By beating Northwestern today 31-17, Michigan State achieved…well they actually achieved all the big important stuff before arriving in Evanston, IL. Last week, they secured a berth to the inaugural Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. And since beating the Wisconsin/Penn State winner (probably Wisconsin) is their one and only path to the BCS, this game meant very little in the grand scheme of things.
But don’t say that to Coach Mark D’Antonio and/or his players. Despite taking Thursday practice off, MSU came in fired up to win this game. They gave it “the ol’ college try.”
“People talk about the 12th game and how to play it, it’s so much better when you do it this way, it means so much more to everybody, we’ll remember this for the rest our lives,” Dantonio said.
“And that’s the kind of focus we put on this game, we want to have momentum heading into next week, we’ll have that. They’ll be no looking back, right we’ll be able to push through and move on to the next thing.”
Quarterback Kirk Cousins went 14-20 for 214 yards, 2 TDs and an INT. He set the school record with his 62nd career TD pass. He also broke the MSU mark for career 200+ yard passing games.
Cousins was his usual humble self in the postgame media session:
“It means a great deal more to the guys around me than to me, I think,” he said.
“We all care so much about one another. None of those touchdowns I threw by myself- I passed to someone, I had an offensive lineman protecting me. Any individual records are a testament to the team and the more records we can pile up shows how special the team has been.”
Cousins is an outgoing senior, much like his starting receivers Keshawn Martin and B.J. Cunningham, who also came up big today. Cunningham put up a 6-120-2, Martin a 2-57, adding a 57 yard punt return for the TD.
Cunningham talked about reaching the 10th win.
“Nobody’s ever done it at Michigan State and to have back-to-back double digit seasons means a lot. We’ve been talking all week about how we want to win this game, slingshot to the championship and keep rolling,” he said.
Indeed this senior class has accomplished a lot. Last year’s 11 wins was the most in school history. They can break that record this year by winning in Indy next Saturday, and taking their bowl game. The senior class had more wins than any class in school history, and is the first to beat the Wolverines four straight 1962.
Michigan State has won 21 of its last 25, going 14-2 in Big Ten play during that span. Not bad for a basketball school.
Dan Persa had a decent game for NU in the loss, finishing 23-32 for 245, no picks, 2 TDs. However, his OL was totally dominated by a ferocious Michigan State defensive front. As the Spartan DL was every bit as good as advertised, sacking the very mobile Persa six times on the afternoon.
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the FWAA, USBWA and SPJ. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.