Sunday, February 25, 2024

Megaphone trophy returns

Victory over Notre Dame brings rivalry trophy back to 'U'

Sophomore receiver Kyle Brown heads toward the end zone saturday in South Bend, Indiana. Brown led the team with three receptions for 26 yards in the Spartans' 22-16 victory over the Irish. It was the first time this season Brown was the team leader in receptions. —

Monquiz Wedlow has never been happier to hold a cheerleader's megaphone. The only problem - no one had a camera to take a picture of him and MSU head football coach John L. Smith.

The senior bandit emerged from the visiting locker room after Saturday's victory over rival Notre Dame with "The Megaphone" trophy, the award given to the winning school of the annual MSU-Notre Dame contest.

The Spartans defeated the Irish for the 24th time and haven't lost at Notre Dame Stadium since 1994. With the win, MSU became the most successful Big Ten opponent of Notre Dame, edging by Michigan, which has 23 wins over the Irish. Southern Cal is the overall wins leader when playing Notre Dame, with 27.

The current contract between MSU and Notre Dame has the teams playing annually through 2011. MSU is looking to keep a grasp on the Megaphone for the duration of that contract.

Fields day

MSU redshirt freshman punter Brandon Fields earned his second Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honor after averaging 53.8 yards per punt.

Fields launched one punt 79 yards against Notre Dame this past weekend, the fifth longest in Spartan history. The first-year punter also stuck three balls inside the Notre Dame 20-yard line.

The 6-foot-5, 219-pounder was not only keeping the Irish at bay with his leg on special teams but also entered the game as the holder for junior place-kicker Dave Rayner and a member of the onside kick recovery team.

Safety supreme

Sophomore safety Eric Smith, who led the Spartans with 12 tackles and two sacks Saturday against the Irish, also received conference honors. Smith was named co-Defensive Player of the Week by the Big Ten, alongside Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway.

Smith was listed as probable heading into the weekend after injuring his shoulder against Louisiana in the game prior.

Sweet redemption

Redshirt freshman quarterback Drew Stanton recovered the onside kick attempted by Notre Dame on Saturday.

Stanton lost the ball on a Louisiana Tech onside kick last week, which led to the Bulldogs' winning touchdown drive.

Dominant D

After giving up just 100 rushing yards to the run-oriented Irish, MSU's rush defense is ranked third in the nation.

The Spartans, who are allowing 41.2 rushing yards per game, also lead the Big Ten in sacks. MSU's blitzing defense has dropped opposing quarterbacks 17 times in its four games this season.

The Spartans amassed 19 sacks in all of last season, finishing ninth in the conference.

Knott returns

Junior tight end Eric Knott also came off the injury list to play against the Irish.

The Detroit native injured his knee in the season opener against Western Michigan and was listed as questionable before the game. He took the field with the punt recovery team in the fourth quarter during the Irish's unsuccessful onside kick.

Injury update

Though Knott and Smith saw playing-time, some Spartans are still under the weather and might not play in the Big Ten opener against No. 13 Iowa this weekend.

Head coach John L. Smith said many players are still sore from the tough match in South Bend, Ind., and will need some time to rest up and be ready for the Hawkeyes.

"(Tyrell) Dortch is kind of up in the air right now - he's questionable," Smith said about the injury-plagued running back.

"Knott should be ready to go," Smith said. "(Brandon) McKinney will not be. Agim (Shabaj) should be okay, his shoulder is sore. (Senior linebacker Mike) Labinjo got a tweak in his hand, but he's okay."

McKinney, a defensive tackle, has been on the injured list ever since hurting his foot after the Western Michigan game. Smith said he doubts that he will redshirt the junior co-captain.

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