Spartan players still eyeing potential bowl game

As the MSU football team nears the end of a disappointing regular season, the Spartans head into their final game against Minnesota on Saturday looking for a win and a bowl game berth to boost them into next season.

If MSU wins on Saturday and goes to a bowl, the team will earn an extra 15 practices, which sophomore linebacker Taiwan Jones said only will benefit him and the team.

“It gives me extra football and extra knowledge,” Jones said. “(The teams we’ll play have) different schemes than the Big Ten and it makes you better.”

Justin Wan / The State News

The Spartans (5-6 overall, 2-5 Big Ten) came into the season with high expectations after being ranked No. 13 in the AP’s preseason Top 25, but have struggled to finish games, junior linebacker Denicos Allen said.

Of the six Spartan losses, the loss against Notre Dame was the only game MSU lost by a margin of more than four points. MSU lost to the Irish 20-3.

However, Allen said much like each of the past few seasons, expectations will continue to be high for next season.

“Everyone on this team is sick about our record,” he said. “I expect to be in a BCS bowl somewhere next year. That’s always my expectation.”

Despite the poor record, senior offensive guard Chris McDonald said he didn’t believe the record accurately showed the talent of the football team and said the team didn’t give up after facing a lot of adversity and being “backed up in a corner,” which he said will only help next year’s team.

Junior wide receiver Bennie Fowler compared this season a lot to the 2009 season where the Spartans had a 6-7 record and lost many close games as well, despite coming into that season with high expectations.

“We’ve had some ups and downs … but there’s no substitute for experience,” Fowler said. “(In 2009), we learned a lot … and we had a lot of people coming back and it carried over. We went 11-1 the next season.”

Since head coach Mark Dantonio was hired to lead the program prior to the 2007 season, his teams never have failed to make a bowl appearance, with the most recent appearance coming in the Outback Bowl last season. The Spartans went on to beat Georgia in triple overtime to secure Dantonio’s first postseason victory with the program.

Regardless of the direction of season to this point, junior running back Le’Veon Bell said the team doesn’t want to make this the first season without a bowl game — and he will do anything within his power to make that the case.

“We want to be in a bowl game and we need to win this game and go out there and execute,” Bell said. “(Bowl games build) momentum for the next year.”

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