Redbox Bowl: Michigan State (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten) vs. Oregon (8-4, 5-4 PAC-12)

Date: Monday, Dec. 31
Kickoff: 3 p.m. EST/12 p.m. PST
Location: Santa Clara, Calif.
Stadium: Levi’s Stadium (68,500)
Surface: Natural Grass
TV/Web/Mobile: FOX/FOX Sports Go
Announcers: Joe Davis (play-by-play), Brady Quinn (analyst), Bruce Feldman (sideline)
Radio: Spartan Sports Network | Affiliate Listings
Satellite Radio: Ch. 83 (Sirius), Ch. 83 (XM), Ch. 83 (SiriusXM.com)
All-Time Series: Tied, 3-3

COACHES:
MSU Head Coach: Mark Dantonio
MSU Record: 107-50 (12th year)
Overall Record: 125-67 (15th year)
Record vs. Oregon: 1-1

Oregon Head Coach: Mario Cristobal
Oregon Record: 8-5 (first year)
Overall Record: 35-52 (seventh year)
Record vs. MSU: 0-0

FIRST-AND-10 –
• Michigan State is looking for its second straight bowl win and sixth in the last seven tries as the Spartans take on Oregon in the Redbox Bowl on Monday, Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. EST/12 p.m. PST from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The game will be televised nationally on FOX, with Joe Davis, Brady Quinn and Bruce Feldman on the call. The Spartans finished the regular season with a 7-5 overall record and went 5-4 in the Big Ten, while Oregon went 8-4 overall and placed fourth in the Pac-12 North Division with a 5-4 conference mark. It will be the first-ever matchup between the two schools in a bowl game.

• Now in his 12th season as head coach of the Spartans, Mark Dantonio owns a 107-50 (.682) record. He is one of just eight active FBS coaches to own at least 100 victories at his current school. For the fourth time in his career, Dantonio was named a semifinalist in 2017 for the George Munger College Coach of the Year, presented by the Maxwell Football Club. Dantonio has won the most Big Ten Championships (three) and bowl games (five) of any Spartan head coach and also ranks first with 11 bowl appearances. He is the only Big Ten coach to win multiple Big Ten Championships (2010, 2013, 2015), claim a victory in the Rose Bowl (2014), and coach in the College Football Playoff (2015).

• The second-winningest coach in school history with 107 victories, trailing only Hall of Famer Duffy Daugherty (109), Dantonio also ranks first in program history in conference winning percentage (.657, 65-34 record, minimum 10 games); tied for first in AP Top 25 finishes (seven); second in Big Ten wins (65), home wins (63) and AP Top 25 wins (21); and fifth in overall winning percentage (.682).

• Michigan State is making its 28th all-time appearance in a bowl game and its 11th under Dantonio, the most bowl games of any coach in program history. MSU set a school record with nine consecutive bowl appearances from 2007-15, including a school-record four-game winning streak (2011 Outback Bowl over No. 18 Georgia; 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl over TCU; 2014 Rose Bowl over No. 5 Stanford; 2015 Cotton Bowl over No. 4 Baylor). MSU is 12-15 all-time in bowl games and 5-5 under Dantonio. Dantonio’s five bowl wins, including last year’s Holiday Bowl against No. 18 Washington State, are also a school record.

• Michigan State ranks first in the FBS in rushing defense, allowing just 81.3 yards per game. The Spartans have held their opponent to under 100 yards rushing seven times this season. MSU also has only given up 29 rushes of 10-plus yards, which is tied for fewest in the FBS.

• In addition to leading the FBS in rushing defense, the Spartans also rank among the national leaders in third-down conversion defense (12th at .315), scoring defense (13th at 18.0 ppg) and total defense (14th at 311.5 ypg). MSU has held its opponents to 21 or fewer points nine times, and although Ohio State scored 26 points on Nov. 10, the defense allowed just 17 points (two TDs and one field goal). Utah State, who ranks third in the FBS in scoring offense (47.5 ppg), is the only team score more than 30 points on the Spartans this season (31). The Spartans have also allowed just 12 touchdowns in the red zone, fourth fewest in the FBS.

• The MSU-Oregon all-time series is tied 3-3, as the home team has won the six previous meetings. This will be the first neutral-site matchup. Dantonio is 1-1 against Oregon, with a win over the No. 7 Ducks in Spartan Stadium in 2015 en route to a Big Ten Championship. Oregon won the 2014 matchup in Eugene on its way to winning the Pac-12 title. Both of those matchups featured AP Top 10 clashes and the winners eventually secured berths in the College Football Playoff.

• Junior defensive end Kenny Willekes, who entered the program as a walk-on linebacker for the 2015 season, has emerged as one of the top pass rushers in the nation. Named the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and a first-team All-American selection by The Athletic, he leads the conference in tackles for loss (20.5 for 84 yards) and ranks fourth in sacks (8.5 for 60 yards), totals which also rank among the national leaders (seventh in TFLs, tied for 28th in sacks). According to Pro Football Focus, Willekes leads all defensive ends in the FBS with 21 quarterback hits. The native of Rockford, Michigan, is MSU’s active leader in tackles for loss (tied for ninth overall in school history with 35.0) and sacks (10th in school history with 15.5). Willekes’ 20.5 tackles for loss rank second most in an MSU season.

• With the win at Maryland on Nov. 3, Michigan State became bowl eligible for the 11th time in 12 seasons under head coach Mark Dantonio. In addition,  MSU also won its 700th game in school history. The Spartans own an all-time record of 701-458-44 (.601) in 1,203 games. MSU became the 27th school in the FBS to win 700 games. The Spartans also secured their 10th winning season under Dantonio with a victory over Rutgers in the regular-season finale. MSU has wins over three bowl teams: Utah State, Penn State and Purdue.

• The Spartans are 6-1 in bowl games in the state of California. MSU owns the highest winning percentage of any team with at least five appearances in the Rose Bowl (.800 at 4-1) and also won the 2001 Silicon Valley Bowl over Fresno State in San Jose, California, and the 2017 Holiday Bowl against Washington State in San Diego.

 

STAT LEADERS –
Michigan State:

Rushing – Connor Heyward (114 carries for 520 yards, 4.6 avg., 43.3 ypg, 5 TDs)
Passing – Brian Lewerke (162-of-299, .542, 1,868 yards, 186.8 ypg, 8 TDs, 10 INTs)
Receiving – Darrell Stewart (39 catches for 368 yards, 9.4 avg., 36.8 ypg, 1 TD)
Tackles – Joe Bachie (94 tackles, 42 solo, 52 assists, 8.5 TFLs, 1 sack, 5 PBUs)

Oregon:
Rushing – CJ Verdell (188 carries for 975 yards, 5.2 avg., 81.2 ypg, 10 TDs)
Passing – Justin Herbert (221-of-371 for 2,985 yards, 248.8 ypg, 28 TDs, 8 INTs)
Receiving – Dillon Mitchell (69 catches for 1,114 yards, 16.1 avg, 92.8 ypg, 9 TDs)
Tackles – Troy Dye (107 tackles, 60 solo, 47 assists, 7.0 TFLs, 1 sack, 7 PBUs)

A QUICK GLANCE AT OREGON (8-4, 5-4 PAC-12)
• The Ducks bring an 8-4 overall record into the Redbox Bowl after posting a 5-4 mark in Pac-12 play. Oregon won its first three and five of first six to open 5-1, then lost three of its next four to slide to 6-4 before winning last two games, including 31-29 in home win over Arizona State on Nov. 17 and a 55-15 rout of rival Oregon State in the Civil War rivalry game on Nov. 23.

• Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal is in first season after being Oregon’s co-offensive coordinator last season.

• The Ducks surpassed their win total from 2017 and picked up their eighth win in a season for the first time since winning nine in 2015.

• Oregon’s offense is 17th in the nation in scoring, averaging 37.2 points per game, including scoring 21+ points in the first half in eight games this season. The Ducks are 31st in FBS in total offense (445.9 ypg), ranking 43rd in the nation in passing offense (254.7 ypg) and 48th in the country in rushing offense (191.3 ypg).

• Defensively, the Ducks allow 27.0 points per game, ranking 63rd in the nation. Oregon is 62nd in the country in total defense, yielding 390.5 ypg, ranking 42nd in rushing defense (143.1 ypg) and 96th in passing yards allowed (247.4 ypg).

• The UO offense is led by junior quarterback Justin Herbert with 248.8 passing yards per game, 28 TDs and eight interceptions. Herbert adds 14.4 rushing yards per game and has two rushing TDs on season. He threw for 2,985 yards on season. Herbert is 10th in FBS in passing TDs (28), as well as 19th in points responsible for per game (15.3), 20th in passing yards per completion (13.5) and 26th in passing yards per game (248.8).

• Herbert has a TD pass in 27 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the nation. He has 62 career TD passes, currently number three all-time at Oregon, as well as sixth in single-season passing list with 2,985 yards.

• Redshirt freshman running back CJ Verdell has 975 rushing yards this season with 10 rushing TDs, averaging 81.2 yards per game. Verdell had five games with 100+ rushing yards, including career-high 187 yards with four TDs in last game, at Oregon State.

• Oregon’s leading receiver is junior wide receiver Dillon Mitchell with 69 catches for 1,114 yards with nine TDs. The second-team All-Pac-12 selection has a reception in 17 straight games. He is 15th in FBS in total receiving yards, while ranking 17th in receiving yards per game (92.8) and 32nd in receptions per game (5.8).

• The Duck defense is led by junior inside linebacker and second-team All-Pac-12 honoree Troy Dye, who has 107 tackles this season with seven tackles for loss and seven pass break-ups. Dye is 48th in the nation in solo tackles per game (5.0) and 51st in total tackles per game (8.9). Dye is the 15th player in program history to reach 300 career tackles, now with 305.

• Senior outside linebacker Justin Hollins has a team-high 12 tackles for loss with five sacks and four forced fumbles, while first-team All-Pac-12 defensive lineman Jalen Jelks has 54 tackles, including 7.5 TFLs and 3.5 sacks.

• Sophomore cornerback Thomas Graham Jr., has team-best 16 pass break-ups, and three interceptions for 19 passes defended, ranking fifth in FBS in both pass break-ups (16) and passes defended (19), along with tied for sixth in the country in passes defended per game (1.6).

• Sophomore placekicker Adam Stack is 35-of-35 on PATs, as well as 6-of-10 (.600) on field goals, with a long of 39 yards. Fellow sophomore placekicker Zach Emerson is 21-of-22 on PATs and 0-1 on field goals.

• Junior punter Blake Maimone has punted 38 times for a 43.2 yards per punt average with a long of 59 yards, one of eight punts of 50+ yards, with 13 inside the 20. Freshman punter Tom Snee has 18 punts with a 34.6 ypp average with a long of 51 yards, pinning five inside the 20.

 

MSU/OREGON SERIES NOTES –
• The MSU-Oregon all-time series is tied 3-3, as the home team has won the six previous meetings. This will be the first neutral-site matchup. Dantonio is 1-1 against Oregon, with a win over the No. 7 Ducks in Spartan Stadium in 2015 en route to a Big Ten Championship. Oregon won the 2014 matchup in Eugene on its way to winning the Pac-12 title. Both of those matchups featured AP Top 10 clashes and the winners eventually secured berths in the College Football Playoff.

• Dantonio was also on MSU’s staff as a secondary coach when MSU and Oregon split a home-and-home series in 1998 and 1999.

• In the first-ever matchup, No. 10 MSU defeated Oregon, 41-17, in Spartan Stadium in 1979. The Ducks bounced back with a 35-7 win in Eugene in 1980.

SPARTAN BOWL HISTORY –
• Michigan State is making its 28th bowl appearance overall and 11th under 12th-year head coach Mark Dantonio. The Spartans are 12-15 overall (.444) in bowl games and 5-5 under Dantonio. Dantonio’s five bowl wins and 11 bowl appearances are both school records.

• Michigan State is playing in a bowl game for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons. MSU played in a school-record nine consecutive bowl games from 2007-15 (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 Classic, 2015 College Football Playoff Semifinal at Cotton Bowl Classic). The Spartans won their fifth bowl game under Dantonio with a 42-17 victory over Washington State in the 2017 Holiday Bowl.

• The Spartans tied a Big Ten record and set a school record with their four-game bowl winning streak (2011 Outback Bowl over No. 18 Georgia; 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl over TCU; 2014 Rose Bowl over No. 5 Stanford; 2015 Cotton Bowl over No. 4 Baylor).

 

DANTONIO NO STRANGER TO POSTSEASON PLAY –
• Mark Dantonio is making his 26th appearance in postseason play (as a graduate assistant, assistant coach or head coach), including four NCAA I-AA playoffs and 21 bowl games. Dantonio has compiled an 11-10 record in bowl games, including a 6-5 mark as head coach (5-5 at MSU, 1-0 at Cincinnati).

• Dantonio will be making his 11th bowl appearance at MSU, extending his school record for most bowl appearances by a head coach (previous record: George Perles with seven from 1983-94). Dantonio is 5-5 in bowl games at Michigan State, including a school-record four-game winning streak (2012 Outback, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings, 2014 Rose; 2015 Cotton). Dantonio has led his teams to 13 bowl appearances in 15 seasons as a head coach (11 at MSU, two at Cincinnati; did not coach in 2007 International Bowl with UC).

• Dantonio will be coaching in the 22nd bowl game of his career in the Redbox Bowl.

SPARTANS IN THE BAY AREA –
• The Spartans have an all-time record of 4-4-1 in games played in the Bay Area. MSU’s last trip to the Bay Area was a 38-31 loss at Cal in the 2008 season opener. In postseason play, the Spartans upset No. 20 Fresno State, 44-35, in the 2001 Silicon Valley Football Classic in San Jose, California.

PLENTY OF SPARTAN CONNECTIONS IN THE BAY AREA –
• There are numerous Michigan State connections in the Bay Area. Former Spartans who are currently professional athletes in the Bay Area include San Francisco 49ers tight end Garrett Celek, Oakland Raiders linebacker Shilique Calhoun, and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.

• A three-year letterwinner (2008-09, 2011) under Mark Dantonio, Celek is in his seventh season with the 49ers; he has 82 receptions for 1,104 yards and 12 TDs in 85 career NFL games, including 30 starts.

• Calhoun, who was a two-time captain (2014-15) and four-year letterwinner (2012-15), helped Michigan State to two Big Ten Championships (2013, 2015) and three top-10 finishes in the national polls (No. 3 in 2013, No. 5 in 2014, No. 6 in 2015). The Middletown, New Jersey, native was one of only eight Spartans in program history and the first defensive lineman to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors three times (2013-15). He had 131 career tackles, including 44 for losses (268 yards) with 27 sacks (211 yards), and finished his career tied for the most games played ever by a Spartan (54). A third-round NFL Draft selection in 2016 by the Raiders, he is in his third season in Oakland.

• Before helping the Warriors to three NBA Championships, Green was an All-American at Michigan State and was named the National Player of the Year as a senior in 2012. A three-time captain, Green is the program’s all-time leading rebounder (1,096) and ranks 18th in scoring (1,517 points). Green appeared in full pads during MSU’s 2011 spring game and played one snap at tight end; the clip has been viewed more than 50,000 times on YouTube.

ELEVEN SPARTANS EARN ALL-BIG TEN HONORS –
• A total of 11 Michigan State players earned All-Big Ten recognition this season, including first-team selections Joe Bachie (Jr., LB), Matt Coghlin (So., PK) and Kenny Willekes (Jr., DE).

• Willekes was also named the Smith-Brown Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. He became the seventh Spartan to win a Big Ten position player of the year award since the conference began awarding them in 2011 (Shilique Calhoun, defensive lineman of the year in 2013; Darqueze Dennard and Kurtis Drummond, defensive back of the year in 2013 and 2014; Tony Lippett and Aaron Burbridge, receiver of the year in 2014 and 2015; Connor Cook, quarterback of the year in 2015).

• Since 2007, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio has helped produce 40 first-team All-Big Ten selections.

 

2018 SENIOR CLASS IS NINTH-WINNINGEST IN SCHOOL HISTORY –
• The 2018 Senior Class has helped Michigan State to a 32-19 (.627) record since 2015, including three bowl berths (2015 College Football Playoff Semifinal at Cotton Bowl, 2017 Holiday Bowl, 2018 Redbox Bowl) and one Big Ten Championship (2015). The 32 wins rank ninth most by a senior class in school history.

• Michigan State’s 19-member 2018 Senior Class includes: DE Dillon Alexander (Forsyth, Ga.), OG David Beedle(Clarkston, Mich.), LB Byron Bullough (Traverse City, Mich.), LS Collin Caflisch (Canton, Mich.), WR Felton Davis III(Richmond, Va.), LB Andrew Dowell (North Ridgeville, Ohio), TE Chase Gianacakos (St. Charles, Ill.), FB Ben Line(Oxford, Mich.), OL Noah Listermann (Cincinnati, Ohio), FB Collin Lucas (Avon Lake, Ohio), QB Mickey Macius(Arlington Heights, Ill.), LB Grayson Miller (Georgetown, Ky.), S Matt Morrissey (Lincolnshire, Ill.), DT Gerald Owens(Thorofare, N.J.), LB Jon Reschke (Sterling Heights, Mich.), RB LJ Scott (Youngstown, Ohio), CB Tyson Smith (Detroit, Mich.), TE Matt Sokol (Rochester, Mich.) and S Khari Willis (Jackson, Mich.).

SPARTANS HAVE HAD TO OVERCOME MULTIPLE INJURIES TO KEY PERSONNEL IN 2018 –
• Michigan State has suffered a rash of injuries this season to key personnel. The Spartans tied for the most returning starters in the FBS with 22, but 11 of those returning starters have missed time this season due to injury, including nine on offense, one on defense and one on special teams. From the preseason depth chart, 13 of MSU’s 24 starters (including specialists) have missed time due to injury.

• On offense, senior wide receiver Felton Davis III was lost for the season after injuring his Achilles tendon in the first half of the Michigan game on Oct. 20.

• Junior quarterback Brian Lewerke had his streak of 20 consecutive starts snapped as he was regulated to just holding duties against Purdue on Oct. 27 due to a shoulder injury; he returned to the starting lineup against Maryland (Nov. 3) and Ohio State (Nov. 10), but missed the last two games of the regular season vs. Nebraska and Rutgers.

• Senior running back LJ Scott has only played in four games, but will play in the Redbox Bowl against Oregon. Scott left the Arizona State game on Sept. 8 in the second half with an ankle injury and didn’t return until Oct. 20 vs. Michigan; he also played against Purdue on Oct. 27.

• Junior left tackle Cole Chewins entered the season with 16 straight starts, but didn’t play his first full game in 2018 until game six at Penn State as he worked his way back from an injury he suffered in preseason camp.

• Sophomore right guard Kevin Jarvis missed four games due to an injury he suffered in the second half at Indiana on Sept. 22; he returned to the starting lineup Nov. 10 vs. Ohio State.

• Sophomore wide receiver Cody White, the team’s leading receiver with 491 yards on 36 catches, broke his hand in the second quarter vs. Central Michigan on Sept. 29 and missed four games before returning to the starting lineup at Maryland on Nov. 3.

• Starting left guard David Beedle suffered an injury on MSU’s first series against Northwestern on Oct. 6 and missed six straight games before returning in a reserve role in the regular-season finale vs. Rutgers.

• Junior wide receiver Darrell Stewart missed two games (Central Michigan, Penn State) with an ankle injury.

• Starting center Matt Allen missed three games (Purdue, Maryland, Ohio State) due to an injury he suffered against Michigan on Oct. 20.
• In addition, freshman wide receiver Jalen Nailor, who scored two TDs at Indiana including a 75-yard run in the fourth quarter, has missed five games with an injury (CMU, NU, PSU, OSU, Nebraska).

• Defensively, sophomore cornerback Josiah Scott, a 2017 Freshman All-American, had his meniscus repaired during preseason camp and didn’t return to the starting lineup until the ninth game of the season at Maryland on Nov. 3. Scott’s replacement in the starting lineup, junior cornerback Josh Butler, started four of the first five games of the season, but hasn’t seen action the last seven games with an injury.

• Entering the 2018 season, Michigan State had only three full-time starting punters in the Mark Dantonio era: Aaron Bates (2007-10), Mike Sadler (2011-14) and Jake Hartbarger (2015-present). This season alone, MSU has had four starting punters, and is one of only two schools to have had five different players punt this season. Hartbarger was injured in the fourth quarter at Arizona State –  just one quarter after he booted a career-long 74-yarder – and Dantonio announced on Oct. 9 that Hartbarger would be out the rest of the season and will apply for a sixth year of eligibility. Redshirt freshman walk-on Tyler Hunt, who started five games in place of Hartbarger, was also lost for the season after suffering a non-contact knee injury (torn ACL) in practice before the Purdue game. Redshirt freshman walk-on Bryce Baringer, who joined the team in mid-September, started three games (Purdue, Maryland, Ohio State), but didn’t travel to Nebraska due to an injury. True freshman walk-on William Przystupmade his collegiate debut vs. Ohio State on Nov. 10 and made his first career start at Nebraska on Nov. 17.

• From the preseason depth chart, 13 of MSU’s 24 starters (including specialists) have missed time due to injury.

LJ SCOTT WILL FINISH HIS SPARTAN CAREER IN THE REDBOX BOWL –
• Although he has had to battle injuries this season and has only played in four games, senior running back LJ Scottwill leave campus as one of the top running backs in school history. The 6-1, 225-pound Scott currently ranks ninth in MSU history in carries (586), 10th rushing yards (2,771) and tied for 12th in rushing touchdowns (25). He has played in 42 career games, including 22 starts, and led the Spartans in rushing in 2015 (699 yards and 11 TDs), 2016 (994 yards and six TDs) and 2017 (898 yards and 8 TDs).

• Scott has accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 26, 2019, in Mobile, Alabama. After playing in only four games during the regular season, Scott had an option to return for another year in East Lansing due to the new NCAA redshirt rule, but he announced on Dec. 5 he would be leaving MSU to train for the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft.

• The Youngstown, Ohio, native started the first two games of the year vs. Utah State (Aug. 31) and Arizona State (Sept. 8), but suffered an ankle injury at ASU. After missing four straight games, he returned to the starting lineup against Michigan (Oct. 20) and Purdue (Oct. 27), but left the Purdue game early with an injury. Scott has 180 yards on 55 carries (45.0 ypg; 3.3 avg.) in 2018.

• Scott has nine career 100-yard rushing games, including three in 2017 (career-high 194 yards at Minnesota on Oct. 14; 147 vs. Maryland on Nov. 18; 110 vs. Washington State on Dec. 28).

• In Scott’s absence this season, sophomore Connor Heyward (114 carries for 520 yards), who played five different positions in high school (QB, WR, RB, S, P), and true freshman La’Darius Jefferson (78 carries for 255 yards), a high school quarterback, have received the bulk of the workload in the backfield. Redshirt freshman Weston Bridgeshas also seen brief time in the playing rotation with 16 carries for 53 yards.

BRIAN LEWERKE RANKS AMONG BIG TEN LEADERS IN PASSING AND TOTAL OFFENSE –
• Junior quarterback Brian Lewerke had his streak of 20 consecutive starts snapped against Purdue on Oct. 27 due to a shoulder injury; he returned to the starting lineup against Maryland (Nov. 3) and Ohio State (Nov. 10) but missed the final two games of the regular season (Nebraska, Rutgers). Lewerke did still serve as the team’s holder on special teams in those three games (seeing time only as a holder does not officially count as a game played by NCAA).

• Lewerke ranks ninth in the Big Ten in passing (186.8 ypg) and 10th in total offense (198.9 ypg). The Phoenix, Arizona, native has completed 54 percent of his passes (162-of-299) for 1,868 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions in nine games at QB. He threw for a season-high 329 yards, the fourth-highest output of his career, against Northwestern on Oct. 6, and has thrown for more than 200 yards in five of nine games in 2018.

• In his first full year as the starter in 2017, Brian Lewerke became the first quarterback in school history to throw for more than 2,500 yards and rush for more than 500 yards in the same season. Lewerke finished 2017 with the second-most yards of total offense in an MSU season with 3,352 (Drew Stanton with 3,415 in 2005). He also finished the 2017 campaign ranked among MSU’s single-season leaders in passing completions (third with 246), passing attempts (fourth with 417), passing yards (seventh with 2,793) and touchdown passes (tied for eighth with 20). He rushed for 559 yards on 124 carries with five TDs. In nine games this season, Lewerke has rushed 74 times, gaining 266 yards and losing 145 for a net total of 121.

• In 2017, Lewerke set MSU sophomore records for total offense (3,352 yards), passing yards (2,793), passing attempts (417) and passing completions (246). He also finished the season with 559 yards rushing on 124 carries, the fourth most by a Spartan quarterback in a single season and the most since Drew Stanton had 687 in 2004.

• Lewerke was named the 2017 Holiday Bowl Offensive MVP after finishing with 286 yards of total offense against Washington State. He was 13-of-21 passing for 213 yards and three touchdowns, and set a Spartan bowl record for most rushing yards by a quarterback (14 carries for 73 yards). Lewerke was 9-of-10 passing for 162 yards and two TDs in the second quarter alone. Lewerke’s three touchdown passes tied a Spartan bowl record (accomplished three previous times).

• A week after setting numerous school records at Northwestern on Oct. 28, 2017, Lewerke had another impressive game against Penn State on Nov. 4, becoming the first Spartan quarterback to throw for 400 yards in back-to-back games. He threw for a school-record 445 yards at Northwestern, and for 400 against Penn State; the 400 yards tied for the second-most yards by a Spartan QB in a single game (Bill Burke with 400 in win over Michigan in 1999). Lewerke became one of just three Big Ten quarterbacks in the last 20 years to throw for 400 yards in two consecutive games (Drew Brees, Purdue, 1998; C.J. Bacher, Northwestern, 2007).

• Lewerke set school single-game records for passing yards (445), total offense (475) and completions (39) in the triple-overtime loss at Northwestern on Oct. 28, 2017. His 57 passing attempts also marked a career high and tied for the second most in school history (record: 61 by Brian Hoyer vs. Penn State in 2006); MSU’s previous single-game records were 400 passing yards (Bill Burke vs. Michigan, 1999), 416 yards of total offense (Connor Cook vs. Indiana, 2015) and 35 completions (Jeff Smoker vs. Ohio State, 2003). Lewerke also threw a career-high four touchdowns against the Wildcats, tied for the second most in school history (accomplished 13 previous times). Lewerke’s 445 yards passing and 475 total yards against Northwestern were both the most by a Big Ten quarterback in a single game in 2017.

• Lewerke played in four games and started twice (Northwestern, Maryland) as a redshirt freshman in 2016 before suffering a season-ending injury (broken tibia) in the fourth quarter of the Michigan game on Oct. 29. He bounced back quickly from the injury and fully participated in all of spring practice in 2017. In 2016, Lewerke became the first Spartan freshman quarterback to start a game (Northwestern) since 2004 (Stephen Reaves vs. Central Michigan).

• In 26 career games (15-9 record in 24 games as the starter), Lewerke has completed 57 percent of his passes (439-for-773) for 5,042 yards, 30 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He has 829 career rushing yards on 219 carries (30.7 ypg; 3.8 avg.).

• Lewerke became the 10th Spartan quarterback in school history to surpass 5,000 career passing yards in the Ohio State game. He was 11-of-28 for 128 yards against the Buckeyes and now has 5,042 passing yards.

• Lewerke is also one of just eight Spartans to collect more than 5,000 yards of total offense in his career; he curently ranks sixth in MSU history with 5,871 total yards.

LOMBARDI FILLS IN AT QB FOR LEWERKE VS. PURDUE, NAMED B1G FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK –
• Filling in for the injured Brian Lewerke, redshirt freshman quarterback Rocky Lombardi was named the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week after leading the Spartans to a 23-13 victory over Purdue on Oct. 27 in his first career start. Lombardi threw for 318 yards against the Boilermakers and completed 26-of-46 passes, including two touchdowns (11 yards to Darrell Stewart in second quarter; 48 yards to Jalen Nailor in fourth quarter).

• Lombardi’s 318 yards passing were the second most by a Spartan QB making his first career start (Ed Smith threw for 324 yards in his first career start at North Carolina State in 1976). In addition, Lombardi’s 318 passing yards were the second-most ever by a Spartan QB against Purdue (Bill Burke 345 vs. Purdue in 1998).

• Lombardi was the first redshirt freshman QB to start for the Spartans since Lewerke vs. Northwestern in 2016.

• At the end of the first half, Lombardi directed a nine-play, 87-yard TD drive in just 1:26, capped by Stewart’s 11-yard TD with 56 seconds left in the second quarter; Lombardi was 6-of-8 for 85 yards on the TD drive. The 87-yard drive was the longest of the season for MSU.

• Lombardi started the final two games of the regular season at Nebraska on Nov. 17 and against Rutgers on Nov. 24 in Spartan Stadium. In his second career start at quarterback vs. Nebraska on Nov. 17, Lombardi collected 199 yards of total offense. He completed 15-of-41 passes for 146 yards and ran for a career-high 53 yards on nine carries (5.9 avg.). In the win over Rutgers, Lombardi was 19-of-43 for 173 yards, one TD and one interception.

• Lombardi has played quarterback in seven games this season (eight games overall; punted once in an emergency situation at Arizona State). He is 68-of-154 (.442) passing for 738 yards, three TDs and three interceptions.

MR. VERSATILE: CONNOR HEYWARD NAMED FINALIST FOR PAUL HORNUNG AWARD –
• Sophomore running back Connor Heyward was named one of five finalists for the Paul Hornung Award, which is given to the most versatile player in college football. Heyward leads the Spartans in rushing (114 carries for 520 yards), rushing touchdowns (5), kick returns (13 for 287 yards) and all-purpose yards (1,056). He also ranks third on the team in scoring (30 points; five TDs) and receptions (32 for 249 yards). His 32 receptions are the most by a Spartan running back since Le’Veon Bell (32 in 2012).

• Heyward received Michigan State’s Downtown Coaches Club Award for the most outstanding player on offense. He was also named honorable mention All-Big Ten as a kick returner by the media.

• In the win over Maryland on Nov. 3, Heyward ran for a career-high 157 yards on 15 carries and tied his career high with two rushing touchdowns. He scored on an 18-yard TD in the first quarter and on an 80-yard TD in the fourth quarter that put MSU on top 24-3; Heyward’s 80-yard TD run was the longest of the season for MSU and the first Spartan rushing TD of at least 80 yards since 2014 (Delton Williams 80 yards vs. Eastern Michigan). Heyward also had a career-high 208 all-purpose yards (157 rushing, 49 kick return, 2 receiving), including a season-long 49-yard kickoff return to open the second half. Heyward’s 157 rushing yards were the most ever by a Spartan against Maryland (previous: LJ Scott with 147 yards in 2017).

• Heyward collected 177 all-purpose yards at Nebraska on Nov. 17, his second-best output of the season. On the ground, Heyward had a career-high 21 carries for 80 yards; he also had five receptions for a career-best 78 yards, including a career-long 36-yard catch in the third quarter and a 34-yard catch in the fourth quarter. In addition, he had a 19-yard kickoff return.

• In MSU’s 21-17 win at No. 8 Penn State on Oct. 13, Heyward compiled 79 all-purpose yards, including a 26-yard run on a fake punt that set up MSU’s first TD scoring drive of the game. Later on that same drive, Heyward completed a 36-yard pass to Cam Chambers to make it first-and-goal for the Spartans.

• A native of Duluth, Georgia, Heyward scored two rushing touchdowns, including the game-winning 13-yard score with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, over Utah State in the season opener.

FELTON DAVIS III LOST FOR SEASON WITH ACHILLES INJURY –
• Senior wide receiver Felton Davis III suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the first half against Michigan on Oct. 20. Before his injury, Davis was leading MSU in receptions (31), receiving yards (474) and touchdown catches (4). Although he only played in seven games, he was still named honorable mention All-Big Ten by the coaches and media.

• The 6-4, 200-pound native of Richmond, Virginia, closes his career as one of 29 players in MSU history to record 100 receptions (100 even). He also ranks tied for 11th in the career record book in touchdown catches (14) and 26th in receiving yards (1,450). Davis played in 39 career games, including 20 consecutive starts, prior to the injury.

• Davis recorded his first 100-yard receiving game of the season and fourth of his career with eight catches for 100 yards in the victory at No. 8 Penn State on Oct. 13. Davis tied his career high with two touchdown receptions, including the game-winning 25-yard score with 19 seconds left in the game, and also caught a 20-yard TD pass from Lewerke in the third quarter that tied the game at 14. The game-winning TD catch was the 100th career reception for Davis, who was named the Spartan Offensive Player of the Week vs. PSU.

• The 6-4, 200-pound native of Richmond, Virginia, got off to an excellent start his senior season with three catches for 69 yards vs. Utah State, including a diving 31-yard grab late in the fourth quarter on MSU’s game-winning touchdown drive against the Aggies. During the game, Davis become the 43rd Spartan in school history to cross the 1,000-yard receiving mark for his career.

• Davis led a young receiving corps last season with career highs in receptions (55), receiving yards (776) and touchdown catches (9), all of which ranked among the Big Ten leaders (tied for third in TD catches with nine; tied for seventh in receptions at 4.2 pg; seventh in receiving yards at 59.7 ypg). Forty-three of his 55 receptions (78 percent) were for either a first down or a touchdown. He was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media and third team by the coaches.

SOPHOMORE WIDE RECEIVER CODY WHITE BACK IN STARTING LINEUP –
• Sophomore Cody White was having a sensational start to his second season in the Green and White with 20 catches for 300 yards in the first four games of the season, but unfortunately White suffered a broken hand in the second quarter of the Central Michigan game on Sept. 29 while diving for a catch in the end zone. White was forced to sit out four games but returned to action on Nov. 3 at Maryland, where he caught two passes for 24 yards. Although he missed four games, he still leads the Spartans in receiving yards (491; 61.4 ypg) and ranks second in receptions (36).
• White has two 100-yard receiving games this season (nine catches for 113 yards and one TD at Arizona State; eight for 115 vs. Ohio State).

• White, a BTN All-Freshman Team selection in 2017, closed his first year in the Green and White with the most receiving yards by a true freshman in school history with 490. His 35 catches were second most by a true freshman (Sedrick Irvin with 40 in 1996) and most by a true freshman wide receiver (B.J. Cunningham had 41 catches for 528 yards as a redshirt freshman in 2008). White recorded 30 of his 35 catches in the second half of the season.

• In his first career start, White was named the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week after setting a Spartan freshman single-game record with 165 receiving yards at Northwestern on Oct. 28, 2017. That total was also the 20th-most overall by an MSU player in a single game and the third most by a Spartan against Northwestern.

• In just 21 career games, including 14 starts, White has 71 catches for 981 yards and six touchdowns. He is 19 yards away from becoming the 30th receiver in Spartan history to record 1,000 career receiving yards.

SHUFFLING ALONG THE OFFENSIVE LINE –
• Michigan State featured nine different starting lineup combinations along the offensive line during the 12-game regular season. The only player to start all 12 games at the same position is sophomore right tackle Jordan Reid. Every other position on the offensive line has had three different starters.

• The only starter the Spartans lost from last season, Brian Allen, started every game at center, but was selected in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft and is now playing for the Los Angeles Rams. Junior Tyler Higby, who started 13 games at left guard over the course of 2016 and 2017, started the first two games at center, but sophomore Matt Allen took over the starting job at Indiana on Sept. 22 and started five games at center before missing three games (Purdue, Maryland, Ohio State) with an injury. Allen became the third member of the Allen family to start at center for the Spartans, joining his older brothers Jack and Brian. Redshirt freshman Blake Bueter, who earned a scholarship earlier this season, started four games at center in place of Allen after starting the previous three at right guard. Allen returned to action at center in the second half of the Nebraska game, and started the season finale vs. Rutgers.

• At left tackle, junior Cole Chewins, who started every game in 2017, played his first full game in 2018 at Penn State on Oct. 13 after battling back from an injury he suffered in preseason camp. He started at Arizona State on Sept. 8 but only played one snap from scrimmage. As Chewins rounded back into form, Tyler Higby started three games at left tackle before returning to his starting role at left guard. Sophomore Luke Campbell started the season opener vs. Utah State.

• At left guard, fifth-year senior David Beedle started the first two games but was limited at Indiana due to an injury; he returned to the starting lineup vs. CMU (Sept. 29) but was injured in the first series against Northwestern (Oct. 6) and missed six games. Campbell started once at left guard (at Indiana on Sept. 22). In Beedle’s absence, Tyler Higby has started the last seven games at left guard.

• At right guard, regular starter Kevin Jarvis suffered an injury in the second half of the Indiana game; he wound up missing four games overall and didn’t crack the starting lineup again until the Ohio State game on Nov. 10. Campbell (three games) and Bueter (three games) each saw time as the starter at right guard in Jarvis’ absence.

• Junior Tyler Higby, who entered the season with 13 career starts at left guard, started his first game of 2018 at left guard at Penn State on Oct. 13. Higby has started every game this season (first two at C, three at LT, last seven at LG), and is one of only two players in the FBS, along with Temple’s Jaelin Robinson, to start multiple games on the offensive line at three different positions. He has started in 25 career games (20 at LG, three at LT, two at C).

COLE CHEWINS NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN FOR SECOND YEAR IN A ROW –
• For the second year in a row, junior offensive tackle Cole Chewins has earned Academic All-America honors. Chewins, a first-team selection in 2017, was named to the second team in 2018. He also was named the 2018 recipient of the Michael R. Sadler Scholar-Athlete Award.

• A native of Clarkston, Michigan, Chewins owns a 3.91 grade-point average as a finance major. He graduated in December and has been accepted to begin a master’s program for finance in the 2019 spring semester. The 6-8, 290-pound Chewins has been MSU’s starting left tackle the past two seasons and has played in 35 career games, including 24 starts.

SPARTAN DEFENSE ONCE AGAIN ONE OF THE NATION’S BEST –
• On defense, the Spartans returned 23 letterwinners in 2018 and nine starters from a unit that finished ranked in the FBS Top 10 in rushing defense (No. 2 at 95.3 ypg) and total defense (No. 7 at 297.6 ypg) in 2017. Out of a possible 143 starting positions last season over the course of 13 games, the Spartans returned 120 of those starts (84 percent). Five of those nine returning starters started in all 13 games last season (LB Joe Bachie, LB Andrew Dowell, DT Mike Panasiuk, NT Raequan Williams, S Khari Willis).

• This year, eight players have started every game (LB Joe Bachie, LB Andrew Dowell, S David Dowell, CB Justin Layne, DT Mike Panasiuk, DE Kenny Willekes, NT Raequan Williams, S Khari Willis), one has started 11 (LB Tyriq Thompson), and one has started 10 (DE Jacub Panasiuk). The only position with three different starters has been at cornerback, due to Josiah Scott’s injury he suffered in preseason camp; however, Scott has started the last four games at cornerback, giving the Spartans remarkable consistency on defense. In fact, dating back to last season, six Spartans on defense have started 20-plus consecutive games (Andrew Dowell, Panasiuk, Williams with 28 straight; Bachie and Willis with 25 straight; David Dowell with 22 straight).

•  The Spartans are once again ranked among the national leaders in several defensive categories, including rushing defense (first at 81.3 ypg), third-down conversion defense (12th at .315), scoring defense (13th at 18.0 ppg) and total defense (14th at 311.5 ypg).

STOPPING THE RUN –
• Michigan State ranks first in the FBS in rushing defense, allowing just 81.3 yards per game. The Spartans have held their opponent to under 100-yards rushing seven times this season. MSU also ranked first in the Big Ten in conference games in rushing defense (93.8 ypg.).

• MSU also has only given up 29 rushes of 10-plus yards, which is tied for fewest in the FBS.

• MSU’s opponents have only run the ball 365 times (45 percent of snaps, 30.4 avg.), the fourth-fewest allowed in the FBS; however, MSU’s opponents have attempted 444 passes (55 percent of snaps, 37.0 avg.), ninth most among FBS teams.

• Stopping the run has been the main theme for MSU on defense in the Dantonio era, and it led to ranking No. 1 in the NCAA FBS in rushing defense in 2014 (88.5 ypg). Since the Big Ten began awarding stat champions in all games in 1985, Michigan State (2011-14) became only the second team in conference history to lead the league in rushing defense four years in a row (Michigan, 1990-93). The Spartans have been ranked in the Top 25 in rushing defense seven times in the last nine seasons, including a run of five straight years in the top 11 (2011-15). MSU led the Big Ten and ranked No. 2 in the FBS in rushing defense in 2017 (95.3 ypg).

• In 157 games under Dantonio, Michigan State has held its opponent under 100 yards rushing 79 times (.503). MSU is 68-11 (.861) in those games, including a 58-6 (.906) record since 2010.

MSU KEEPING OPPONENTS OFF THE SCOREBOARD –
• MSU has held its opponents to 21 or fewer points nine times, and although Ohio State scored 26 points on Nov. 10, the defense allowed just 17 points (two TDs and one field goal).

• After allowing 38 points to Utah State in the season opener – the Aggies rank third in the FBS in scoring offense (47.5 ppg) – MSU has not allowed a team to score 30 points again this season.

• Michigan State has allowed just 12 touchdowns in the red zone this season, fourth fewest in the FBS. Spartan opponents have only visited the red zone 30 times this season, tied for seventh fewest in the FBS, and in giving up 12 TDs, the 40 percent TD mark is third fewest in the nation.

• Overall, MSU ranks tied for 13th in the FBS scoring defense, allowing just 18.0 points per game. MSU ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in conference games in scoring defense (16.6 ppg.).

SPARTANS RANK TIED FOR 21ST IN FBS WITH 14 INTERCEPTIONS –
• Michigan State ranks tied for 21st in the FBS with 14 interceptions in 12 games this season.

• Ten different players – LB Joe Bachie, CB Shakur Brown, S David Dowell, CB Justin Layne, S Matt Morrissey, DT Mike Panasiuk, CB Josiah Scott, LB Antjuan Simmons, LB Tyriq Thompson and S Khari Willis – have recorded interceptions this season for MSU.

• Redshirt freshman cornerback Shakur Brown returned an interception 69 yards for a TD in the first quarter  at Indiana to give MSU a 14-0 lead. It was MSU’s first pick six since Tyson Smith vs. Bowling Green in 2017 and it marked MSU’s 30th defensive TD in the Dantonio era.

• Michigan State has recorded at least two interceptions in a game six times this season (Utah State, Indiana, Central Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue, Rutgers), including a season-high three vs. Purdue.

LINEBACKER JOE BACHIE LEADS SPARTAN DEFENSE IN THE MIDDLE –
• Junior captain Joe Bachie, who has started 25 consecutive games at middle linebacker, leads the Spartans in tackles for the second year in a row with 94. He became the third Spartan middle linebacker under Mark Dantonio, joining Greg Jones and Max Bullough, to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors (coaches, ESPN.com, Phil Steele).

• A consistent playmaker, Bachie has 8.5 tackles for loss, five pass break-ups, three forced fumbles, one interception and one fumble recovery. He earned the Downtown Coaches Club Award for the most outstanding Spartan player on defense.

• In the season opener against Utah State and with MSU holding on to a 38-31 lead late in the fourth quarter, Bachie sealed the win by batting down a pass at the line of scrimmage, then coming up with the interception. He has recorded double-digits in tackles four times this season (11 vs. Utah State; 10 vs. Arizona State; 10 vs. Michigan; 12 vs. Rutgers).

• Bachie was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for the third time in his career after helping lead MSU past Maryland on Nov. 3. Bachie was all over the field in the 24-3 victory over the Terrapins. The Brook Park, Ohio, native forced a career-high three fumbles, recovering one, and also had seven tackles, two tackles for loss (5 yards) and tied a career-high with two pass break-ups. Bachie’s impressive performance helped Michigan State hold Maryland to season lows in total yards (100) and rushing yards (26). In addition, the Spartans recorded five sacks (43 yards) and nine tackles for loss (54 yards).

• Bachie, who started all 13 games at middle linebacker as a sophomore for the Spartans in 2017 and led the team in tackles (100; 7.7 avg.), was named the recipient of the 2017 Governor’s Award, which is given annually to the program’s most valuable player as voted on by the team. He was the first Spartan sophomore to win the Governor’s Award since quarterback Drew Stanton in 2004.

• A third-team All-Big Ten choice by the coaches and media in 2017, Bachie was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week twice last season. In last season’s win at No. 7 Michigan, Bachie became just the second Big Ten linebacker and fifth in the FBS in the last five years (since 2012) to record double-digit tackles (10) and at least one interception, one forced fumble, one sack and one pass break-up in the same game.

• In 31 career games, including 25 consecutive starts, Bachie has 206 tackles, 19.0 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, four interceptions, seven pass break-ups, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He has recorded double-digits in tackles nine times in his career.

KENNY WILLEKES NAMED BIG TEN DEFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE YEAR, TEAM MVP –
• After leading the Big Ten with 20.5 tackles for loss during the regular season, junior defensive end Kenny Willekeswas named the 2018 Smith-Brown Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and a first-team All-American by The Athletic. Willekes is the second Spartan to win the award (Shilique Calhoun in 2013), which is named after MSU’s Bubba Smith and Penn State’s Courtney Brown and given to the Big Ten’s most outstanding defensive lineman, and is the first Spartan defensive end to earn first-team All-America honors since Robaire Smith in 1998. Willekes was also named to the All-Big Ten First Team by the coaches, media, Associated Press, Athlon Sports, ESPN.com, Phil Steele and Pro Football Focus, and earned second-team All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Phil Steele, Sporting News and Walter Camp Football Foundation.

• Willekes, who entered the program as a walk-on linebacker for the 2015 season, has emerged as one of the top pass rushers in the nation. A 6-4, 260-pound native of Rockford, Michigan, Willekes has collected a league-best 20.5 tackles for loss, good for second most in a Spartan single season and seventh most in the FBS in 2018. He also leads the Spartans with 8.5 sacks, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten. The junior has registered a career-high 76 tackles to rank first among all defensive lineman in the nation, including a career-high 13 against Ohio State on Nov. 3.

• Willekes was credited with a tackle for loss in 10 of MSU’s 12 regular-season games, including a career-high 3.5 against Ohio State and Nebraska in back-to-back games. He opened the season with six tackles, two sacks (19 yards) and a forced fumble in the win over Utah State, and also posted multiple TFLs against Indiana (2.0), Michigan (2.0) and Maryland (2.5).

• According to Pro Football Focus, Willekes leads all edge rushers with 21 quarterback hits, and ranks tied for fifth with 37 QB hurries.

• At the Spartan Football Awards banquet on Nov. 25, Willekes was named the recipient of the Governor’s Award (MVP), becoming the first Spartan defensive end to win the honor since its inception in 1931.

• A chemistry major, Willekes earned a scholarship in the spring of 2017 and hasn’t looked back since. The native of Rockford, Michigan, is MSU’s active leader in sacks (10th in school history with 15.5) and tackles for loss (12th in school history with 31.5). He ranks among the active career leaders in the FBS in tackles for loss (fourth at 1.35 per game) and sacks (tied for 13th with 0.60 per game).

• After playing in just one game as a redshirt freshman in 2016, Willekes earned third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2017 with a team-leading 14.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

• Willekes has recorded two sacks in a game five times in his career (2017: Michigan, Minnesota, Maryland; 2018: Utah State, Maryland).

SENIOR CAPTAIN KHARI WILLIS NAMED FINALIST FOR SENIOR CLASS AWARD –
• Michigan State senior safety Khari Willis is having a career year – both on and off the field. On Oct. 24, Willis was named one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I FBS senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Former Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins won the award in 2011.

• A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Willis owns a 3.24 grade-point average as an interdisciplinary studies in social science major, with an emphasis on community governance & advocacy, and graduated in December 2018. He was voted a captain by his teammates entering his senior season and has 193 tackles, 14 pass break-ups and four interceptions in 45 career games, including 29 starts. This season, Willis has recorded a career-high 81 tackles, eight pass break-ups and two interceptions for the Spartans, including a career-high 15 stops against Ohio State. He was named third-team All-Big Ten by the media and earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
• Willis was also a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is awarded annually by the National Football Foundation to the nation’s top scholar-athlete. The award is also widely known as the “Academic Heisman.” This marks the seventh time in the past eight years that the Spartans have had a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy. The Spartans had a finalist three of four years from 2011-14 (QB Kirk Cousins in 2011, LB Max Bullough in 2013, P Mike Sadler in 2014). Center Jack Allen, tight end Josiah Price and center Brian Allen were semifinalists the past three seasons.

• Willis was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after leading the Spartans with a season-high nine tackles, including seven solo stops, in MSU’s 21-17 win at No. 8 Penn State on Oct. 13. The Jackson, Michigan, native also forced a fumble on PSU quarterback Trace McSorley in the first quarter. Willis’ effort helped the Spartans hold Penn State to then-season lows in points (17) and first downs (14).

• Willis was the keynote player speaker at the 2018 Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago, and delivered an inspirational speech calling on his fellow Big Ten players to make a difference in their communities. He received a standing ovation and video of his speech went viral across social media (158,000 views on Twitter; 98,000 views on Facebook; nearly 10,000 on YouTube). The Jackson, Michigan, native was a candidate for the Wuerffel Trophy, presented annually to the player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement, and was MSU’s nominee for the Allstate/AFCA Good Works Team.

MIKE PANASIUK & RAEQUAN WILLIAMS CONSISTENT IN THE MIDDLE OF SPARTAN D-LINE –
• Junior defensive tackles Mike Panasiuk and Raequan Williams have started alongside each other on the interior of the defensive line for 28 consecutive games, dating back to the Ohio State game on Nov. 19, 2016. The duo is a big reason why MSU ranks No. 1 in the FBS in rushing defense this season and ranked No. 2 in the FBS in rushing defense last season.

• Williams, a first-team All-Big Ten selection by The Associated Press, has recorded career bests in tackles (49), tackles for loss (9.5) and pass break-ups (5) in 2018. The Chicago native ranks second among active Spartans with 20.5 career tackles for loss, including six career sacks, in 36 career games.

• Panasiuk, a stalwart on the Spartan defensive line with 28 straight starts at defensive tackle, was named honorable mention All-Big Ten for the second year in a row. Panasiuk’s numbers are hard to measure in terms of impact, but the Roselle, Illinois, native is a big reason why MSU ranks No. 1 in the FBS in rushing defense, allowing just 81.3 yards per game. Panasiuk has a career-high 4.5 tackles for loss and two pass break-ups, and leads the Spartan defensive tackles unit and ranks third overall on the team in production points. He recorded an interception and blocked a field goal in the fourth quarter in the victory over Purdue.

• In 37 career games, Panasiuk has 62 tackles, including 7.5 for losses with one sack.

ANDREW DOWELL SAVING HIS BEST SEASON FOR LAST –
• Senior linebacker Andrew Dowell earned his first career Big Ten honors with an outstanding senior season. Dowell ranks second on the team with a career-high 90 tackles and also has collected career bests in tackles for loss (8.0), sacks (3.0) and pass break-ups (8). He posted double-digit stops in three games, including a career-high 14 vs. Ohio State on Nov. 10. The 6-1, 225-pound native of North Ridgeville, Ohio, had three multiple-TFL games (2.0 each vs. Arizona State, Indiana and Michigan) and produced a career-high two sacks at Indiana.

• Dowell leads all active Spartans with 253 tackles in 50 career games, including 28 consecutive starts (33 overall). In addition to earning honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades in 2018, Dowell was named the team’s recipient of the Tommy Love Award for the most improved player on defense.

PLACEKICKER MATT COGHLIN NAMED FIRST-TEAM ALL-BIG TEN –
• A Lou Groza Award semifinalist, sophomore placekicker Matt Coghlin was a first-team All-Big Ten choice by the media. He ranks among Big Ten leaders in field goals made (third with 16), field-goal percentage (third at .842) and scoring (ninth at 7.0 ppg). Coghlin has made 16 of his 19 field-goal attempts this season (5-of-5 from 20-29 yards; 7-of-8 from 30-39 yards; 4-of-5 from 40-49 yards; 0-1 from 50-plus yards).

• Coghlin was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week against Indiana after he scored on a 6-yard TD run on a fake field goal in the third quarter and made all five of his point-after attempts. He became the first Spartan to score an offensive touchdown and then kick the PAT on his own TD since Sam Williams in 1958 against Wisconsin.

• Coghlin opened the season with three field goals in the win over Utah State, including a season-long 49-yarder, and also had multiple field-goal outings against Arizona State (2), Northwestern (2), Purdue (3), Ohio State (2) and Nebraska (2). He set a new school record with 18 consecutive field goals, dating back to last season, before a kick was blocked in the Purdue game. That streak was also tied for the fourth longest in Big Ten history.

• Coghlin is the sixth Spartan placekicker to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors, and the third under Mark Dantonio(Brett Swenson in 2009; Dan Conroy in 2012). The Cincinnati, Ohio, native currently ranks first in MSU history in field-goal percentage (31-of-38, .816).

• Coghlin also was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week after kicking the game-winning 34-yard field goal as time expired against No. 7 Penn State last season.

SPARTANS ONLY TEAM IN FBS WITH FOUR DIFFERENT STARTING PUNTERS –
• Entering the 2018 season, Michigan State had only three full-time starting punters in the Mark Dantonio era: Aaron Bates (2007-10), Mike Sadler (2011-14) and Jake Hartbarger (2015-present). This season alone, MSU has had four starting punters, most of any school in the FBS. In addition, MSU is one of only two schools (Kent State) to have had five different players punt this season.

• Hartbarger was injured in the fourth quarter at Arizona State on Sept. 8 – just one quarter after he booted a career-long 74-yarder – and Dantonio announced on Oct. 9 that Hartbarger would be out the rest of the season and will apply for a sixth year of eligibility.

• Redshirt freshman walk-on Tyler Hunt, who started five games in place of Hartbarger, was also lost for the season after suffering a non-contact knee injury (torn ACL) in practice before the Purdue game.

• Redshirt freshman walk-on Bryce Baringer, who joined the team in mid-September, has started three times (Purdue, Maryland, Ohio State) and has played in four games overall. He is averaging 32.4 yards per punt (15 punts for 486 yards), including four inside the 20 and two for 50-plus yards.

• True freshman walk-on William Przystup made his collegiate debut vs. Ohio State on Nov. 10 and punted five times for 231 yards (46.2 avg.), including two inside the 20. He started the final two games of the regular season against Nebraska and Rutgers. Przystup placed five of his eight punts inside the 20 in the win over Rutgers, including a 51-yarder that was downed at the Rutgers 1-yard line with 7:52 left in the fourth quarter that set up MSU’s eventual game-winning touchdown.

• A 6-2, 219-pound native of Gobles, Michigan, Hunt started five games at punter before his season-ending injury. He tied a school record with 11 punts for 457 yards (41.5 avg.) against Michigan on Oct. 20. His 41.5-yard average was a season high. The 11 punts as a team tied for second most in a single game in school history (record: 12 vs. Florida State in 1987; Greg Montgomery had 11 punts and one was blocked).

• Hunt placed a career-high five of his seven punts inside the 20 against Northwestern on Oct. 6, averaging 40.9 yards on seven punts, including a career-long 63-yarder. He punted 10 times at Penn State on Oct. 13. Hunt averaged 40.1 yards per punt and placed 15 of his 36 punts inside the 20 (42 percent).

• Back-up quarterback and redshirt freshman Rocky Lombardi was the emergency punter at Arizona State, and filled in once for Hartbarger, punting his only attempt 32 yards in the fourth quarter.

PROGRAM NOTES –
• Michigan State finished the 2017 campaign with a 10-3 record and a No. 15 ranking by The Associated Press, the program’s seventh AP Top 25 finish under Mark Dantonio. The Spartans capped the greatest single-season turnaround in school history with a dominating 42-17 win over No. 18 Washington State (CFP ranking) in the Holiday Bowl to record their sixth double-digit win season in the last eight years.

• After featuring one of the youngest teams in the nation last season, Michigan State returned a total of 48 letterwinners and 19 position starters in 2018. A total of 33 players returning had starting experience (16 offense, 14 defense, three special teams). Out of a combined 286 possible starting positions in 2017 on offense and defense throughout the course of 13 games, the Spartans returned 239 of those starts (84 percent). The 19 position starters returning on offense and defense were tied for the most in the FBS along with Florida, and the 22 overall starters (including specialists) were also tied for first (Baylor).

• Michigan State is in the midst of its winningest decade in school history based on total wins, as the Spartans are 85-33 (.720) since the beginning of the 2010 season. During that span, MSU has won five bowl games (2012 Outback, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings, 2014 Rose, 2015 Cotton, 2017 Holiday), three Big Ten Championships (2010, 2013, 2015) and three Big Ten Division titles (2011, 2013, 2015). MSU’s .720 winning percentage this decade is second best in school history (.766 in 1950s, 70-21-1). MSU was the only school to finish in the top-six of the national polls from 2013-15 (No. 3 in 2013, No. 5 in 2014, No. 6 in 2015) and the 36 wins from 2013-15 marked the winningest three-year stretch in the history of the program.

• In addition, the Spartans have earned 11 bowl bids since 2007, including a school-record four consecutive bowl victories (2012 Outback against No. 18 Georgia, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings against TCU, 2014 Rose Bowl Game against No. 5 Stanford, 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic against No. 4 Baylor), which also tied a Big Ten record.

• The 85 wins this decade are third most in the Big Ten and 13th most in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.

• MSU’s highest winning percentage by decade is currently the 1950s (.766, 70-21-1 record), but the 85 wins this current decade are already the most of any previous decade in school history (previous: 70 in 1950s).

MARK DANTONIO ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL COACHES IN BIG TEN HISTORY –
• Now in his 12th season as head coach of the Spartans, Mark Dantonio owns a 107-50 (.682) record. He is one of just eight active FBS coaches to own at least 100 victories at his current school. For the fourth time in his career, Dantonio was named a semifinalist in 2017 for the George Munger College Coach of the Year, presented by the Maxwell Football Club. Dantonio has won the most Big Ten Championships (three) and bowl games (five) of any Spartan head coach and also ranks first with 11 bowl appearances. He is the only Big Ten coach to win multiple Big Ten Championships (2010, 2013, 2015), claim a victory in the Rose Bowl (2014), and coach in the College Football Playoff (2015).

• The second-winningest coach in school history with 107 victories, trailing only Hall of Famer Duffy Daugherty (109), Dantonio also ranks first in program history in conference winning percentage (.657, 65-34 record, minimum 10 games); tied for first in AP Top 25 finishes (seven); second in Big Ten wins (65), home wins (63) and AP Top 25 wins (21); and fifth in overall winning percentage (.682).

• Dantonio’s incredible run at Michigan State ranks among the best in Big Ten history. Dantonio is one of just six Big Ten coaches to have at least six 10-win seasons on their resume (Bo Schembechler, Michigan; Jim Tressel, Ohio State; Joe Paterno, Penn State; Lloyd Carr, Michigan; Urban Meyer, Ohio State) and one of four to have at least five 11-win seasons (Tressel, Paterno, Meyer).

• Dantonio is one of just 14 coaches in Big Ten history to record 100 victories. He is currently No. 14 in Big Ten history with 107 wins.

• Overall, Dantonio owns a 125-67 (.651) record in his 15th season as a head coach (18-17 in three seasons at Cincinnati; 107-50 in 12 seasons at MSU). Dantonio’s 125 career wins rank 13th among active FBS coaches and third most in the Big Ten (Urban Meyer, 185; Kirk Ferentz; 163).

• Dantonio won his 71st game at MSU on Oct. 25, 2014, against Michigan to move into second place all-time in victories in school history (record: Duffy Daugherty, 109). Dantonio won his 100th career game as a head coach on Oct. 17, 2015, at Michigan Stadium as the Spartans rallied to defeat the Wolverines, 27-23, on a 38-yard fumble return as time expired. His career record stands at 125-67 (.651) in his 15th season.

• Dantonio’s .657 winning percentage (65-34) in Big Ten games ranks first in MSU history (minimum 10 Big Ten games). He ranks second in school history in conference wins (Duffy Daugherty, 72).

• Dantonio led the Spartans to the 2015 Big Ten Championship with a 16-13 victory over previously undefeated and fourth-ranked Iowa. It marked Dantonio’s third Big Ten Championship (2010, 2013, 2015), establishing a school record (previous: Daugherty and George Perles with two each).

• Dantonio became the first coach in Big Ten history to record five 11-win seasons in a six-year span (11 in 2010; 11 in 2011; 13 in 2013, 11 in 2014; 12 in 2015), and his five 11-win seasons are tied with Joe Paterno of Penn State for third most in Big Ten history (Urban Meyer of Ohio State with seven; Jim Tressel of Ohio State with six; Paterno with five at Penn State as Big Ten member). Prior to Dantonio’s arrival, MSU had not recorded an 11-win season in its history, and had just two 10-win seasons (1965, 1999).

• A two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year (2010, 2013), Dantonio has led Michigan State to Top 25 finishes seven times (2008: No. 24 in both polls; 2010: No. 14 in both polls; 2011: No. 10 USA TODAY/No. 11 AP; 2013: No. 3 in both polls; 2014: No. 5 in both polls; 2015: No. 6 in both polls; 2017: No. 15 AP/No. 16 USA TODAY). His seven AP Top-25 finishes are tied for the most in school history. Duffy Daugherty’s teams posted seven Top-25 finishes during his 19-year tenure from 1954-72.

• Michigan State extended its school record by playing in a bowl game for the ninth consecutive season in 2015 (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, 2015 College Football Playoff Semifinal at Cotton Bowl).

• Dantonio also ranks first in school history with 11 bowl appearances, including a school-record streak of nine straight bowl games from 2007-15. He is 5-5 in bowl games at Michigan State, including a school-record four-game winning streak (2012 Outback, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings, 2014 Rose, 2015 Cotton). Dantonio has led his teams to 13 bowl berths in 15 seasons as a head coach (11 at MSU, two at Cincinnati).

• Dantonio is one of just four Spartan head coaches to coach in at least 100 games at MSU and ranks second in Spartan history with 157 games coached at Michigan State (Duffy Daugherty: 183; Dantonio: 157; George Perles: 139; Charlie Bachman: 114).

SPARTANS BOAST 18 GRADUATES ON 2018 ROSTER –
• From his first day on the job, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio has pledged to support student-athletes as they pursue excellence, both in the classroom and on the playing field. In his first 12 seasons, a total of 219 players have earned their undergraduate degrees. In addition, 194 Spartans have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, including nine Academic All-America selections (five first-team honorees). Michigan State has placed three student-athletes in the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Class during Dantonio’s tenure.

• Entering the Redbox Bowl, Michigan State has 18 graduates on its 2018 roster.

GRADUATED FROM MSU AND STILL ELIGIBLE (17)
Byron Bullough – Finance (December 2018)
Josh Butler – Media and Information (December 2018)
Cole Chewins – Finance (December 2018)
Andrew Dowell – Advertising Management (December 2018)
David Dowell – Advertising Management (December 2018)
Jake Hartbarger – Hospitality Business (December 2018)
Chase Gianacakos – Supply Chain Management (May 2018) / Marketing Research (December 2018)*
Brian Lewerke – Economics (December 2018)
Collin Lucas – Construction Management (December 2018)
Grayson Miller – General Management (December 2018)
Matt Morrissey – Finance (December 2018)
Gerald Owens – Sociology (December 2018)
Jon Reschke – Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science (December 2017)
Matt Sokol – Economics (December 2017) / Marketing Research (December 2018)*
Brandon Sowards – Human Resources and Labor Relations (August 2018)
Tyriq Thompson – Journalism (December 2018)
Khari Willis  – Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science-Community Goverance & Advocacy (December 2018)
* master’s degree

GRADUATE TRANSFERS (1)
Mickey Macius (Austin Peay) – Finance (May 2017)

SCHOOL-RECORD 31 SPARTANS NAMED TO ACADEMIC ALL-BIG TEN TEAM –
• A program-record 31 Michigan State football players were named to the 2018 Academic All-Big Ten Team. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, students must be on a varsity team, as verified by being on the official squad list as of Nov. 1 for fall sports, who have been enrolled full-time at the institution for a minimum of 12 months and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.

• Michigan State’s list of honorees includes 18 multi-year selections. Byron BulloughJake HartbargerMatt Morrissey and Brandon Sowards become members of a select group, as just 29 Spartans in the history of the program have earned All-Big Ten honors four times. Cole ChewinsChase GianacakosGrayson MillerMatt Sokoland Khari Willis are featured on the academic all-conference team for the third year in a row, while AJ ArcuriDrew BeesleyReid BurtonLuke CampbellMatt CoghlinDavid DowellBrian LewerkeCollin Lucas and Dante Razzanomade the honor roll for the second straight season.

• In 12 seasons under Mark Dantonio, student-athletes have been named Academic All-Big Ten 194 times, including the third straight season with the highest in program history as part of four of five highest single-season marks in program history (record 31 in 2018; 27 in 2017; 22 in 2016; 17 in 2013 was fourth highest).

• Complete 2018 Michigan State Academic All-Big Ten Team: AJ Arcuri, Packaging; Drew Beesley, Economics; Blake Bueter, Engineering; Byron Bullough, Finance; Reid Burton, English; Luke Campbell, Kinesiology; Cole Chewins, Finance; Matt Coghlin, Business; David Dowell, Advertising Management; Chase Gianacakos, Marketing Research-Master’s; Cole Hahn, Kinesiology; Jake Hartbarger, Hospitality Business; C.J. Hayes, Communication; Jack Henrichs, Mathematics; Tyler Hunt, Business; Brian Lewerke, Economics; Rocky Lombardi, Business; Dominique Long, Mechanical Engineering; Collin Lucas, Construction Management, Mickey Macius, Business Administration-Master’s; Jack Mandryk, Kinesiology; Grayson Miller, General Management, Matt Morrissey, Finance; Brent Mossburg, Business; Dante Razzano, Supply Chain Management; Noah Sargent, Economics; Brandon Sowards, Human Resources and Labor Relations; Matt Sokol; Marketing Research-Master’s; Mitchell Sokol, Business; DeAri Todd, Kinesiology; Khari Willis, Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science.

SPARTANS ANNOUNCE 2019 EARLY SIGNING CLASS –
• Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio introduced the program’s early signing class on Dec. 19. The Spartans welcomed 20 new players to the program, including 10 players from Michigan, six from Ohio, two from Illinois, one from Indiana, and one from Australia. Eight of the signees are either offensive or defensive linemen, including Devontae Dobbs, the No. 1 overall prospect in the state of Michigan and one of the highest-rated offensive lineman in the nation.

• The class also features the top-ranked cornerback in the state of Michigan (Julian Barnett, 247Sports), the top-ranked wide receiver in Michigan (Tre Mosley, 247Sports and Rivals), the top-ranked defensive end in Michigan (Michael Fletcher, 247Sports) and the No. 1 quarterback in the state of Illinois (Payton Thorne, 247Sports).

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