Michigan State Football 2015 Bowl Capsule

Michigan State Spartans
Big Ten


It has been a very interesting season for Michigan State and they have certainly had a flair for the dramatic. The Green and White slipped past Oregon early in the season and struggled more than Spartan fans would have liked against teams like Purdue and Rutgers. And then came the improbable and amazing win at Michigan. A couple weeks later, Michigan State’s luck went the other way as they lost controversially to Nebraska on a last second play. But MSU was able to win ugly at Ohio State to win the Big Ten East.

2015 Record: 12-1, 7-1
Coach: Mark Dantonio
Coach Bowl Record: 5-4

Big Wins: 11/21 at Ohio State (17-14), 12/5 vs Iowa (16-13)
Bad Losses: 11/7 at Nebraska (38-39)

Connor Cook has had a great senior season and he deserves plenty of accolades. During the regular season, he threw for 24 touchdowns and four interceptions. It has been that efficient, effective passing attack that has made the difference for the Spartans offense. Wide receiver Aaron Burbridge has emerged as Cook’s favorite target and is a big play threat. R.J. Shelton and Macgarrett Kings both had some big games as well. Once Cook takes his team into the red zone, that is where tight end Josiah Price comes into play. He had just 18 catches during the regular season, but six of those resulted in touchdowns. The defense and special teams have made some huge plays. The team as a whole has one of the best turnover ratios in the country and the roster is loaded with defensive playmakers. The Spartans returned two interceptions and three fumbles for touchdowns and many of those plays turned the tide of the game.

Normally Michigan State has a great ground game and an even better defense. This year the defense will make big plays, but they also give up a lot of yards. Linebacker Riley Bullough is a great leader and the front line has some superb talent with Shilique Calhoun, Malik McDowell and Lawrence Thomas. But ranking seventh in the Big Ten in total defense and sixth in scoring defense is not where Coach Mark Dantonio expects his team to be. It is still a good defense, but not nearly as good as it has been over the last couple of seasons. And the ground game is not nearly as effective either. The team ranked eighth in the conference in rushing offense and nobody has stepped up and become the go-to-back for Michigan State. Historically, MSU has one great back and many expected that somebody would emerge as the guy. Instead, L.J. Scott, Gerald Holmes and Madre London have split carries. Late in the season, Holmes has taken on a bigger role, but he still rushed for just 65 and 64 yards, respectively, against both Ohio State and Penn State to end the regular season.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: LJ Scott, RB, 691 yards
Passing: Connor Cook, QB, 2,921 yards
Receiving: Aaron Burbridge, WR, 1,219 yards
Tackles: Riley Bullough, LB, 95
Sacks: Shilique Calhoun, DE, 10.5
Interceptions: Demetrious Cox, DB, 3; Montae Nicholson, S, 3

2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 159.6 (79th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 239.8 (48, 4)
Total Offense: 399.4 (68, 5)
Scoring Offense: 33.4 (44, 4)
Rushing Defense: 118.2 (16, 5)
Pass Defense: 231.0 (74, 9)
Total Defense: 349.2 (27, 7)
Scoring Defense: 21.1 (22, 6)
Turnover Margin: 1.17 (4, 1)
Sacks: 2.67 (25, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.25 (19, 3)

Recent Bowl Appearances:
2014    Cotton Bowl    Baylor (42, 41)
2013    Rose Bowl    Stanford (24-20)
2012    Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl    TCU (17-16)
2011    Outback Bowl    Georgia (33-30)
2010    Capital One Bowl    Alabama (7-49)
2009    Alamo Bowl    Texas Tech (31-41)
2008    Capital One Bowl    Georgia (12-24)
2007    Champs Sports Bowl    Boston College (21-24)

*all team stats through 11/30


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