Saturday, December 31, 2011

Spartans down Nebraska, extend winning streak to 13 games

After an ugly first half, the No. 16 MSU men's basketball team opened up a big lead in the second half and held on for a 68-55 win over the Cornhuskers in Lincoln.

The 13-game in-season winning streak is the longest since 1998-99 and will be put to the test against Wisconsin on Tuesday at the Kohl Center, a house of horrors for most opponents.

Draymond Green was the leading man for MSU (13-2, 2-0), with 19 points and eight rebounds and was 9-for-9 from the free-throw line. He wasn't perfect, though, with five turnovers and several bad-looking shots (he finished 4-for-11 from the field).

Th Spartans struggled with jump shots early, falling behind 12-4. But they began feeding the ball down low to find some baskets. MSU didn't lead the entire half and trailed 30-29 at the break. Adreian Payne picked up two early fouls and was in foul trouble most of the day, so Derrick Nix stepped up. Nix finished with eight points, seven rebounds and his second fast-break lead in as many games.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Spartans fall to U-M in GLI final

They were 50 seconds away, now they're 365 days away.

The MSU hockey team lost a lead with 50 seconds to go and lost the game in overtime as Michigan took home its 15th Great Lakes Invitational Championship and its second straight.

The Wolverines tied the game with a powerplay goal on a very questionable penalty call, but U-M had dominated the period, so the Spartans can hardly say they were robbed. 

The game was scoreless after one period, and Taylor Sorenson gave MSU the 1-0 lead in the second on a simple shot from the top of the circle that seemed to surprise U-M goalie Shawn Hunwick. It was his first collegiate goal.

Some pre-GLI Championship videos

I was going to try to head down to the GLI Championship between MSU and Michigan tonight, but it appears it may be sold out. It is not on TV, but will be streamed on

So to get ready for the game, here are some YouTube videos:

MSU vs. U-M from this season:

Big Ten bowl predictions

I don't normally do predictions, but decided to take a look at the Big Ten bowl games over the next few days.

It's been a bad year for the Big Ten, and bowl season provides an opportunity for a some redemption. Unfortunately, the Big Ten faces some tough matchups, as often is the case. An upset or two is possible, but don't expect the Big Ten to finish much better than 5-5 overall.

Here are my Big Ten bowl predictions for MLive.

So what's the deal with DeAnthony Arnett?

For those of you who don't follow recruiting that heavily, DeAnthony Arnett was a highly-recruited wide receiver out of Saginaw who enjoyed all the attention he was getting last year.

He had some fun, posting fake commitment videos on Twitter before eventually choosing Tennessee over MSU, Michigan and other schools.

Arnett had 24 catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman for the Volunteers this past season.  But now Arnett is seeking a transfer to a school back home because of his ailing father, telling ESPN, "I want to play football but I NEED to be here for my Dad and with my family."

Sounds simple enough. But Tennessee isn't making it easy. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hockey advances to GLI final with 3-1 win

I only was able to catch the first period, but by all accounts, the Spartans were soundly outplayed by the Michigan Tech Huskies in Thursday's Great Lakes Invitational opener.

But great goaltending from Drew Palmisano (44 saves) and a late empty-net goal from Brett Perlini sealed a 3-1 win for MSU. The Spartans head to the GLI final for the 27th time, where they will face No. 20 Michigan, who beat No. 3 Boston College, 4-2. This tournament is always better when MSU and U-M meet, so the Joe should be rocking tomorrow. The teams last played in the final in 2008, when U-M won. MSU beat U-M to win the title in 2006.

Greg Wolfe gave MSU an early 1-0 lead when he buried a rebound on the powerplay. Chris Forfar extended the lead to 2-0 with a second-period goal.

The Huskies led in shots, 30-15, after two, but didn't have anything to show for it. They finally found the net in the third with a goal on a 5-on-3. The Spartans killed off the other penalty and didn't register their first shot in the period until 13 minutes in. They held on and Perlini's empty-netter secured the win.

Normally Michigan Tech is outplayed in the GLI, but goaltending gives them a shot at an upset. But it was the Spartans were in that position Thursday and Palmisano who led them into the championship game. The Huskies outshot MSU, 45-24, in the end. It is MSU's first appearance in the championship since 2009, when they won the tournament.

The Spartans' 12 GLI titles are second only to U-M's 14.

Tomorrow's game begins at 7:30 and will be streamed online at

Keith Appling coming into point guard role

In seven games in November, Keith Appling had 14 assists to 16 turnovers. In December, the sophomore has turned it around, with 37 assists and 12 turnovers in seven games.

Here is my MLive post on how Appling is getting the hang of things at the point.

Cousins wins Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

A tremendous honor for a student-athlete who has done so much on and off the field. Congrats to Kirk.

Also, per Joe Rexrode, Cousins and Brian Linthicum will attend the Senior Bowl.

Here is the release:

TAMPA, Fla. - Michigan State's Kirk Cousins - the winningest quarterback in school history - has been selected as the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award winner in the NCAA® Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. The announcement and trophy presentation were made Thursday afternoon by Lowe's, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, prior to the Outback Bowl Team Luncheon.

The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I FBS coaches, national football media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.

Spartans and Trojans in Greece?

Mark Hollis is at it again.

With the Big Ten and PAC-12 agreeing to schedule each other in various sports, Hollis is doing what he was does best: come up with some crazy ideas.

One of those ideas could be MSU hoops taking on USC in Greece at the site of the first modern Olympics, according to the Lansing State Journal.

Don't think this idea is that farfetched. After all, Notre Dame football is playing in Ireland in 2012. If the Irish can play in Ireland, the Spartans and Trojans can play in Greece. Playing in Greece has been an idea of Hollis' for a while.

Also of note, Hollis said MSU doesn't plan on canceling any of its football contracts, which means the 2017 nonconference slate consists of Alabama, Notre Dame, Western Michigan and a PAC-12 team. (UPDATE: Hollis tells Joe Rexrode that MSU will have South Florida on the schedule, but not in 2017)

During the conferences' teleconference yesterday, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany cited Hollis' ability to make regular events extraordinary. And he's doing it again.

Thoughts on MSU's 80-65 win vs. Indiana (w/ video)

What a game.

It had everything you'd want in a basketball game: good teams, good players, big runs, high emotion and a great atmosphere (more on that last one later). The final result: An 80-65 win for No. 16 MSU over No. 13 Indiana — a score that was enlarged due to late free throws.

You're not going to see many runs in Big Ten play like you saw tonight. MSU played nearly-flawless basketball for the first 15 minutes of the game, opening up a 34-16 lead. But Matt Roth hit some deep threes for IU, sparking a 25-2 run that stretched into the second half, giving Indiana a 41-36 lead. The Spartans fought back, but some and-1s from the Hoosiers stretched their lead to 54-45 with 11 minutes to play.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Big Ten, Pac-12 commit to future scheduling

From the Big Ten and Pac-12:

Park Ridge, Ill., and Walnut Creek, Calif.  – With a history of Rose Bowl competition dating back more than a century, the Big Ten Conference and Pac-12 Conference announced today a collaborative effort to enhance long-term scheduling commitments between the two conferences across all sports amongst the 24 institutions.

The new Big Ten-Pac-12 collaboration will feature more games between the two conferences in an effort to enhance the experiences for all student-athletes, fans and alumni while broadening the national scope of both conferences. Details of the new effort will continue to unfold as administrators and conference staff members meet in the coming year.

Report: Big Ten, Pac-12 to increase interconference scheduling

Some big news announced today, as the Big Ten and Pac-12 will begin to increase interconference scheduling, along with cross-promoting networks and participating in academic and cultural "exchanges," according to USA Today.

The big news is that the football programs plan to play at least one interconference matchup with the other conference beginning in 2017. As a result, Jim Delany says the Big Ten likely will rethink its decision to play nine conference games. These games could take place in NFL stadiums, Mark Hollis told ESPN.

"I'm a believer that kids want to play in the big games,'' Hollis said to ESPN. "I think that's going to do nothing but enhance the situation for both leagues.''

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

MSU photos from Tampa

Photos forwarded from MSU:

(Sophomore strong safety Isaiah Lewis and his teammates got their first look inside Raymond James Stadium on Monday afternoon. Photo credit: Matthew Mitchell, MSU Athletic Communications.)

My caption: That's a cool ad for The Tampa Tribune. Isaiah Lewis is #teamandroid

 (Sophomore running back Le’Veon Bell and his teammates concluded Monday’s 60-minute workout at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla., with a series of interval runs. Photo credit: Matthew Mitchell, MSU Athletic Communications)

My caption: Look how big Edwin Baker's arms and neck are! 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fowler, Giampapa out, Narduzzi staying (for now)

Hope everyone had a great weekend. How 'bout those Lions? I was downtown Saturday and I have to say my first experience of Ford Field with a good Lions team was great. That place gets loud, and I mean loud. Congrats to the Lions and their fans.

As for MSU, Dantonio talked to reporters down in Tampa today.

From Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal:

--Long-snapper Matt Giampapa is out for the Outback Bowl for violating team rules. Steve Moore will take over long-snapping duties.

--Wide receiver Bennie Fowler's status finally is clear: out. Fowler only played in a few games while dealing with a stress fracture in his foot that has been bothering him all season. Per Rexrode, Dantonio said Fowler shouldn't need surgery, although his status for spring ball is uncertain. That's quite a stress fracture.

--There is one unnamed player who did not travel to Tampa because of academic issues, but may head down later in the week if that is taken care of.

--Dantonio said Pat Narduzzi interviewed for one other job, but is staying at MSU for now. Narduzzi was reportedly in the mix at Akron and Pitt, and both those jobs have been filled. MSU assistants are supposed to be getting raises in early 2012.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Summers cut by Bobcats

One day after Drew Neitzel was cut by the Dallas Mavericks, Durrell Summers met the same fate from the Charlotte Bobcats.

Summers scored two points and recorded one rebound in 10 minutes in two preseason games.

Before being invited to Bobcats camp, Summers was performing well with the Maine Red Claws of the NBADL.

Forbes: MSU No. 19 most-valuable team

Forbes came out with its annual list of most-valuable college football teams, with MSU coming in at No. 19 overall and sixth in the Big Ten at $59 million.

Forbes says MSU's football profit was $28 million, the third-highest in the Big Ten after Penn State and U-M. MSU's two-year change is value was +3 percent.

In order to calculate the value, Forbes explains: "The four components, in order of weight, consist of each team's 1. value to its university(football profit used for academic purposes, including football scholarships), 2. value to its athletic department (net profit generated by the football team that is kept by the athletic department), 3. value to its conference (distribution of bow game payout) and 4. value to the surrounding community (estimated spending by visitors on days of home games). The scoring system also standardizes revenues and expenses in order to account for differences in each school's method of reporting financial information to the Department of Education."

Here is the complete list if you don't want to do all that clicking.

1. Texas
2. Notre Dame
3. Penn State
4. LSU
5. Michigan
6. Alabama
7. Georgia
8. Arkansas
9. Auburn
10. Oklahoma
11. Florida
12. Tennessee
13. Ohio State
14. Nebraska
15. Wisconsin
16. South Carolina
17. Texas A&M
18. USC
19. MSU
20. Iowa

Not really any surprises, except for maybe Arkansas. Texas will always be king. In terms of the Big Ten, the order pretty much follows the order of stadium size. Obviously more seats mean more revenue.

A look at what some Spartans want for Christmas

Have you sent your list to Santa? With Christmas two days away, it's not too late to ask Santa for a few more gifts.
Just in time for the weekend, I was forwarded the Christmas lists of some Michigan State athletics personnel, and I'm going to share it with you.
Pat Narduzzi — A defensive tackle — With Kevin Pickelman out for the Outback Bowl, MSU is thin at the position. Looking to next season, he may also lose Jerel Worthy to the NFL, so Narduzzi is asking Santa for a big man for the trenches. A few days ago, he let us know which one he wanted, too: Micajah Reynolds. I know Narduzzi let him go to the offensive line before, but he's serious that he'll be happy with Reynolds on the defense this time.
Andrew Maxwell — Some wide receivers —  This is for next season. MSU will lose B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol to graduation, leaving an entirely new receiving corps for Andrew Maxwell. The No. 1 guy next year, Bennie Fowler, has been hurt for most of this season. Tony Lippett probably will move to receiver next year after playing on both sides of the ball this season. If Maxwell wants to succeed replacing one of the best quarterbacks in MSU history, he's going to need some help.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Spartans wrap up nonconference play with 90-81 win over Lehigh

Almost a week ago, I wrote that MSU often comes out sluggish at Breslin against lesser opponents before pulling away in the second half.

After trailing at halftime, the No. 19 Spartans defeated Lehigh 90-81 to extend the winning streak to 11 games. Make no mistake, the Mountain Hawks are a good team.

It was an interesting start, as Draymond Green benched himself to start the game for showing up late to practice, according to the ESPNU announcers. That was coupled with Derrick Nix coming off an ankle injury. Nix entered the game a few minutes in and played 16 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing two rebounds, so he appears to be OK.

Neitzel cut by Mavs

Former Spartan Drew Neitzel was one of two players cut by the Dallas Mavericks today as the NBA gets ready to begin the regular season.

In his first preseason game, Neitzel played four minutes and went 0-for-1 shooting. In his second game, he played 14 minutes and scored seven points on 3-for-6 shooting.

From Neitzel's Twitter account: "Disappointed but so blessed to be a part of the World Champs for the past 2 weeks. First class organization from top to bottom. #illbeback"

No roster cuts yet for the Charlotte Bobcats, where Durrell Summers played five minutes and recorded one rebound in one preseason game. The Bobcats' second preseason game is tonight.

MSU's basketball game against Lehigh is at 9 p.m. tonight on ESPNU and

Here's BTN's MSU preview for The Journey, a great show that returns in January.

Video: Cousins reflects on career, prepares for final game

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Camouflage jersey: Who wears it better?

MSU and North Carolina's camouflage uniforms from the Carrier Classic earlier in the year drew a lot of praise (MSU more than UNC because blue was just kind of weird).

Because the game was all about the troops, the jerseys weren't created as a money grab, meaning there aren't replicas filling the apparel stores. And you know they would sell well. The jerseys worn by the players were given to the troops in a very nice gesture.

The Carrier Classic wasn't the first sporting event to use camouflage jerseys but it might have been the first basketball game. Now another team is jumping on the camouflage bandwagon.

The NBA's Toronto Raptors will wear a camouflage jersey on March 21 to honor the Canadian military. No word yet if they'll be available to the public.

So the obvious question now is who has the better look? You be the judge and tweet me your thoughts.

I go with MSU. They're similar to what I considered the best college football uniform: Army's camouflage.

Chris L. Rucker nominated for NFL Rookie of the Week

Chris L. Rucker got his first start with the Indianapolis Colts last week. This week, he recorded 11 tackles (six solo) with a fumble recovery to help the Colts win their first game of the season.

You can vote for Rucker and see highlights of all the nominees here.

MSU must overcome Georgia's size to win battle in the trenches

(This story originally appeared on

You thought Wisconsin's offensive line was big.

Now Michigan State has to prepare for an even bigger line in Georgia. Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi couldn't believe it.
"Someone said they’re considered the biggest offensive line in the country," Narduzzi said. "They’re bigger than Wisconsin? Are you kidding me?"
Georgia's offensive line starters average more than 6-foot-3 in height and an incredible 329 pounds in weight. By comparison, no MSU offensive line starter weighs more than 315 and the starters average out to 301 pounds. That's some big-time size from the Bulldogs.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Georgia's size presents problems for MSU (w/ video)

(This story originally appeared on

EAST LANSING — During the Big Ten season, there was a lot of buzz about how Wisconsin’s offensive line was bigger than some lines in the National Football League.

The Spartans had five sacks of Wisconsin’s quarterback, but allowed 346 rushing yards in the two games. Now the Spartans are preparing for Georgia in the Outback Bowl and some of the top college talent from the Southeastern Conference. That includes an offensive line whose starters average more than 6-foot-3 in height and 329 pounds in weight.

“Someone said they’re considered the biggest offensive line in the country,” defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said at MSU’s bowl media day Tuesday. “They’re bigger than Wisconsin? Are you kidding me? … They’re strong, they get their hands on you, they can put you on your back.”

Georgia coach commits secondary violations

Since MSU is playing Georgia in the Outback Bowl, I figured this was somewhat tied with MSU.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt committed secondary violations by paying some of his assistants out of his pocket when he thought they were underpaid over the past few years. I didn't know that was a violation either.

Richt did this because his request for assistant raises was shot down due to university-wide pay freezes and furloughs, which is the same reason MSU has yet to increase the salaries of its assistants. MSU is set to raise those salaries in February.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported the news after filing some FOIAs. Here are the specific details along with some more minor violations. Among those other violations? Providing two meals for a five-year old. Ok then.

Quick notes from Outback Bowl media day (w/ video)

Just wrapped up Outback Bowl media day at MSU. Will have more later, but here are some quick notes:

--Pat Narduzzi is a little worried about blitzes, because Georgia likes to do quick passes. Youngstown State ran a similar thing and it caused issues early for MSU. The Spartans will have to adjust.

--Narduzzi said MSU will run its three-linebacker base defense for the most part. Georgia likes to use three wide receivers with some no-huddle. This usually presents problems for MSU, so expect Georgia to attack Chris Norman quite a bit.

--Micajah Reynolds has looked really good at defensive tackle in practice. Narduzzi said if he keeps it up, he'll be sticking on defense.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Spartans take care of UMKC, 89-54

Yes it was against Missouri-Kansas City, but the MSU hoops team put in its most complete performance of the year with a 89-54 win over the Kangaroos, extending the winning streak to 10 games. And yes, they're really called the Kangaroos. Awesome. (Highlights from

This one was never really in doubt, as MSU jumped out to a 16-2 lead and never looked back. MSU shot a season-high 61.4 percent from the field, including 48 points in the paint. Eleven different Spartans scored.

The star of the night was Branden Dawson, who scored on an alley-oop off the tip-off and had a career-high 16 points. He also grabbed four rebounds and had some powerful dunks (see below). After seeming being mentally out of the past few games, Dawson was all over the place on both sides of the floor. Maybe he's getting out of his funk.

McDonald moving into leadership role (w/ video)

EAST LANSING — Ever since he arrived at MSU, Chris McDonald has looked up to fellow offensive guard Joel Foreman for leadership.

But next season, Foreman will be gone to graduation, and the Sterling Heights native McDonald will be the dean of the MSU offensive line. A week ago, the team captain Foreman brought up the idea of McDonald being a captain next season.

Ray wins Courage Award

From the Big Ten:

Michigan State's Arthur Ray Jr. has been named the winner of the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award. Ray, a senior offensive lineman from Chicago, returned to football this season, four years after bone cancer derailed his career.

"This is a tremendous award for a young man who has conquered all of the odds up against him," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "He's played in games this year and has participated on the practice field daily. It's been a long road. He was on crutches for almost two years, from 2007 to 2009. He's really a living example to our football team on what you can do with a positive attitude and if you just continue to work, how you can conquer all obstacles."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Report: Narduzzi pulls name out of Akron vacancy

This from Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports.

Interesting to say the least, and good news for MSU fans if it's true. Another job that Narduzzi has been reportedly linked to is Pitt, but it sounds like Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst might be the guy who lands here (would also be good news for MSU fans).

Narduzzi won't take questions about other jobs, so who knows why he may have done this. MSU assistants are supposedly getting raises in early 2012, but we don't know by how much.

If you remember, Don Treadwell took the Miami (Ohio) job the day before the Capital One Bowl last year. The earlier Narduzzi's situation gets settled, the better it is for MSU's Outback Bowl chances.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Second-half surge pushes Spartans past Bowling Green

It seems it's becoming a regular occurrence when the MSU hoops team faces a lesser opponent at Breslin: an ugly first half followed by a fairly-dominating second half.

Bowling Green was the victim this time, as MSU won its ninth straight, this one by a 74-60 score.

Without the Izzone in the crowd, the Spartans were as sluggish as the fans in the first half. MSU didn't turn the ball over much, but the Falcons were all over the boards early. A pair of free throws from Nix with a second left gave MSU a 35-33 at half.

Spartans get back on practice field after much-needed rest

After nearly two weeks off, the MSU football team got back to work with its first bowl practice on Friday.

MSU plans on using about 10 of the 15 allotted bowl practices, as the Big Ten Championship Game changed up the typical bowl schedule.

Here is my story on MSU getting back on the practice field.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Quick notes from Dantonio (w/ video)

Media just spoke with Dantonio for about 10 minutes. Players coming later. Some highlights:

--MSU plans to use about 10 of the 15 allotted bowl practices, beginning today. After playing the extra championship game, the coaches gave the players the following week off, and this week was finals week.

--Bennie Fowler's availability is still up in the air. Dantonio did reveal that Fowler has been dealing with a stress fracture in his foot, but he's day-to-day, as he's been all season.

--Denzel Drone may get some time at defensive tackle. Without Kevin Pickelman, the Spartans are low on defensive tackles. Jerel Worthy and Anthony Rashad White will get most of the snaps, but Drone, Micajah Reynolds and some others could be sprinkled in. No redshirts will be burned.

Spartans racking up high numbers of steals

This story originally appeared on

Tom Izzo's teams have always been some of the best defensive teams in the country.

But one of the few defense stats — steals — has never been a strong point of the Spartans. Over the previous 10 seasons, the highest MSU ranked in steals was 100th, in 2004-05, with 7.8 steals per game.

Ten games into this season, the Spartans have had very active hands, as MSU is ranked 39th in the country with 8.8 steals per game

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Notes from Georgia teleconference

Just got off the phone after a teleconference with Georgia head coach Mark Richt, quarterback Aaron Murray and linebacker Christian Robinson. Here are some quick highlights:

--Richt called MSU a well-coached, physical team with a lot of skill on offense. "I see excellence."

--Richt agrees with many analysts, saying this Outback Bowl matchup is one of the best among bowl games.

--While the SEC is known for its skilled defenses, there weren't many veteran quarterbacks, so Kirk Cousins presents a challenge to Richt. He wasn't too high on comparing MSU to the SEC, but said the Cousins-to-B.J. Cunningham connection can create a lot of problems for his defense. Robinson said Cousins probably is the best QB the Bulldogs will have faced this season.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MSU not only school struggling with bowl ticket sales

On Monday, athletics director Mark Hollis said MSU had sold about 5,000 of its 11,500 allotted tickets to the Outback Bowl.

The desire to spend money for a trip to Florida after falling just short of the Rose Bowl isn't exactly high, especially since many fans shelled out money for the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis. But MSU does have a history of traveling well to recent bowl games, bringing an estimated 30,000 fans to the Capital One Bowl in 2009 and 2011.

While there is worry a poor showing from MSU fans will hurt the image in the eyes of bowls, MSU isn't the only school struggling to sell tickets this year.

A fall semester MSU sports final exam

This post originally appeared on MLive.

Welcome, students.

You've been great this semester, but like all your other classes, it's time for a final exam. I hope you all looked over the study guide and went to the study sessions, because there's nothing you can do now.

Some more postseason honors for Spartans

Just announced, Jerel Worthy is an Associated Press All-American. Worthy makes it four straight years with an AP All-American for MSU (Ringer '08, G. Jones '09 '10), tying a school record (1950-53)

Worthy is the first Spartan defensive lineman to earn AP All-American honors since Bubba Smith in 1966.

"This is an unbelievable accomplishment, but I can’t take all of the credit for myself,” Worthy said in a statement. “With our scheme, Coach (Pat) Narduzzi put me in position to make a lot of big plays. I’m fortunate to play for a great defense – one that has ranked among the nation’s top 10 in total defense all season.  

"I’m also blessed to play for a great coaching staff, and these coaches have pushed me every day to be successful. They taught me not to be content with my game and encouraged me to consistently play at a high level. I also have to give a ton of credit to the other 10 guys on the field, who busted their butts to make themselves better throughout the season.”

Also from earlier today, Marcus Rush was named to Sporting News All-Freshman team.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Football freshmen named to BTN team

Travis Jackson, Marcus Rush and Mike Sadler were named to Big Ten Network's All-Freshman team yesterday.

Sometimes a freshman team can be difficult to fill, but all three Spartans are worthy of the honor. Nick Hill and Tony Lippett were named honorable mention

Spartans honored on SI All-American team

Jerel Worthy's accolades continue to roll in, as he was named a Sports Illustrated second-team All-American.

Along with Worthy, seniors Kirk Cousins, B.J. Cunningham and Joel Foreman all were named honorable mention.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Report: Recruit Pittman switches commitment to OSU

The top prospect in MSU's 2012 football recruiting class, Ohio defensive end Se'Von Pittman, has decommitted from MSU and switched to Urban Meyer's Buckeyes, according to Bill Greene of and other outlets.

Pittman committed to MSU in June, but rumors of him wavering on that had been around for a while.

This news comes as Ohio State has been using two coaching staffs: one with Urban Meyer recruiting, and the other working with Luke Fickell for the Gator Bowl. Now while this isn't the first time a team has had this benefit, it has drawn the ire of many, including the Michigan Wolverines.

Ticket sales and other updates from Outback Bowl luncheon

This story originally appeared on

OKEMOS — With the No. 12 Michigan State football team set to play in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2, the natural place for a media luncheon would be Outback Steakhouse.

At lunch, athletics director Mark Hollis updated tickets sales, which continue to be slow. About 5,000 of the 11,500 allotted tickets have been sold.

MSU plans on aggressively marketing toward the more than 20,000 MSU alumni in the southeast United States, hoping to boost the ticket sales. But after tens of thousands of Spartan fans spent their money in Indianapolis only to have their hearts ripped out, the desire to spend money to go to a bowl that isn’t the Rose is low.

Video: Foreman talks Outback Bowl

Lunch in the Outback

MSU players and coaches were made available at, where else, the Outback Steakhouse in Okemos.

I'll have a bigger write-up later, but among the highlights:

--Mark Hollis says MSU has sold about 5,000 tickets for the bowl game and will begin aggressively marketing the southeast in areas like Atlanta and the Carolinas, along with Florida.

--Hollis called the scoreboard upgrades to Spartan Stadium both fun and necessary. You can tell he's still hurting and will never get over the BTCG loss until MSU makes the Rose Bowl.

--Pat Narduzzi said Kevin Pickleman and Johnathan Strayhorn are out for the bowl game, meaning more reps for Jerel Worthy and Anthony Rashad White. Micajah Reynolds is the No. 3 DT.

--Narduzzi also brushed off a question about Akron and said he "hasn't really" talked to other schools and has been recruiting.

--Asked about NFL aspirations, Keith Nichol said he has been asked about playing defense. So versatility is going to be the selling point for him.

--Overall, everyone knows Georgia is a good team and finishing out with a win would be a step forward for the program. Mark Dantonio was not present, as he is in Ohio.

Green earns weekly conference honors

(UPDATE: The Spartans have moved into the rankings at No. 21 in the AP Poll and No. 23 in the Coaches Poll.)

Draymond Green shares Big Ten Co-Player of the Week honor with Indiana's Christian Watford.

From the B1G:

--Averaged 24.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in Michigan State’s wins over Central Connecticut State (89-69) and at No. 22 Gonzaga (74-67)

--Poured in a career-high 34 points against Gonzaga on 11-of-13 shooting and added three steals and three assists in the road victory

--Recorded 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks against Central Connecticut State.

--Earns his first weekly honor of the season and his second overall

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Summers, Neitzel earn training camp invites

Former Spartan guard Durrell Summers has been invited to training camp for the Charlotte Bobcats, according to Bobcats PR.

Summers has averaged 17 points in five games with the Maine Red Claws of the NBADL. He scored 30 in his last game with the Red Claws on Dec. 8, shooting 11-for-23 from the field. That's right: 23 shots. From Durrell Summers. And only five of those 23 were three-pointers. He averaged 11.6 points on 10.6 shots as a senior last year.

Similarly, Drew Neitzel has been added to the training camp roster for the Dallas Mavericks. Since going undrafted in 2008, Neitzel has mostly been playing in Europe.

Also, Charlie Bell has been waived by the Golden State Warriors after recently showing up intoxicated to court for a drunken driving arrest. Bell played just 19 games for the Warriors last year, averaging 1.7 points.

(h/t @joeynowak, MLive, WaPo)

MSU campus TV featured in SNL skit

So after watching the MSU hoops game against Gonzaga, I was skimming though channels and landed on Saturday Night Live. To my surprise, I saw a skit of a fake Japanese show as a part of "Michigan State Campus TV."

I didn't think the skit was that funny, but the MSU part was interesting. My Twitter feed lit up with some confused people. Now, time for your weekly conspiracy theory. Michael Patrick O'Brien is an SNL writer and a graduate of the University of Michigan. The beginning of the skit shows MSU campus TV in... wait for it... maize and blue.

I don't know if O'Brien wrote this skit or not, but here's the video. SNL has had MSU alumni as writers in the past (thanks to The Show). What do you think?

Thanks to @spartytalk for the tip

Green leads hoops to big road win at Gonzaga

The Gonzaga Bulldogs don't lose at the kennel. That's partly because top-quality opponents refuse to play there. But Tom Izzo isn't afraid of a challenge. Since a pair of season-opening losses, the Spartans have grown up a lot, highlighted by Saturday night's 74-67 win.

I only saw the second half, as I was coming home from the hockey game, so only a half-analysis here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hockey downs U-M in shootout (w/ video highlights)

Ann Arbor native Drew Palmisano made all three saves in the shootout as the Spartans rebounded with a 4-3 win to pick up the extra point Saturday night at Munn Ice Arena. It was the first shootout in the history of the rivalry.

The Spartans were outplayed for the second straight night, and fell behind 1-0 6:35 into the first when Chris Brown tapped in his own rebound. It was a sloppy period for MSU, but Torey Krug's show from the point deflected off a Wolverine to tie the game 13:07 into the first. Chris Forfar pushed a shot past the outstretched leg of Shawn Hunwick less than three minutes later as MSU took a 2-1 lead after one.

Pickelman likely out for Outback Bowl

Joe Rexrode pointed it out today: senior defensive tackle Kevin Pickelman is not listed on the Outback Bowl depth chart. Pickelman suffered an injury in the middle of the Big Ten Championship and did not return.

It's a real shame, as Pickelman was getting some looks from NFL scouts. Let's hope the injury doesn't affect his professional potential.

Anthony Rashad White is listed as the starter at nose tackle, while Micajah Reynolds is listed as the backup.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hockey falls at Michigan, 4-3 (w/ video highlights)

It was a good start and good finish, but sandwiched in-between was some awful hockey from the Spartans, as MSU lost to Michigan 4-3 in the only meeting at Yost Ice Arena this year.

MSU controlled the play early, but U-M's David Wohlberg beat Will Yanakeff on the short side 5:58 into the first to give the Wolverines the early lead. Before the U-M students could start their trademark goal cheer, Matt Crandell scored 14 seconds later on a sneaky shot from the point to tie the game up at one. Chris Brown scored on a drive to the net around Crandell to give U-M a 2-1 lead midway through the period. Yanakeff looked shaky early, but settled down and made some spectacular saves.

Trustees approve stadium scoreboard planning

From The State News:

@thesnews: The MSU Board of Trustees approves for the administration to plan for replacing the scoreboards at Spartan Stadium.

@thesnews: Scoreboards: large one at south endzone, two smaller ones at north on corners not to block campus views. All tentative.

@thesnews: Scoreboards: Deputy Athletics Director Greg Ianni: project will max out at $8M … financing will come from sponsorships, other areas.

It should be noted this approval is for the planning process. The trustees will still have to approve the construction after the planning.

I was curious how they would plan around the view of campus in the north end zone. So by the end of this, Spartan Stadium will look a bit like a horseshoe. No taxpayer money will be used, it appears. This is all coming from the athletic department. The hope is to have it finished by the Boise State opener.

UPDATE: The Lansing State Journal got an idea of what MSU is hoping for: a 10-foot video wall in the north end zone. Remember the screen at the U2 concert at Spartan Stadium? The one that turned this into this? Well, that may be a possibility, apparently (on a much smaller scale, of course).

Ianni said he will return to the board in January with a proposal. As President Lou Anna K. Simon put it, the size of a scoreboard can affect public opinion.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sadler named Academic All-American

Punter Mike Sadler was among seven Big Ten players named Academic All-American on Thursday. Sadler has a perfect 4.0 GPA in applied engineering science.

Also announced Thursday, Jerel Worthy was named a Walter Camp All-American.

The Big Ten does pride itself on academics, which is partly why the conference won't take just any school when it comes to expansion (Also why Notre Dame is a perfect fit, but I digress).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

13 Spartans named Academic All-Big Ten

Contrary to what some people think, there are student-athletes who attend a school and look to get an education out of their athletic scholarship. 

The Big Ten released its Academic All-Conference members for the fall today. To be named to the list, a student-athlete must be a letterwinner in at least their second year at a school with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Thirteen Spartan football players were named to the list, with punter Mike Sadler being one of 14 Big Ten student-athletes with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Earlier in the week, four Spartans were honored for their grades at the team banquet.

No roses, but Spartans seek first bowl win since 2001

When players were made available to the media on Sunday, the mood was still quite somber from the Big Ten Championship loss the night before.

For the seniors, they'll probably never get over that loss. But eventually, the focus will shift to the Outback Bowl and Georgia. It's not the Rose Bowl, but a New Year's Day bowl (sort of) against an SEC team still provides an opportunity for the program to take a step forward.

Here is my story on the seniors looking to get their first bowl win.

New stadium scoreboards could be on the way

The long-awaited dream of new scoreboards at Spartan Stadium could move one step forward on Friday.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the MSU Board of Trustees will be asked to approve the start of a planning process for an $8 million upgrade to the scoreboards and sound system on Friday. The current setup, which has one video board in the south end zone and a message board in the north end zone, was installed in 1998 and is outdated in comparison to most other Big Ten stadiums.

This summer, the image below began circulating around the internet about being a possible upgrade. But that image has a video board in the north end zone and MSU senior associate athletics director Greg Ianni told the Lansing State Journal much of the design has not been determined.

Ianni told the LSJ there would be "no comparison" to the current boards and that the new boards would be different than the new ones at Michigan Stadium.

Ianni said the hope is to have them done by the 2012 opener against Boise State, but there still are hurdles to get over. An important point from the Freep, the boards will be paid for by the athletic department. I think recent $1 million donations from Tom Izzo and Magic Johnson have helped bring this closer to reality.

The website that released the above rendering no longer has it up. Instead, a Spartan logo with "Coming Soon" is shown.

I think a larger video board should be in the north end zone. The north end zone stands hold the fewest amount of people and the sun usually is near the south end zone, sometimes making it hard to see the current board. A north end zone board would cover up some tree scenery, but the south end zone is affected more by wind, and I think it's a sacrifice fans would be willing to make.

Monday, December 5, 2011

MSU, U-M banter begins after bowl selection

Get your countdown clocks ready.

It wasn't a surprise, Michigan being selected by the Sugar Bowl and MSU falling to the Outback Bowl. But once it happened, boy did the social media world light up.

It started Saturday night, when U-M fans began celebrating MSU's loss in the Big Ten Championship. I wasn't online, but a few U-M fans were taunting MSU fans leaving Lucas Oil Stadium.

At that point, the results were all but official in terms of the teams' bowl destinations, and that's when the complaining from MSU fans began. Yes, the fact that U-M is in the top 14 of the BCS standings and MSU is not means you can't just put MSU in the Sugar Bowl. The complaining was pointed at the fact that MSU was penalized for having to play another game. But, they controlled their destiny — something they didn't a year ago — and didn't come through. They said Rose Bowl or bust and they busted.

Based on the tweets I was getting, MSU fans were more concerned with U-M than Georgia and U-M fans were more concerned with MSU's complaining than Virginia Tech.

After MSU's loss, Kirk Cousins didn't hold back his emotions on the fact U-M would jump MSU, while the Wolverines "sat home (Saturday) on the couch." So some Michigan players were asked about those comments while talking to media after being selected to the Sugar Bowl last night.

Kevin Koger didn't bite, but Ryan Van Bergen did, saying "I mean, if he wants to be able to sit on the couch and watch us play in the Big Ten championship game, then he can do that. We would have loved to trade places and have that chance and have that opportunity. All complaints aside, they had an opportunity to the Rose Bowl sitting right in front of them to grab, and they didn’t seize the opportunity."

While MSU's football banquet was going on, some players began tweeting about U-M while Mark Dantonio apparently referred to U-M as "The University of Whatever." (Is that the new "Ohio?")

But as Angelique Chengelis pointed out, Cousins and Van Bergen are seniors. They don't have to play each other again. The MSU seniors who spoke to the media after the banquet didn't say anything toward the Wolverines. They're smarter than that. Athletics director Mark Hollis expressed frustration. However, the younger Spartans on Twitter didn't hold back. 

Among the tweets, Nick Hill said Michigan got lucky. Tony Lippett said, "Michigan sucks and we will prove it every year." Hill later added that MSU won the division and pointed out four wins in a row over U-M.

But some players took the high road, like Max Bullough, who tweeted that he doesn't care who went to what bowl and that he's focused on MSU's next game. (That's why he's a team leader, folks)

Today, Le'Veon Bell pointed the frustration toward next year's game, tweeting "But just kno this, when we bring home Paul Bunyon next year he will graduate as a 5th year senior...MSU>UM anyday of the week."

This is the point where some hoped the rivalry would get, where, day-in and day-out, MSU and U-M fans would banter back and forth, and both had solid ground to stand on. This is what makes the U-M/MSU and U-M/OSU rivalries different. The fanbases interact on a daily basis. That's what an in-state rivalry is. Texas can be rivals with Oklahoma and with Texas A&M. They're different (or were before A&M left for the SEC). That's what makes Alabama/Auburn such a good rivalry. Fanbases living together and hating each other every day.

Last year, the trash-talking began in the offseason, with Morgan Trent saying MSU didn't beat a real Michigan team. Now the trash-talking has begun before this season has even ended. 

U-M is back under Brady Hoke and MSU isn't going away under Dantonio. This rivalry is going to be very competitive in football and basketball for years to come.

Is it Oct. 20, 2012 yet?

(By the way, the hockey team plays U-M this weekend)

Worthy named AFCA All-American

Defensive tackle Jerel Worthy has been named to the American Football Coaches Association All-American Team.

Six Big Ten players are on the list, which can be seen here.

Hollis, players talk bowl, BCS (w/ VIDEO)

It's not the Rose Bowl, and that disappointment still lingered as athletics director Mark Hollis and some MSU seniors spoke to the media at Kellogg Center after their annual banquet. The Spartans will take on Georgia for the second time in four years, this time in the Outback Bowl, which will be played on Jan. 2 in Tampa.

Hollis was obviously upset the Spartans were left out of the Rose Bowl, but said "The healing process started quickly and it ended quickly." He was asked about Michigan getting into the Sugar Bowl without playing. "I don't understand the BCS. … We wish all Big Ten teams success in their endeavors. We're focused on where Michigan State is going."

Hollis said he walked the streets of Indianapolis for a long time after the game Saturday night. He's a guy who has pointed to the Rose Bowl since he came to MSU and talked again about how special it is to him. So obviously, he described Saturday night as painful. But he said as he walked the streets, he noticed a "cohesion" among Spartan fans stronger than ever.

He's disappointed, but said the Spartans wouldn't have any "sour grapes" about where they're going. Asked if the Spartan fan base should be offended, Hollis emphasized how well MSU has traveled to Florida for bowls and to Indy on Saturday. His job now turns to selling the game to fans, as MSU was given an allotment of 11,500 tickets and Hollis needs to make sure the fans aren't sick of Florida yet.

Trenton Robinson was only asked a couple questions, and said he was still hurting.

B.J. Cunningham might be a little more excited than any other Spartan, as he hasn't played in a bowl since the 2009 Capital One Bowl against Georgia his freshman year. He was suspended for the 2009 Alamo Bowl after the Rather Hall incident and was injured for last season's Capital One Bowl. Both Cunningham and Foreman emphasized how goals are still ahead of them. MSU hasn't won a bowl game under Dantonio and the seniors was to go out on a high note. A bowl win against an SEC team surely would be a step for the program.

Kirk Cousins still appeared to be visually upset about Saturday night. He reiterated that it was the worst loss of his athletic career. You could still sense the sadness in his voice. He pointed out that you don't usually see teams win 21 games in two years and miss out on BCS. Unfortunately for him, MSU missed that chance to gain major respect. He ended with some positive comments, mentioning how it's funny MSU is upset being ranked No. 13 and going to a New Year's Day bowl, and that no one would have imagined that three years ago. He said MSU is here to last.

Mark Dantonio was supposed to speak, but apparently he left and his cell phone was dead. I'm sure he would have loved the U-M questions that were going to come his way.

Some of Cousins comments from the postgame presser were brought up to Michigan players. Perhaps not a coincidence, MSU players began lighting up Twitter ranting against the Wolverines and the BCS. I'll have more on this tomorrow. This rivalry stuff is heated.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

MSU to play Georgia in Outback Bowl

Not a surprise. This via MSUAA head Scott Westerman.

Now heading to Kellogg Center to get comments from Hollis, Dantonio and players.

Awards handed out at annual football banquet

The list, per MSU:

Governor's Award (Most Valuable Player): Wide Receiver B.J. Cunningham

Downtown Coaches Club Award - Outstanding Senior Offense: Quarterback Kirk Cousins, Wide Receiver B.J. Cunningham

Downtown Coaches Club Award - Outstanding Senior Defense: Safety Trenton Robinson

Downtown Coaches Club Award - Outstanding Senior Special Teams: Wide Receiver/Punt Returner Keshawn Martin

President's Award (Perseverance): Senior Lineman – Kevin Pickelman; Senior Wide Receiver – Keith Nichol

Danziger Award (Outstanding Detroit-Area Player): Offense – Keshawn Martin; Defense – William Gholston

Up Front Award (Outstanding Offensive Lineman): Left Guard Joel Foreman

Outstanding Underclass Back Award: Offense – Le’Veon Bell; Defense – Isaiah Lewis

Outstanding Underclass Lineman Award: Offense – Chris McDonald; Defense – Jerel Worthy
Right Guard Chris McDonald
MSU Football Players Association's Community Service & Outreach Award (Senior): Tight End Brian Linthicum

Clarence J. Underwood Jr. Sportsmanship Award: Quarterback Kirk Cousins, Safety Trenton Robinson

Tommy Love Award (Most Improved Player): Fullback Todd Anderson; Linebacker Denicos Allen

Jim Adams Award (Unsung Heroes): Offense – Garrett Celek; Defense – Chris Norman

Biggie Munn Award (Most Inspirational Player): Offensive Guard Arthur Ray Jr.

Captain's Award: Quarterback Kirk Cousins, Offensive Guard Joel Foreman, Safety Trenton Robinson

Potsy Ross Award (Top Scholar-Athletes):
Punter Mike Sadler – 4.0 Applied Engineering Science
Linebacker Max Bullough – 3.93 Finance
Quarterback Andrew Maxwell – 3.76 Supply Chain Management
Offensive Lineman Nate Klatt – 3.78 Accounting
Iron Man Award (Strength & Conditioning): Defensive tackle Kevin Pickelman
Doug Weaver Oil Can Award (Team Humorist): Wide Receiver Chris D. Rucker
Cowing Award (Senior Manager): AJ Yunker
Con Demos Scholarship Award (Manager): Kameron Bouchard

Thoughts on MSU's loss vs. Wisconsin

What a game. The first half was almost identical to the first half of the previous meeting, when MSU feel behind by 14 and rallied back in the second quarter — with an incredible lateral from Keith Nichol to Cunningham for a TD and a fake FG two-point conversion. It came down to the final possessions, when Trenton Robinson and Isaiah Lewis blew the coverage on Russell Wilson's 4th-down heave, later resulting in a touchdown, and Lewis' running into the kicker penalty. Just like the first meeting, this one was an instant classic, it just fell on the wrong side for the Spartans.

MSU led in all the major stats, but two turnovers hurt, and one led to a Wisconsin touchdown. Kirk Cousins and B.J. Cunningham really boosted their NFL stock, racking up yards and points on one of the best pass defenses in the NFL nation (doh!). Cousins went 22-for-30 for 281 yards and three touchdowns, all of which ended up in Cunningham's hands. Cunningham finished with five catches for 115 yards. Denicos Allen was all over the place with all three of MSU's sacks along with four tackles for loss.

The game was not lost on the final penalty. Had there been no penalty, I don't believe Keshawn Martin would have returned the punt like he did. Some of Wisconsin's players didn't give much effort, knowing there was the penalty. And there are no guarantees the Spartans would have won or tied the game on that drive. Mark Dantonio called the punt block, and knowing he has such an aggressive team, that is the risk you take. Yes, it was a penalty too.

The game was lost on some fourth-quarter decisions. When the Spartans got into the red zone early in the fourth quarter, it was quite clear they were playing it safe and playing for a field goal. Kirk Cousins had lit up the Badger secondary all game and two runs on the first two plays told me they just wanted points.

As good as the MSU defense played after the first quarter, the safeties had questionable performances. Two long pass plays - the TD to Jared Abbrederis and the 4th down heave to Duckworth- were the result of blown coverages from the safeties.

I also didn't agree with the decision to punt with three minutes left. Although MSU was a penalty away from getting the ball back, I felt they should have gone for it on fourth down. Also, it looked like Cousins might have had running room on third down, although it was almost a spectacular catch.

We all know the system is broken. Michigan will go to a BCS bowl over MSU, just like 1999. But this is the way things have been and unless someone steps up to take down the BCS, it won't change. MSU is the better team, and the more deserving team, but the BCS is not built for that. This will only add more fuel to the rivalry fire.

As for everything outside the game, the inaugural championship game was a rousing success for the Big Ten. The game was great, I'm sure the ratings will be high. Indianapolis was a great setup. Everything is in walking distance, the weather was great, the stadium is great. All in all, a big success.

Perhaps despite the visual at the game, MSU fans invaded Indy. Everywhere I went, there were MSU fans. It may my have looked there weren't many at the game, but the two-color thing always makes it look like there are fewer fans than there actually are. Wisconsin fans all wore red, so it sticks out more, but there were a lot of MSU fans throughout the Wisconsin section. The announced crowd was 64,000, but the stadium was mostly full outside of the Wisconsin end zone. I think MSU fans should be earning a reputation of traveling well to neutral site games, and I think they would travel extremely well to a BCS bowl this year.

Looking ahead. MSU will probably end up in the Outback Bowl against Georgia. It's not the Rose Bowl, but it's a high-profile matchup. Hopefully MSU fans aren't sick of Florida and will make the trip down to see what should be a good game. Georgia lost in the SEC Championship to LSU. A bowl win over an SEC team would definitely bring some respect that slipped away Saturday.

The season is not over. I feel bad for Cousins not being able to make that elusive Rose Bowl, but it still would be nice for him to finish his career on a high note. The BCS selection show is at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN and the rest of the bowls should come out shortly after. I will post bowl thoughts then.

So again, thank you Indianapolis and the Big Ten for putting on a great cash-grab of an event. I really did have a good time, and despite the loss, I'm sure MSU fans would agree. It looks like this is the start of something good. Some pictures I tweeted from the day can be seen here.