than 18 minutes in the first half, but Jordan Wettstein's season-long 48-yard field goal was the only offensive score for the Gophers, who had a season-low 96 total yards - and just 4 yards rushing. Philip Nelson threw three interceptions, two by Johnny Adams, and was replaced in the fourth quarter by Max Shortell, who was picked off too.

Despite the single-digit margin that lasted until 7:25 was left, when Bell patiently waited for an opening around left end and jogged across the goal line, this was downright domination for the Spartans considering how close all their games were this season. They lost five times in conference play by a total of 13 points, and their other two Big Ten wins were by seven points combined.

For all the work the defense did to keep the Gophers competitive, there were two costly lapses. In the second quarter, Andrew Maxwell went 5-for-7 for 74 yards to lead an 82-yard touchdown drive capped by a 40-yard catch and run for the score by Bennie Fowler off a tipped pass. Fowler finished with seven receptions and 101 yards.

Then there was the clinching march, when Bell ran eight straight times to close from 8 yards out and stretch the lead to 16 points. The junior became the seventh rusher in Spartans history to pass the 3,000-yard mark for his career.

Maxwell was intercepted twice in the first half, including one by Brock Vereen in the end zone. Hill's slick grab in the flat was the third pick returned for a touchdown against Maxwell this season. He has 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the season. He went 13-for-29 for 143 yards.

THE LAST MEETING IN SPARTAN STADIUM -
Nov. 5, 2011, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP): Le'Veon Bell's 35-yard touchdown run with 10:58 remaining helped No. 15 Michigan State hold off upset-minded Minnesota 31-24.

Bell ran for 96 yards and two touchdowns, and Kirk Cousins threw for 296 yards and a pair of TDs. The Spartans trailed 24-21 after three quarters before rallying.

MarQueis Gray threw three touchdown passes to Da'Jon McKnight for the Golden Gophers, who upset Iowa last weekend but were unable to shake up the conference title race again.

With the score tied at 24, Bell found running room to the right and went all the way to the end zone to put the Spartans ahead. Minnesota had the ball at the Michigan State 45 with 15 seconds left, but Gray threw an interception.

Gray was 19 of 32 for a career-high 295 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, and McKnight caught nine passes for a career-high 173 yards.

Michigan State entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation in pass defense, but Gray and McKnight didn't seem to notice. The 6-foot-4 quarterback found his senior receiver with a short pass early in the first quarter, and McKnight slipped past three potential tacklers before eventually dragging defensive back Johnny Adams into the end zone for a 64-yard touchdown to open the scoring.

Cousins answered with a 4-yard scoring pass to Keith Nichol, but a fumble by the Spartans' Edwin Baker later in the quarter gave Minnesota the ball at the Michigan State 26. Gray's 13-yard touchdown pass to McKnight put the Gophers back ahead.

The Spartans tied it at 14 on a 1-yard scoring run by Bell in the second quarter.

Down 17-14 in the fi nal minute of the half, Michigan State finally found a rhythm, driving 74 yards and taking the lead on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Todd Anderson with 5 seconds left in the second quarter. It was Anderson's first career touchdown.

The advantage was short-lived. Minnesota went 80 yards in 11 plays at the start of the third and took a 24-21 lead when Gray found McKnight in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown on third-and-12.

Dan Conroy tied it at 24 with a 40-yard field goal 11 seconds into the fourth quarter, after tight end Brian Linthicum made a nice play in the end zone to prevent a possible interception. That drive started at the Minnesota 41 after Trenton Robinson's acrobatic interception.

Robinson also made the interception in the final seconds that sealed the win.

MSU/MINNESOTA COACHING CONNECTIONS -
• Former legendary Michigan State head coach and College Football Hall of Famer Clarence "Biggie" Munn was a three-year letterman as a guard at Minnesota, from 1929-31, where he played one season for Dr. Clarence Spears and two years for "Fritz" Crisler. Munn, a two-time team MVP (1930-31), earned consensus All-America honors as a senior in 1931 while helping the Golden Gophers to a 7-3 record.

In just seven seasons from 1947-53, Munn transformed Michigan State into one of the winningest and most respected programs in the nation, as he produced a remarkable record of 54-9-2 (.846). During his tenure, the Spartans won back-to-back National Championships in 1951 and 1952, rattled off a school-record 28-game winning streak, and won the 1953 Big Ten Co-Championship in the school's inaugural season in the conference. He capped off his illustrious career with a 28-20 victory over fifth-ranked UCLA in the 1954 Rose Bowl. Over his final four seasons, Munn compiled a 35-2 record (.946), including four consecutive Top 10 finishes in the final Associated Press and United Press International Polls from 1950-53. He was named National Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association in 1952 after leading Michigan State to a perfect 9-0 record and the consensus National Championship. Munn, who produced 18 first-team All-Americans, became the only coach to beat Notre Dame's Frank Leahy three years in a row (1950-52). He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959.

Prior to Michigan State's 2012 Homecoming game against Iowa, Munn had his name added to Spartan Stadium's "Ring of Fame."

• Michigan State quarterbacks coach Brad Salem's father Joe compiled a 19-35-1 record (.355) in five seasons as head coach at Minnesota, from 1979-83.

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

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 39 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 39 of their last 51 games (.765), dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season. In addition, the Spartans have won 12 of their last 13 games, dating back to the 2012 regular-season finale.

• 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 34 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.

• Since 2010, MSU has recorded 24 Big Ten victories, the most of any team in the conference (Note: Ohio State has won 25 games, but had to vacate seven victories following the 2010 season.)

SPARTAN DEFENSE RANKS NO. 1 IN THE FBS -
• Through 11 games, Michigan State's defense ranks No. 1 in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense (236.6 yards per game) and rushing defense (59.4 ypg.). The Spartans have been ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense for 11 consecutive weeks. The Spartans also rank among the national leaders in pass efficiency defense (second with 93.7 rating), opponent third-down conversions (second at .273; 44-for-161), first downs defense (third at 13.8 pg.), scoring defense (fourth at 12.5 ppg.) and passing defense (eighth at 177.3 ypg.). 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, Alabama, Louisville, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin are the only five schools in the FBS to rank in the top 10 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 3.82 yards per play and 2.18 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 (89) and opponent rushes of 10-plus yards (15). The Spartans also have allowed just 30 plays of 20-plus yards, which is sixth fewest in the FBS.

• The Spartans have held 10 of their 11 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 90 games under Mark Dantonio, MSU has held its opponents under 100 yards rushing 45 times (50 percent). • Since the beginning of 2011, Michigan State has held opponents under 100 rushing yards in 25 of 38 games (seven in 2011; eight in 2012; 10 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 12.5 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 five of their seven Big Ten opponents in the second half (Iowa, Purdue, Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern). Overall, MSU has shut out its opponent in the second half six times this season (South Florida).

• 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 (5.0 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 11 games in 2013, the Spartans have allowed 16 touchdowns (five rushing, 11 passing), fourth fewest in the FBS.

• Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Michigan State's defense has held 15 opponents (29 percent) to less than 10 points, including five times this season (South Florida, Purdue, Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern).

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 41st in the FBS in sacks (25) and 18th in takeaways (24). In addition, MSU ranks second in the FBS with five defensive touchdowns after not recording any in 2012.

Kurtis Drummond picked off a career-best two passes against Northwestern and is tied for the team lead with four interceptions.


• Michigan State ranks first in the Big Ten and tied for sixth in the FBS in turnover margin (+14, 1.27 per game). The Spartans have forced a total of 24 turnovers (10 fumbles, 14 interceptions), including five for touchdowns (three fumble recoveries, two interception returns). MSU has converted those 24 takeaways into 93 points. The Spartans have forced the most turnovers in the Big Ten (24) and have also turned the ball over the least amount of times (10) in the conference. MSU's four interceptions are also a conference low.

• Michigan State has forced at least one turnover in 72 of 90 games over the last seven seasons (80 percent of the games played since 2007), including 10 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.

• Since the beginning of 2011, Michigan State has held 25 opponents under 100 rushing yards (seven in 2011; eight in 2012; 10 in 2013), which ranks tied for first in the NCAA FBS, along with Stanford.

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 11 games this season, the Spartans have forced their opponents to go three-and-out on 61 of 138 possessions (.442 percent; 5.5 per game). [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 has won its seven Big Ten games by an average margin of victory of 19.9 points per game. MSU has won every Big Ten game by double digits (closest game: 26-14 victory at Iowa).

• Michigan State ranks first in the Big Ten and second in the FBS in opponent third-down conversions (44 of 161, 27.3 percent). Conversely, the Spartans rank second in the Big Ten in converting third downs on offense, with a success rate of 48 percent (86 of 179).

• Dantonio has always stressed the importance of a balanced offense, and the 2013 Spartans couldn't be more balanced statistically. MSU has 20 rushing touchdowns and 17 passing touchdowns, and is averaging 187 yards a game rushing and 199 yards a game passing. Twelve different offensive players have scored TDs for MSU this season.

• Michigan State is 19-9 (.679) in Big Ten road games under Dantonio, including a six-game winning streak and a 13-3 record (.813) since 2010. MSU went a perfect 4-0 in conference road games this season (wins at Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Northwestern). 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 17-5 record (.773) in November. His teams have won 11 of the last 13 games in November (3-0 in 2010; 4-0 in 2011; 1-2 in 2012, 3-0 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 10 sacks, which ranks first in the Big Ten (tied) and 10th fewest in the NCAA FBS (tied with Stanford, Iowa and Oklahoma State). The offensive line features seven players with starting experience (131 combined starts).

• The Spartans have tallied 33 plays of 20 yards or more on offense (11 rushing, 22 passing) in their seven league games (4.7 per game), compared to just 11 (five rushing, six passing) during their four non-conference games (2.3 pg.).

• Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 45-8 (.849) when leading in time of possession, including a 32-5 record (.865) since 2010. The Spartans lead the NCAA FBS in time of possession (34:38 per game) in 2013. In conference games, that margin improves by 42 seconds (35:20 per game).

• Michigan State is outrushing its opponents by 127 yards per game (186.6 to 59.4). Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 49-11 (.817) when outrushing its opponent, including a 33-4 record (.892) 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 25 games have been decided by 10 points or less (MSU record: 5-7).

SCOUTING MINNESOTA -
• Minnesota has won eight games for the first time since winning 10 games in 2003. The Gophers are bowl eligible for the second-straight season under head coach Jerry Kill, who is in his third year leading the Minnesota program. Kill arrived in Minneapolis after spending three seasons at Northern Illinois, where he went 23-16 and won the 2010 Mid-American Conference Championship.

• The Gophers rank fourth in the Big Ten in rushing, averaging 207.9 yards per game. Junior David Cobb leads the way, ranking sixth in the conference with 91.8 ypg.

• Sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson, who is in his second year as the starter, has completed 53 percent of his passes (86 of 161) for 1,211 yards (121.1 ypg.), nine touchdowns and four interceptions.

• Fifth-year senior Derrick Engel leads the receiving corps with 25 catches for 401 yards and five touchdowns.

• Defensively, junior linebacker Damien Wilson ranks first on the team with 65 tackles, including 5.5 for losses, while senior defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman leads the team with 11 tackles for loss.

MSU/MINNESOTA SERIES NOTES -
• Saturday's game marks the 46th meeting between Michigan State and Minnesota. The Spartans lead the all-time series, 28-17, including a 16-6 record in games played in East Lansing. MSU defeated the Gophers in the 2012 regular-season finale in Minneapolis, 26-10, to clinch a sixth consecutive bowl bid. Overall, Michigan State has won 22 of the last 28 meetings. Seventh-year MSU head coach Mark Dantonio is 3-1 against Minnesota, including a 2-0 record in Spartan Stadium.

WINNINGEST SENIOR CLASS IN MSU HISTORY SAYS GOODBYE -
• The 2013 senior class has helped Michigan State to a record of 39-12 (.765) since 2010, including four consecutive winning seasons. The 39 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.).

NOTABLE WINNING STREAK -
• MSU is off to a 7-0 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). Since the conference has expanded to eight league games, MSU has never posted a perfect conference season.

• MSU's eight-game conference winning streak, dating back to last year's regular-season finale against Minnesota, ties for the second longest in school history and is the longest since MSU also won eight straight spanning the 1978-79 seasons.

• The seven-game winning streak is the second longest under Dantonio (eight in 2010).

NOTES FROM THE NORTHWESTERN GAME -
• With the 30-6 victory at Northwestern, Michigan State clinched its second Big Ten Legends Division outright title in three seasons . . . MSU won the inaugural Big Ten Legends Division title in 2011 with a 7-1 conference record.

Jeremy Langford crossed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last weekend at Northwestern and has rushed for more than 100 yards in six-straight games.


• MSU now leads the all-time series over Northwestern, 37-17, including a 19-10 mark in Evanston . . . the Spartans have won five straight at Ryan Field . . . MSU head coach Mark Dantonio is 5-2 against Northwestern and 4-0 against the Wildcats in Evanston.

Jeremy Langford crossed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season with 150 yards on 25 carries . . . he now has 1,076 rushing yards this season, which currently ranks 17th most in an MSU single-season . . . Langford also recorded his sixth-straight 100-yard rushing game, a first for a Spartan since Lorenzo White accomplished the feat in seven-straight games in 1985 . . . Langford is the 14th Spartan to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season (Lorenzo White, Le'Veon Bell, Javon Ringer, Blake Ezor, Eric Allen, T.J. Duckett, Sedrick Irvin, Edwin Baker, Hyland Hickson, Levi Jackson, Marc Renaud, Everett Grandelius, Tico Duckett) . . . it also marks the 22nd time a Spartan has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season . . . Langford had two rushing TDs (20 and 37 yards) and now has 15 for the season, which is tied for ninth most in an MSU single-season.

Connor Cook threw for a career-high 293 yards and completed 16-of-24 passes and two touchdowns . . . his 87-yard touchdown pass to Bennie Fowler with 4:31 remaining in the second quarter gave MSU a 14-3 lead . . . it tied for the fourth-longest reception in Michigan State history.

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).

Michael Geiger connected on his only field attempt, a 37-yarder in the third quarter, for his 10th consecutive made field goal in a row . . . he is 12-for-13 on the season.

• MSU limited Northwestern to 80 yards rushing; the Spartans have held their opponents below 100 yards rushing in 10 of 11 games this season.

• MSU held Northwestern without a touchdown, marking the fifth time this season an opponent has not scored a TD against the Spartans . . . the six points were the fewest by Northwestern against Michigan State since the Spartans shut out the Wildcats 34-0 in 1999 . . . the 24-point win is also the largest margin of victory for MSU over NU since 1999.

Kurtis Drummond had a career-high two interceptions (34 yards) to go along with six tackles and a pass break-up.

• Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist Darqueze Dennard had a career-high nine tackles and his fourth interception of the season.

• Michigan State, which entered the game No. 1 in the Big Ten in turnover margin, won the turnover battle against Northwestern, 3-0 . . . the Spartans had three interceptions and now have 24 takeaways this season (+14).

COOK GROWS IN CONFIDENCE AS STARTING QB -
In his 10 starts (9-1 record), sophomore quarterback Connor Cook has completed 161-of-268 throws (.601) for 1,934 yards (193.4 per game), 16 touchdowns and three interceptions. Cook is the first Spartan quarterback to win nine of his first 10 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 11), passing yards (fourth at 223.6 ypg.), total offense (fourth at 229.0 ypg.) and passing efficiency (fourth with a 140.8 rating). Overall, he ranks tied for sixth in touchdown passes (16), seventh in the Big Ten in total offense (189.8 ypg), eighth in passing yards (179.6 ypg.) and ninth in passing efficiency (133.7 rating).

The 6-foot-4, 218-pound Cook recorded his sixth 200-yard passing game of the season, completing 16-of-23 throws for a career-high 293 yards and two touchdowns in Michigan State's 30-6 victory at Northwestern, as the Spartans claimed the Big Ten Legends Division title for the second time in three seasons. Cook posted those impressive numbers despite facing a wind chill of 9 degrees and wind gusts from 21-29 mph. He threw scoring passes of 87 yards to Bennie Fowler in the second quarter and 15 yards to Josiah Price in the third quarter. His 87-yard TD strike to Fowler tied the fourth-longest passing play in MSU history. Cook also improved to 7-0 as a starter in Big Ten games.

He connected on 15-of-31 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown in MSU's first-ever win over Nebraska, 41-28, in Lincoln. 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.

Connor Cook, who is 9-1 as MSU's starting quarterback, threw for a career-high 293 yards in last week's win at Northwestern.


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 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 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 33 for 370 yards and three touchdown receptions. His four 20-yard receptions and 13 third-down catches rank third on the team. Twenty of his 33 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 11 games this season. Over his last nine games, Kings has 29 catches for 332 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 (481), TD catches (6) and 20-yard receptions (8). He ranks third on the team in receptions with 30. Twenty of his 30 receptions (67 percent) have resulted in either a TD or a first down. Over his last eight games, Fowler has 27 catches for 447 yards and six TDs (Note: He sat out the Purdue game with a hamstring injury.)

He had two catches for 99 yards in MSU's 30-6 win at Northwestern, including an 87-yard TD reception from Cook in the second quarter that tied the fourth-longest pass play in MSU history.

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 ranks second on the team with 31 receptions for 383 yards. Twenty-one of his 31 receptions (68 percent) have resulted in a first down, including a team-leading 14 third-down grabs. Over his last seven games, Lippett has 27 catches for 342 yards.

He had a team-best three receptions for 64 yards at Northwestern, including a career-long 48-yard grab on the opening play of the second half that set up a field goal.

Lippett led the team with four catches for a career-best 67 yards at Nebraska, including a 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.

LANGFORD ECLIPSES 1,000-YARD RUSHING MILESTONE -
Junior Jeremy Langford leads the team in rushing attempts (224), rushing yards (1,076), rushing TDs (15), scoring (96 points) and all-purpose yards (1,186). In conference games, he ranks second in scoring (10.3 points per game) and fifth in the Big Ten in rushing (115.4 yards per game). Overall, Langford ranks among the Big Ten leaders in rushing TDs (first with 15), total TDs (first with 16), scoring (first with 96 points) and rushing (fifth at 97.8 ypg.). Sixty-four of his 224 carries (29 percent) have resulted in either a TD or a first down.

The 6-foot, 206-pound Langford recorded his sixth-straight 100-yard rushing game in Michigan State's 30-6 victory at Northwestern, with 25 rushes for 150 yards and two scores. It marked the first time a Spartan back has rushed for more than 100 yards in six consecutive games since Lorenzo White (school-record seven-straight 100-yard games in 1985). With his 20-yard TD run midway through the second quarter, Langford became the 22nd 1,000-yard rusher in Spartan history (14 different players). He iced the game with a 37-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter. Langford accounted for a career-best 185 all-purpose, with two catches for 35 yards including a career-long 24-yard grab in the third quarter.

He set career highs for carries (32), rushing yards (151) and rushing touchdowns (3) in MSU's 41-28 win at Nebraska. Langford scored on runs of 6, 3 and 37 yards. He added 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.

DENNARD NAMED FINALIST FOR BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY & JIM THORPE AWARD -
Senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard has been named one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award (presented to the nation's top defensive back) and one of five finalists the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (presented to the nation's top defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America). The 5-foot-11, 197-pound Dennard was recently named the No. 3 defensive player in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision by CBSSports.com.

Dennard, who has accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl, leads the Spartans in passes defended (11), pass break-ups (7) and interceptions (4). He ranks fifth on the team in tackles (47) and production points (176). Dennard has been credited with 2.5 tackles for losses (6 yards) and ranks among the Big Ten leaders in interceptions (tied for second) and passes defended (tied for eighth at 1.0 per game). He helps anchor a defensive unit that ranks among the NCAA FBS Top 10 in six different stat categories: rushing defense (first at 59.4 yards per game), total defense (first at 236.6 ypg.), passing efficiency defense (second with 93.7 rating), scoring defense (fourth at 12.5 points per game), turnover margin (sixth at +1.3 per game) and passing defense (eighth at 177.3 ypg.).

Dennard was a Midseason All-Big Ten (first-team) selection by ESPN.com, Phil Steele and BTN.com.

He recorded a career-best nine tackles and an interception in Michigan State's 30-6 victory at Northwestern, as the Spartans claimed the Big Ten Legends Division title for the second time in three seasons. It marked Dennard's personal best fourth interception of the season and 10th of his career. MSU's defense pitched a shutout in the second half against the Wildcats while allowing just seven first downs and 95 total yards. It also marked the fifth time this season that the Spartans had shut out a Big Ten opponent in the second half.

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 against the Wolverines.

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 eight tackles and a career-high two interceptions 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 152 tackles and 27 passes defended (17 pass break-ups, 10 interceptions) in 41 career games, including 37 starts (26 consecutive).

ALLEN ANCHORS NATION'S TOP DEFENSIVE UNIT -
Fifth-year senior linebacker Denicos Allen leads the Spartan defense in tackles for loss (13 for 48 yards) and production points (271). The 5-foot-11, 218-pound Allen also ranks second on the team in tackles (70) and sacks (5 for 34). He has been credited with seven quarterback hurries and 14 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 42.5) and sacks (sixth with 19). Allen has started 37 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 (30) and sacks (6.5 for 41). Calhoun ranks second on the defense in tackles for loss (11 for 60 yards) and production points (202). 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 10 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 11 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 one of only two defensive players 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 64), quarterback hurries (second with 10), tackles for loss (third with eight) and production points (third with 192). 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 287 career tackles in 51 games, including a team-high 38 consecutive starts. He ranks 15th in MSU history with 29 tackles for loss (98 yards) in his career, including 7.5 sacks (48 yards), and ranks 20th in the school record book in tackles (287). Bullough also has 11 passes defended (three interceptions, eight pass break-ups) and four forced fumbles.

ALL-AMERICA CANDIDATE Mike Sadler A VALUABLE WEAPON ON SPECIAL TEAMS -
Junior punter Mike Sadler was 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 36th in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in punting with his 42.4-yard average. He leads the FBS with 20 punts downed inside the 10-yard line (34 percent) and ranks tied for third with 27 punts placed inside the 20 (46 percent). Sadler also has had seven punts downed inside the 5, including three at the 1-yard line. In addition, he has 12 punts of 50-plus yards and opponents have collected just 87 punt return yards against the Spartans through 11 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.

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 61-29 (.678) record at Michigan State. He already ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in career wins (fourth) and winning percentage (fifth).

• Among Spartan coaches who have coached at least 10 Big Ten games, Dantonio owns the best winning percentage (.672, 37-18 record). "Biggie" Munn went 5-1 in his only Big Ten season in 1953.

• 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 . . . Dantonio also has three double-digit win seasons, which is also the most in school history.

• 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 17-5 record (.773) in November. His teams have won 11 of the last 13 games in November (3-0 in 2010; 4-0 in 2011; 1-2 in 2012, 3-0 in 2013), including four straight.

• Michigan State is 19-9 (.678) in Big Ten road games under Dantonio, including a six-game winning streak and a 13-3 record (.813) since 2010. MSU went 4-0 in conference road games this season (wins at Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Northwestern). Dantonio has won at least one road game at every Big Ten stadium.

• 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.