Michigan St., Oregon look to salvage seasons with bowl win
Michigan State (7-5) vs. Oregon (8-4), Monday, 3 p.m. EST (Fox).
Line: Oregon by 2½.
Series Record: Tied 3-3.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Both teams were ranked in the top 15 of the AP Top 25 earlier this season and had much higher aspirations than the Redbox Bowl. But ending the season with a win against an opponent with pedigree would provide a silver lining to an otherwise disappointing campaign.
Redbox Bowl Matchup
Michigan State (7-5, Big Ten) vs. Oregon (8-4, Pac-12), Dec. 31, 3 p.m. EST.
LOCATION: Santa Clara, California.
Michigan State: QB Brian Lewerke threw for 1,868 yards and eight TDs but with 10 interceptions this season and was sidelined with a shoulder injury late in the year. But there is plenty of time for him to get healthy. DE Kenny Willekes is the Big Ten defensive lineman of the year.
Big Ten: Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald voted coach of year
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald is the unanimous choice for Big Ten coach of the year.
The conference on Tuesday announced half its postseason awards based on voting by coaches and media. Fitzgerald led the Wildcats (8-4) to the West Division title after going winless in nonconference play and losing several starters to injuries.
Bob Wojnowski, Matt Charboneau and Angelique Chengelis talk about spring football and the latest news with Mark Dantonio's Spartans and Jim Harbaugh's Wolverines.
Here are some of the highlights from The Detroit News' College Football Show.
► 1:50: Matt Charboneau on the MSU offensive line
► 3:30: Quarterbacks Brian Lewerke, Rocky Lombardi, Theo Day
► 5:40: Running backs LJ Scott, Connor Heyward
► 7:00: Defensive starters, new coaches
► 8:30: Linebacker Joe Bachie, defensive end Kenny Willekes
East Lansing — Kenny Willekes knows a little something about coming out of nowhere.
The former walk-on went from an unknown defensive end who was starting to turn heads last spring to starting 12 games as a sophomore in 2017 and earning third-team All-Big Ten honors while recording 14.5 tackles for loss, including seven sacks.
So, when Willekes brings up a name that hasn't been talked about much, it's worth paying attention.
Most valuable player, offense: There are a few directions to go here as it's hard to overlook the impressive stretch QB Brian Lewerke had in the middle of Big Ten play and the receivers, as a whole, played a big role in MSU's success. But the choice her is junior WR Felton Davis. He led the team with 51 catches for 658 yards and eight touchdowns, which ranked third in the Big Ten. He proved to be Lewerke's favorite target in the red zone and had three two-touchdown games while ranking sixth in the Big Ten in receptions per game (4.3).
Spartans showing signs of possible rebound on defense
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Nobody has to tell Michigan State's Kenny Willekes how poor his team's pass rush was last year.
After the Spartans had four sacks against Western Michigan last weekend — bringing their season total to five — the sophomore defensive end admitted he understood the significance of stats like that.
"I do. I do. That's been a big focal point for us this offseason," Willekes said. "Having five already, two games in, is huge."