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MICHIGAN STATE NOTESDecember 04, 2011
Michigan State in 2011: The Spartans will come to the Outback Bowl with a 10-3 record as the runner-up of the Big Ten Conference and Legends Division Champion. They are ranked 12th in the AP Poll and 13th in the USA Today Poll. The Spartans rank in the top two of the league in nine statistical categories including first in rushing defense, total defense, interceptions and sacks.
Spartans in the Bowls: This is the Spartans 22nd bowl appearance, but their first invitation to the Outback Bowl. They hold a 7-14 record in bowls, including a 3-1 mark in the Rose Bowl.
Spartans Tradition: This is the 115th season of football at Michigan State. The Spartans have a 637-430-44 record over their history and have won six National Championships and seven Big Ten Championships.
Feature Players: The Michigan State offense revolves around dynamic QB Kirk Cousins, the winningest quarterback in school history, who has completed 240-of-369 attempts for 3,106 yards, throwing 24 TDs and just seven interceptions. His favorite receiver is B.J. Cunningham with 72 catches for 1,240 yards and 12 TDs, including three scores in the conference championship game. Cunningham is the school’s career leader in receptions and receiving yards. Keshawn Martin has 62 receptions for 742 yards and 4 TDs. Martin also ranks second in the Big Ten in punt returns with an 11.8 yard average.
The Spartans ground game is led a tandem of tailbacks, including Le’Veon Bell who has 165 carries for 900 yards while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Bell also notched 11 TDs rushing. Edwin Baker rushed 164 times for 655 yards and 5 TDs.
The Spartans defense ranks fifth in the nation in total defense, with the help of linebacker Max Bullough who leads the team with 86 tackles including seven tackles for loss. Linebacker Denicos Allen has compiled 78 tackles, with 17 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He had four TFL and three sacks in the Big Ten Championship Game. Cornerback Johnny Adams (49 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 Int.) is a first-team All-Big Ten selection as is free safety Trenton Robinson (74 tackles, 4 Int.) and Chuck Bednarik Award semifinalist defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, who has 8.5 tackles for loss including 3.5 sacks.
Welcome Home: Two Spartan players will be returning home to west central Florida including safety Jairus Jones of Tampa (Wharton HS) and defensive end Denzel Drone of Plant City (Plant City HS).
Meet Coach Dantonio: Mark Dantonio is in his fifth season as head coach of the Spartans and holds a 43-22 record. He came to Michigan State from the University of Cincinnati where he was 18-17 over three seasons. In 2010, he was named Big Ten Coach of the Year as well as National Coach of the Year by CBSSports.com, Scout.com and Rivals.com.