No. 11 Spartans Take On No. 15 Wisconsin in Inaugural Big Ten Championship Game
Dec. 2, 2011
FIRST-AND-10 (what you need to know about the MSU-Wisconsin matchup) -
With its 31-17 victory at Northwestern, Michigan State (7-1) won the Big Ten Legends Division title outright, finishing one game ahead of Michigan (6-2) in the final standings. MSU secured a spot in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game, thanks to its 55-3 win over Indiana on Senior Day coupled with Nebraska's 45-17 loss at Michigan.
Michigan State is ranked No. 11 and No. 9 in the latest Associated Press and USA TODAY Polls, respectively. The Spartans have been ranked in the USA TODAY Poll for 27 consecutive weeks, the longest streak for the program since the national newspaper began administering the poll in 1991.
The Spartans are ranked No. 13 in the latest Bowl Championship Series Standings, released Sunday, Nov. 27. Michigan State has been listed in the BCS Standings (Top 25) for 15 consecutive weeks, the longest streak in school history (BCS Standings first released during 1998 season).
The 2011 senior class has helped Michigan State to a record of 36-15 (.706) 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 Big Ten Championship Game. The 36 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 21 of its last 25 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season, including a 14-2 record in Big Ten play. The 21 wins over the last two seasons is the highest two-year total in school history and ties for seventh most among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams during that same period. In addition, the Spartans have won at least 10 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history. MSU also is one of 10 programs to have recorded at least 10 wins each of the last two seasons.
Over the last four years, Michigan State has won more Big Ten games (24) than any other conference team. (Note: Ohio State also won 24 games, but had to vacate seven victories following the 2010 season.)
Michigan State has recorded more than 400 yards of total offense in three of its last four games (402 vs. Minnesota; 443 vs. Iowa; 470 vs. Indiana). During MSU's current four-game winning streak, the Spartans are averaging 38.5 points and 423.8 total yards per game. In addition, Kirk Cousins has completed 71-of-108 throws (.657) for 1,042 yards (260.5 ypg.), 10 TDs and one interception during the four-game stretch.
Michigan State leads the Big Ten in rushing defense (102.5 yards per game), total defense (266.7 ypg.), sacks (38), interceptions (16) and third-down defense (.329). The Spartans rank among the conference leaders in scoring defense (second at 15.4 points per game), pass efficiency defense (second with a 104.9 rating), turnover margin (second at +0.75 per game), takeaways (third with 22), red-zone defense (third at .733) and passing defense (fourth at 164.2 ypg.). MSU also ranks among the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Top 20 in seven statistical categories: third in total defense, tied for third in sacks, sixth in scoring defense, seventh in pass efficiency defense, eighth in passing defense, 11th in rushing defense and 17th in turnover margin.
The Spartans recorded 59 tackles for loss during Big Ten play, including a league-best 33 sacks. Michigan State's nine sacks at Ohio State tied a school record and also ranks tied for second in a single game this season in the NCAA FBS.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS -
MSU is bowl eligible for a school-record fifth consecutive year (2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl).
Michigan State has been a strong first-half team, outscoring its opponents, 225-88 (+137). In the second quarter alone, MSU has outscored its opponents by 117 points, 146-29.
Fifth-year senior Kirk Cousins, the winningest quarterback in school history, has compiled a 26-11 record (.703) in 37 career starts, including a 21-4 mark since the beginning of the 2010 season. His career winning percentage (seventh) and career victories (ninth) rank among all active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks. He became the winningest quarterback in Spartan history with Michigan State's dramatic 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin on Oct. 29.
Cousins has connected on 66-of-109 third-down throws (.606) for 892 yards, with 43 of those completions resulting in first downs and 10 for touchdowns (eighth-highest total in NCAA FBS).
Fifth-year senior B.J. Cunningham is Michigan State's all-time leader in receptions with 206 and 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 (second with 2,905 yards), TD receptions (third with 22) and 100-yard receiving games (tied for third with 9). In addition, Cunningham ranks among all active NCAA FBS leaders in receiving yards (10th), receptions (15th) and TD catches (15th). He needs only 88 more receiving yards to break Andre Rison's school record (2,992 career receiving yards from 1985-88).
Over his last seven games, senior Keshawn Martin has posted a team-best 34 catches for 450 yards and 4 TDs while accounting for 746 all-purpose yards (106.6 ypg.).
Left guard Joel Foreman made his 47th career start at Northwestern. 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).
Michigan State tailbacks Le'Veon Bell and Edwin Baker have combined to rush for 1,418 yards (118.2 yards per game) and 14 touchdowns. In Big Ten games, Bell ranked 10th in the league in rushing, averaging 72.1 yards per game.
Michigan State has held six of its opponents below 100 yards rushing (22 yards by FAU, 21 by CMU, 35 by Ohio State, 82 by Michigan, 87 by Iowa and 94 by Indiana). In addition, the Spartans have allowed only eight rushing touchdowns (tied for the fifth-fewest allowed in the NCAA FBS).
The Spartans have only allowed their opponents 30 trips into the red zone this season, which is the second fewest in the Big Ten and tied for the 11th fewest trips permitted in the NCAA FBS.
The Spartan defense has allowed only four gains of 40-plus yards from scrimmage in 2011 - tied for the fifth-fewest surrendered by an NCAA FBS team. The Spartans have also allowed only 33 gains of 20-plus yards (eighth in the FBS) and 12 of 30-plus yards (tied for 10th in the FBS).
The Spartans have returned three interceptions (Isaiah Lewis vs. Central Michigan and Michigan; Johnny Adams vs. Indiana) and one fumble (Jeremy Langford vs. FAU) for scores this season. Lewis is one of 11 players in the NCAA FBS to return two interceptions for TDs this season.
Junior cornerback Johnny Adams is tied for 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.
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 the fourth-longest active home winning streak in the NCAA FBS (LSU - 17; Wisconsin - 16; Northern Illinois - 15: MSU - 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.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW -
With wins over Michigan and Wisconsin, Michigan State became the first team to defeat opponents with 6-0 or better overall records in consecutive Big Ten Conference games.
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 12 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 (43) by a Spartan head coach in his first five seasons ("Biggie" Munn ranks second, with 36 wins from 1947-1951). He is currently 43-21 (.672) 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; 10 wins in 2011).
Dantonio has won at least nine games in a season three times (9 in 2008, 11 in 2010, 10 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 (Brewer: 40 wins in his first 52 games from 1903-08; Bachman: 40 wins in his first 58 games from 1933 to 1939; 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 61-38 (.616). Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game marks his 100th career game as a head coach.
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