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Friday, September 19, 2014 | Last updated: 8:59pm

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MSU Football Blog

NCAA restores Penn State's postseason eligibility

By Robert Bondy          Last updated: 09/08/14 11:55pm         

Big news came out of the college football world on Monday when the NCAA restored Penn State’s ability to participate in postseason bowl games and receive all 85 of its football scholarships by next season.

Penn State has been on probation since 2012 when the NCAA issued a four year bowl ban and loss of 20 scholarships each year because of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s actions.

With the latest announcement from the NCAA, Penn State is eligible to immediately compete for a bowl game, and more importantly for MSU fans, the Big Ten Championship.

The Big Ten issued a statement on Monday that reads “The Big Ten Conference, through its Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COPC), has agreed today to restore Penn State’s eligibility for the Big Ten Football Championship Game. The agreement follows the announcement today, by the NCAA, to further modify sanctions set forth in the Consent Decree entered into with Penn State on July 23, 2012, including the elimination of Penn State’s postseason football ban, effective immediately, and the restoration of its full complement of football scholarships beginning with the 2015-16 academic year. As a result of the announcement, based strongly on recommendations by Independent Athletics Integrity Monitor Senator George Mitchell, Penn State will be eligible to compete in both the Big Ten Football Championship Game and a bowl game, beginning with the current season.”

Penn State is currently 2-0 overall and is in the same division as MSU in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions now become potentially MSU’s biggest threat to win the East Division, and steal what many considered MSU’s spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Big Ten Roundup — Week one

By Robert Bondy          Last updated: 09/01/14 4:50pm         

College football finally returned this past weekend with all 14 Big Ten teams participating in non-conference action, including the new kids on the block — Maryland and Rutgers.

Here are the scores from around the Big Ten from the opening weekend:

No. 8 MSU-45 vs. Jacksonville State-7

Minnesota-42 vs. Eastern Illinois-20

Rutgers-41 vs. Washington State-38 (Game played at neutral site in Seattle, WA)

Penn State-26 vs. UCF-24 (Game played at neutral site in Dublin, Ireland)

Illinois-28 vs. Youngstown State-17

Indiana-28 vs. Indiana State-10

Iowa-31 vs. Northern Iowa-23

Michigan-52 vs. Appalachian State-14

No. 5 Ohio State-34 vs. Navy-17 (Game played at neutral site in Baltimore, MD)

Purdue-43 vs. Western Michigan-34

No. 22 Nebraska-55 vs. Florida Atlantic-7

Northwestern-24 vs. California-31

Maryland-52 vs. James Madison-7

No. 14 Wisconsin-24 vs. No. 13 LSU-28 (Game played at neutral site in Houston)

The Big Ten was consistent this opening week with an overall record of 12-2. The opening few weeks normally serve as an opportunity for the league to either help or hurt its image and overall the Big Ten looked solid. A win over LSU for Wisconsin would have been big, but Rutgers and Penn State winning tough matchups was a good sign.

MSU football Head Coach Mark Dantonio was pleased with the league’s play in week one, stating “the Big Ten represented itself across the board yesterday.”

This upcoming week will go a long way in helping the league’s image, with marquee match-ups against No. 3 Oregon, No. 17 Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. 

MSU ranked NCAA team with fourth-most NFL talent

By Omari Sankofa II          Last updated: 08/10/14 2:39pm         

Within the past few years, it's become apparent just how adept MSU is at developing internal talent. And the national media is beginning to take notice. 

On Friday, MSU was ranked the NCAA team with the fourth-highest amount of NFL talent by NFL.com. Only the Alabama Crimson Tide, Florida State Seminoles and Oregon Ducks placed higher in the ranking. 

The list included junior defensive end Shilique Calhoun, junior cornerback Trae Waynes, senior running back Jeremy Langford, senior safety Kurtis Drummond and junior quarterback Connor Cook as players who could make their mark in the NFL. 

"Dantonio has routinely churned out solid pros since his arrival, and he has a nice set of underclassmen already garnering significant attention from NFL scouts," the story, written by NFL media anaylst Bucky Brooks, said. "If Shilique Calhoun and Connor Cook build upon their solid 2013 campaigns, they could be the next blue-chip selections to make the move from East Lansing to the pros."

Freshman defensive end Malik McDowell received the "Newcomer in the Spotlight" nod. McDowell, a top recruit coming out of high school, has impressed head coach Mark Dantonio and the rest of the coaching staff in camp.

"The Spartans quietly put out quality defensive linemen that carve out successful stints in the pro ranks," the story reads. "McDowell certainly has the physical tools and athleticism to become a key contributor down the road."

MSU football releases 2014 preseason depth chart

By Omari Sankofa II          Last updated: 07/28/14 12:20pm         

There are few surprises on the MSU football preseason depth chart, released today via the official MSU football Twitter handle. 

A few items of note — junior RJ Williamson is listed as the No. 1 strong safety, with redshirt freshman Jalyn Powell under him. 

Sophomore Darian Hicks is the No. 1 field corner opposite of junior Trae Waynes, who is listed as the No. 1 "bc." Senior Kurtis Drummond is the No. 1 free safety. Demetrious Cox is the No. 2 free safety under Drummond. 

Junior Lawrence Thomas is the No. 2 defensive end under senior Marcus Rush.

Senior Jeremy Langford will resume his spot as the No. 1 running back with senior Nick Hill backing him up. Junior Connor Cook is the lead quarterback, with sophomore Tyler O'Connor and redshirt freshman Damion Terry filling the No. 2 and No. 3 spots

Shilique Calhoun named to 2014 preseason Big Ten 'Players to Watch' list

By Omari Sankofa II          Last updated: 07/28/14 9:51am         

The Big Ten announced Monday morning junior defensive end Shilique Calhoun has been named to the Big Ten football preseason Players to Watch List. 

The annual list consists of 10 players, five from each division, who are picked by a media panel. 

Calhoun is coming off of a breakout season that saw him named 2013 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. The 6-foot-4, 257 pound defensive end posted 14 tackles, 7.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three touchdowns last season and recently emerged as the favorite for the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year award, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer last week. 

Ohio State senior quarterback Braxton Miller made the list for the third consecutive year. Rounding out the East Division are Michigan junior wide receiver Devin Funchess, Maryland junior wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and Penn State sophomore wide receiver Christian Hackenberg. 

The West Division representatives include Nebraska senior running back Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska junior defensive end Randy Gregory, Wisconsin redshirt junior running back Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin redshirt senior running back Rob Havenstein and Iowa senior offensive lineman Brandon Scherff.

MSU to square off against Arizona State in 2018, '19

By Derek Gartee          Last updated: 05/13/14 5:43pm         

MSU is expanding its out-of-conference play when it faces down Arizona State University in a "home-and-home" matchup beginning in 2018.

On Sept. 8, four years from now, the MSU football team will face off against Arizona State in a two-game series. The first game will be on Sept. 8, 2018 at Arizona State, with the Spartans' home game scheduled for Sept. 14, 2019.

"The Arizona State series provides MSU Alums in the West and Southwest with an opportunity to see the Spartans compete against one of the Pac-12's top football programs," MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis said in a statement.

In the past, MSU and Arizona State have only faced off in two other games — both during a two-game series in 1985.

In those games, MSU and Arizona State each won a single match at their home field leaving the all-time record tied at 1-1.

ESPN analyst Kiper talks Dennard, Bullough as NFL Draft approaches

By Erik Sargent          Last updated: 04/23/14 4:16pm         

With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, many athletes have spent the last few months preparing in hopes of hearing their name called during the three-day draft.

MSU has a host of players who are anticipating hearing their name called, with many others that will look for other chances to the NFL.

The biggest names coming from the green and white with NFL potential are cornerback Darqueze Dennard, linebacker Max Bullough, safety Isaiah Lewis and wide receiver Bennie Fowler.

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. held a conference call today discussing his notes on the NFL draft, and had some good things to say about the Spartan players, especially Dennard, who is a projected first-round draft pick.

“Darqueze Dennard is an in-your-face, tough, aggressive corner,” Kiper said. “He’s a rough, tough, aggressive football player who plays with a chip on his shoulder, very good in coverage, plays fast and is just a whale of a football player.”

Kiper has Dennard as his top corner available in the draft, which is high praise considering the talent pool at the cornerback position. He also claimed Dennard to be one of the most complete players in the entire draft.

As for Bullough, who was the heart and soul of the Spartan defense, his draft stock is a little lower than Dennard’s.

Bullough, who was suspended for the Rose Bowl for an undisclosed violation of team rules, is projected as more of a second or third-day guy in the NFL draft by Kiper.

“With Bullough, you look at today’s NFL and look at the inside linebacker position and the value, I’d say fourth round is where I’d start to consider him,” Kiper said. “Bullough is a smart football player, great bloodline, plays between the tackles and is adequate dropping back. More of a fourth, fifth-round type of guy.”

For guys like Denicos Allen, Fou Fonoti, Fowler and Lewis, Kiper sees them as late-round or free agent-type players.

“You have a lot of late-round and free agent guys in there,” Kiper said. “It’s hard to say if they’ll get drafted. I think there’s guys in there who will help on special teams right away and they’re kind of that overachiever type of players for the NFL.”

Football schedule includes night game against Nebraska

By Ben Stram          Last updated: 04/15/14 5:03pm         

?The excitement in the MSU fan base for the upcoming football season is higher than it has been for 26 years.

This might explain why people are looking forward to next year’s schedule so quickly.

The Spartans already have one night game scheduled this season, as they’ll play Nebraska in a home game at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 4. The game will be televised by either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.

Over the next couple months, more game times for the Michigan State football schedule will be put together slowly.

MSU’s schedule already dealt with adjustments. The season opening home game against Jacksonville State was moved from Saturday, August 30 to Friday, August 29.

The schedule also brings two newcomers this year. MSU will be playing both at Maryland on November 15 and at home against Rutgers November 22.

MSU will also be vying for some primetime spots at night this season with home games against Michigan and Ohio State, a rematch of the Big Ten Championship game, which would garner a lot of attention nationally.

First game moved up from Saturday to Friday

By Matt Sheehan          Last updated: 04/01/14 7:42pm         

For the fourth season in a row, MSU football announced they will be opening their season on a Friday, moving the game to Aug. 29.

While the game time and TV station has yet to be announced, Spartan fans can expect a night game if MSU follows the pattern they have for the three previous seasons.

The Friday game will allow fans to have a free Saturday during Labor Day weekend, which is awfully courteous if you ask me.

The game against Jacksonville State falling on a Friday will give the Spartans one extra day to rest before they face Oregon in Eugene, Ore. the following weekend.

If August is too long of a wait for you, there is the spring game to look forward to on April 26 at 2 p.m.

Dantonio, Izzo named top coaching duo in nation

By Matt Sheehan          Last updated: 02/24/14 7:08pm         

Life isn’t too bad for MSU athletics.

Coming straight off a Rose Bowl win and moving into a (mostly) promising basketball season, Spartans all over the world have been bathing in success.

Well, Athlon Sports has seen the same trend and has named Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio the No. 1 men’s basketball and football coaching duo in the nation.

Last season the two earned the No. 7 ranking in the nation, but with Dantonio becoming the second Big Ten head coach to win a Rose Bowl since 2000 Athlon Sports boosted them to the top.

The article also noted how Izzo could reach his second national title and seventh Final Four with a healthy roster, but we all know how hard that is to achieve this season.

Other conference schools joining the Spartans are Ohio State at No. 2, falling from the top spot in last year’s ranking.

Wisconsin is ranked No. 6 in the country with Michigan taking the No. 11 spot after being ranked No. 2 last year.