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Logo  Day 7: Thursday, Jan. 1

MSUSpartans.com Coverage:
Game Recap | Grinz on Green: Spartans Rally From 20-Point Deficit | Langford Closes Career in Style | Post-Game Notes | Photo Gallery

It was a win for the ages in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic for Michigan State.

Down 41-21 to No. 5 Baylor and the No. 1 offense in the nation in the fourth quarter, the Spartans put together their biggest bowl comeback in school history and the second largest in Cotton Bowl history, rallying for an improbable 42-41 victory to extend their bowl winning streak to four. The four-game bowl winning streak also ties a Big Ten record.

For complete coverage on the game, check out the above links from msuspartans.com.

After all of the confetti landed on the turf and the celebration wrapped up in the locker room, MSU left AT&T Stadium with their fourth 11-win season in the last five years, and the seniors tied the program record with 42 victories during their four seasons.

Quote of the day...
"Today out there on the field just showed the type of chemistry and the type of resiliency we have here. It really gets passed down from the top down, and guys continue to grow as they get older. For us to end on this note, this is truly a blessing."
-Senior captain Kurtis Drummond

Logo  Day 6: Wednesday, Dec. 31

MSUSpartans.com Coverage
Dantonio Press Conference Coverage | Grinz on Green: Spartans Looking to Further Validate Elite Status in Cotton Bowl Classic | Cotton Bowl Classic Game Preview | Day 6 Photo Gallery

After six days in Dallas, the Spartans are ready to take on fifth-ranked Baylor in the 79th Cotton Bowl Classic on New Year's Day.

The mood was light but the focus remained sharp Wednesday as MSU got its last taste of AT&T Stadium before its showdown with the Bears. The Spartans took their official team photo prior to a light walk-through. Spending nearly 45 minutes in t-shirts and shorts, the team was meticulous in putting the final touches on its preparations for the program's 25th all-time bowl appearance.

"We just wanted to move around for a little bit," said head coach Mark Dantonio. "We just wanted to play around a little bit before the game. Now we're good and ready to go."

The team closed the walk-through with its tradition of "Walking the Field" with the all players, extending from sideline to sideline, walking arm in arm and down the field from end zone to end zone.

In order to take the field and a victory over the Bears, Dantonio said the keys will be simple for his Spartans get their fourth consecutive bowl victory, which would extend a school record.

"Takeaways and turnover margin are always key," said Dantonio. "The ability to tackle in space and play the ball to the deep part of the field, those two things are key defensively. Then on the offensive side of the ball, balance and being able to control the football, whether it's running or passing, will be key."

Note of the day...
The Spartans are looking to tie a Big Ten record by winning their fourth straight bowl game. Michigan and Ohio State each have two four-game bowl winning streaks in their history, while Purdue and Wisconsin have accomplished the feat once.

Quote of the day...
"We have had a great experience here. There's no question the Cotton Bowl has been - no disrespect to any other bowls - but the hospitality, the bigness of this, the size of it, the magnitude of what they do for you is over the top."
-MSU head coach Mark Dantonio

Logo  Day 5: Tuesday, Dec. 30

MSUSpartans.com Coverage:
Grinz on Green: Finishing Long Drives Could Be Critical Factor Against Baylor | Day 5 Photo Gallery | Practice Report

With most of their Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic preparations in the books, the Spartans took to the turf on Tuesday afternoon for a final all-out practice at AT&T Stadium.

The team conducted a spirited practice in shorts and shells that lasted more than two hours. Continuing a program tradition, head coach Mark Dantonio concluded practice with a video tribute to the senior class followed by every senior walking down a receiving line to share final goodbyes with other teammates, coaches and support staff.

"It's a little emotional for guys," said Dantonio. "They're with you for five years, four years. This is their last chance to see a lot of people because after this bowl game, a lot of our guys will leave and some of them we won't see for four or five months when they come back for pro day. Some are leaving who aren't going to the pros or aren't going to the NFL so they are working jobs. So this is just the next step in their lives."

MSU will go through a light walk-through on Wednesday to put the final touches on its game plan for No. 5 Baylor in a New Year's Six bowl matchup.

"After we lost that late-season game, we had to re-align our goals and figure out the next best place you can be. And I pointed to the Cotton Bowl," said Dantonio. "The Cotton Bowl has always been a destination place. This was the place we wanted to come, I personally wanted us to come, because I knew we would have an opportunity to play a team that was ranked above us."

Former Spartans stopping by to take in a few minutes of practice today were former MLB pitcher Tim Crabtree (1990-92), 2011 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Gene Washington (1964-66) and former NFL standout Robaire Smith (1997-99).

Prior to practice, Coach Dantonio and the entire coaching staff, along with the team, attended Cotton Bowl Media Day inside AT&T Stadium to preview the game against Baylor. The hit of media day came courtesy of sophomore wide receiver Matt Macksood, as he gathered quite the crowd of teammates and generated laughter that filled up the room by impersonating several coaches, including Coach Dantonio, Jim Bollman, Mike Tressel and Dave Warner.

Note of the day...
MSU is just the second Big Ten team as a conference member to play in the Cotton Bowl Classic (Ohio State, 1987).

Quote of the day...
"They have great hospitality here. Texas is known for that. I love being here in this environment and with great people. I just really appreciate it."
-Junior defensive tackle Joel Heath

Logo  Day 4: Monday, Dec. 29

MSUSpartans.com Coverage:
Grinz on Green: Langford & Lippett Come Full Circle In Final Game | Day 4 Photo Gallery

Michigan State soaked up another action-packed day, from talking with the media to touching lives to, of course, getting in some work on the practice field, at the 79th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

The day began with the team's offensive news conference at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Quickly after, the entire roster and head coach Mark Dantonio took a step away from football to spend quality time visiting children at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. From there, the team regrouped at its headquarters hotel before making the trek back to Arlington for practice.

Dantonio put his Spartans (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) through a workout of just over two hours in shorts and shells at AT&T Stadium, once again working on all three phases as the showdown with No. 5 Baylor (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) looms.

"We're just fitting up on things and try to get everything straight," said Dantonio. "Our players have been thinking of Baylor for quite some time. We've had a lot of practices, a lot of reps. You hope you have everything squared away and your players are ready to play. I think our players will be ready to go."

On hand to check out MSU at practice today were three former Michigan State greats who went on to careers in the NFL -- Tony Banks (1994-95), Ray Hill (1995-97) and Renaldo Hill (1998-2000). In addition to the Spartan star power taking in practice, the team received an added bonus -- an invitation to experience Six Flags Over Texas. Shortly after practice, the players and coaches were treated to a tour and even enjoyed a few attractions at the 212-acre theme park located just a mile away from the stadium.

Note of the day...
MSU is looking to extend its school-record three-game bowl winning streak after topping No. 18 Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl, 33-30 in triple overtime, edging TCU in the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 17-16, and defeating No. 5 Stanford in the 2014 Rose Bowl, 24-20. MSU's three-game bowl winning streak is currently the longest active streak in the Big Ten.

Quote of the day...
"Coach D brought me in and said he wanted me to play offense and defense in the ball game just like I played the last two weeks of the season. I mean, it's my last game here, so I just said that's right. Let's get out there and get it done. I'm a competitor. And I feel like I can go out there and compete and have fun and play with confidence."
-Senior Tony Lippett, on starting at both wide receiver and cornerback in the Cotton Bowl

Logo  Day 3: Sunday, Dec. 28

MSUSpartans.com Coverage:
Grinz on Green: Past, Present and Future of Spartan Defense Will Be On Display In Cotton Bowl | Day 3 Photo Gallery

It was a busy day for No. 8 Michigan State as the Spartans began to hit their stride on their third day of preparations for the 79th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

The day began with a morning news conference at the Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas, as Michigan State assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and five defensive starters - junior defensive end Shilique Calhoun, junior linebacker Ed Davis, senior defensive end Marcus Rush and junior cornerback Trae Waynes - answered questions from the media about facing the nation's No. 1 offense in Baylor.

"Fast tempo," said Rush when asked to describe the Bear offense that averages 48.8 points per game and 581.2 yards per game. "That's who they are. That's how they're successful. Teams are trying to keep up. It's definitely difficult for any team as a defense as well. So even just prepping for them, it's hard. You got to be in shape, and you got to be focused at all times."

For complete coverage from Sunday's press conference, check out comments from Narduzzi and the five starters.

MSUSpartans.com columnist Steve Grinczel wrote an extended feature on the past, present and future of the Spartans defense that will be on display at the Cotton Bowl. Check out his column here.

The Spartans then conducted another intense two-and-a-half hour practice in full pads at AT&T Stadium.

"You've got to get ready," said MSU head coach Mark Dantonio. "You've got to have your legs but I think we never stopped conditioning a little bit because Baylor is a team that's going to run it. They're going to run a lot of plays. Their receivers are going to get vertical on you. Our whole system has to be conditioning, mental conditioning as much as anything."

After the team returned to the hotel, the Cotton Bowl hosted a pizza and autograph party for players, staff and family members.

The Spartans finished the day by watching some NBA action as the Dallas Mavericks hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder at American Airlines Arena.

Note of the day...
Michigan State is extending its school record by playing in a bowl game for the eighth consecutive season (2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl, 2012 Outback Bowl, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 2014 Rose Bowl, 2015 Cotton Bowl). The eight-year bowl streak is currently the second longest in the Big Ten and 13th longest in the NCAA FBS.

Quote of the day...
"Because it's about these kids and what we built. These are like my sons. If I didn't come down here and coach in this bowl game, yI'd be letting every one of these 115 guys down and rest of the staff down, and Coach D. That's what it's about. It's about these kids and how hard they worked to get to this game. It's about the game. It's all about this game right now. We're in a one game season, and it's for all the marbles and we want to finish in the top five."
-Pat Narduzzi, on the importance of coaching in his final game as MSU's defensive coordinator vs. Baylor after being named the Pittsburgh head coach on Dec. 26

Logo  Day 2: Saturday, Dec. 27

MSUSpartans.com Coverage:
Day 2 Photo Gallery | Dantonio Restructures Coaching Staff | Day 2 Practice Update

A day after Pat Narduzzi was officially introduced as head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio announced after Saturday's practice the restructuring of his defensive staff for the 2015 season. Secondary coach Harlon Barnett and linebackers/special teams coach Mike Tressel, who have both been on Dantonio's staff since his arrival at MSU in 2007, have been promoted to co-defensive coordinators. Barnett also has been named assistant head coach.

"It's important to move the process forward, and I feel very comfortable in naming Harlon Barnett assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator and Mike Tressel co-defensive coordinator," Dantonio said. "Harlon and Mike have been on my staff together for 11 years, including the past eight years at Michigan State. They both have had a ton of input and shared a lot of ideas with Pat Narduzzi over the years. The co-appointment ensures continuity in terms of player relationships, defensive concepts and terminology.

"I'm excited about maintaining our tradition of playing outstanding defense while continuing our quest for another Big Ten Championship."

Ron Burton, who is in his second season at Michigan State, will remain coaching the defensive line. In addition, Dantonio will hire a new defensive assistant in the offseason.

For complete reaction from Dantonio, Barnett and Tressel, along with a look back at Barnett and Tressel's coaching careers, check out the release at msuspartans.com.

On the practice field, the Spartans went for two-and-a-half hours in full pads at AT&T Stadium as they continued work for the 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic vs. No. 5 Baylor on Thursday, Jan. 1.

"It was a good practice," Dantonio said. "It was a long practice, but it's important for the players to get their legs back underneath them after the long layoff. We really needed to go that length to tax our players, working on different situations and dynamics."

For a complete practice report, visit the release on msuspartans.com.

Following practice, the entire team went to Main Event in Lewisville, Texas, for an evening of bowling, pool and arcade games.

Special Visitor Attends Practice
Former Michigan State linebacker Dixon Edwards, who helped the Spartans win a pair of Big Ten titles (1987 and 1990) and later became a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys (1992, 1993 and 1995), visited practice at AT&T Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

A four-year letterman for Coach George Perles, Edwards helped the Spartans to a combined record of 31-14-1 (.685) from 1987-90, including a 3-1 record in postseason bowl games with wins over USC (20-17) in the 1988 Rose Bowl, Hawaii (33-13) in the 1989 Aloha Bowl and USC (17-16) in the 1990 John Hancock Sun Bowl.

As a junior in 1989, he ranked second on the team in tackles with 111, trailing only All-American Percy Snow (172). His 11 tackles for loss (52 yards) tied for the team lead in 1989. As a senior in 1990, Edwards earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches after recording a career-best 112 tackles, including seven for losses (33 yards). His 227 career tackles rank No. 23 on MSU's all-time list.

Edwards was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round (No. 37 overall) of the 1991 National Football League Draft. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native spent eight years in the NFL (Dallas, 1991-95; Minnesota, 1996-98) and started 90 of 120 career games. While in Dallas, Edwards played on three Super Bowl champions (XXVII, XXVIII and XXX). His pro career totals included 438 tackles, 7.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

Note of the day...
Ranked fourth in The Associated Press Poll, Baylor equals MSU's highest-ranked AP opponent in a bowl game (No. 4 UCLA in 1956 Rose Bowl; No. 4 UCLA in 1966 Rose Bowl).

Quote of the day...
"Both Harlon and Mike have done a tremendous job in the individual day-to-day development of our players. Their relationships with our players are strong and true. I have a strong personal relationship with those two, and they will do an outstanding job in their new roles while continuing the legacy Michigan State has built on defense."
-Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio

Logo  Day 1: Friday, Dec. 26

MSUSpartans.com Coverage:
Practice Update No. 1 | Grinz on Green: Spartans Resume Preparation for Cotton Bowl | Photo Gallery | Introductory Press Conference Quotes | Day 1 Video Recap

The Michigan State football team arrived in Dallas on Friday morning as the No. 8 Spartans resumed preparations for the 79th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic against No. 5 Baylor. It was a busy and eventful first day.

Upon their arrival to the team hotel, the Hilton Anatole, the Spartans were greeted by the Townview Magnet Center Big "D" Marching Band and representatives of the Cotton Bowl Classic.

After a team meeting, Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio and co-captains Kurtis Drummond and Travis Jackson met with the media at an introductory news conference. Jackson didn't waste any time getting into the Texas mood, as he wore a cowboy hat during interviews.

"I'm excited to be in Texas," the fifth-year offensive lineman said. "I want to get into the culture, and I want to really enjoy it. I have heard nothing but great things about the people down here. I want to embrace that. So we'll start with the cowboy hat."

The Spartans then conducted a two-hour practice in shells at AT&T Stadium, site of the 79th Cotton Bowl Classic, which is set for Thursday, Jan. 1 at 12:30 p.m. EST.

"It was important to get into AT&T Stadium because it's such a unique venue," Dantonio said. "It was also important to knock the rust off and begin reconditioning after a six-day layoff. It was a productive practice, and the tempo was good. I also was impressed by the recall by our players after the Christmas break."

Michigan State joined Baylor for a Dallas Cowboys Welcome Dinner at AT&T Stadium following practice to conclude the first day of the bowl trip. The dinner menu included: brisket, short ribs, fried catfish fillets, mac and cheese, grits, baked beans, green beans, slaw, salad and Mexican Cornbread. Following dinner, MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis and Baylor Athletics Director Ian McCaw exchanged helmets, continuing a Spartan bowl tradition.

Narduzzi Named Head Coach at Pittsburgh
Michigan State assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi was named the head football coach at the University of Pittsburgh, the Panther Athletic Department announced Friday. Narduzzi was officially introduced at a press conference Friday in Pittsburgh.

Narduzzi will coach in his final game at Michigan State in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic as the No. 8 Spartans take on No. 5 Baylor Thursday, Jan. 1 in Arlington, Texas. During his introductory press conference, Narduzzi said he would coach MSU's defense one last time against Baylor "because it's unfinished business."

"I want to congratulate Pat Narduzzi on his appointment as head football coach at the University of Pittsburgh," said Dantonio. "Pat has been my defensive coordinator for the last 11 years, including the past eight seasons here at Michigan State. He's one of five coaches who have been here from the start (at MSU since 2007), so he's played an integral part in helping to build the foundation of our program.

"The success we've enjoyed over the last eight seasons, both collectively and on the defensive side of the football, has afforded Pat with this opportunity to become a head coach in a Power 5 Conference. That's a tremendous accomplishment, and he'll do an outstanding job at Pittsburgh. We wish him nothing but the best."

Quote of the day...
"It kind of felt like we were entering an amusement park. Although the stadium was empty today, I could feel the excitement."
- Senior All-America safety Kurtis Drummond on walking into AT&T Stadium

Note of the day...
Michigan State is making its fifth postseason bowl appearance in Texas, including its first trip to the Cotton Bowl. It marks MSU's sixth trip to Texas in its 118-year football history and the first since the 2010 Alamo Bowl in San Antonio against Texas Tech.


 

 

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