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11/30/2013 5:19 PM EST
No. 11 Michigan State shuts down Minnesota 14-3
MICHIGAN ST 14, MINNESOTA 3
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Max Bullough left the field after one
last victory at Spartan Stadium, and although the focus would
quickly turn to next weekend's Big Ten title game, the Michigan
State linebacker didn't want to let go of this moment.
"I looked back right before I walked in the tunnel, and just
tried to take it in," said Bullough, a senior. "Just tried to
stop for a minute. That's one of the things that's hard for me -
to just stop for a minute and understand not only the players
I've played with, the coaches I've had, but all the hard work."
Bullough led another fabulous effort by the Michigan State
defense, and the 11th-ranked Spartans wrapped up an unbeaten
regular season in Big Ten play with a 14-3 victory over
Minnesota on Saturday. Jeremy Langford ran for 134 yards and a
touchdown for Michigan State, which had already clinched a spot
in next weekend's league championship game against Ohio State.
The Spartans went undefeated at home for the third time in four
years. They've also reached 11 wins in each of those seasons,
but Michigan State has not played in the Rose Bowl since 1988.
"Everybody sets goals for themselves, and that's a goal that
we've not yet accomplished," coach Mark Dantonio said. "So
that's the No. 1 goal, to be outright Big Ten champion, and the
way the format is structured now, would be something that would
be very important to this program. Obviously, to get to the Rose
Bowl is something that we've aspired to since the day we set
foot on this campus."
The Spartans (11-1, 8-0) finished a perfect Big Ten regular
season for only the third time. They also did it in 1965 and
1966, when they only had to play seven conference games.
There was no letdown against Minnesota (8-4, 4-4). Michigan
State's top-ranked defense forced three turnovers and kept the
Golden Gophers out of the end zone.
The Spartans took the lead right away Saturday on Langford's
15-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, which capped a
seven-play, 80-yard drive. Minnesota's Philip Nelson attempted
only seven passes in the first half, and two of them were picked
off by Michigan State's Trae Waynes.
"You're not going to lose many games giving up three points,"
Chris Hawthorne's 21-yard field goal made it 7-3, and the
Spartans missed a chance to score at the end of the half when
Connor Cook was intercepted at the Minnesota 24 by Derrick Wells
in the final seconds.
Michigan State went 75 yards in eight plays to start the third
quarter and led 14-3 after Cook's 12-yard scoring pass to Josiah
Minnesota had a chance to get back in the game in the fourth
when backup quarterback Mitch Leidner directed a drive deep into
Michigan State territory. But Leidner was sacked and fumbled,
and the Spartans recovered at their own 14 with 4:45 to play.
"It was a physical football game," Gophers coach Jerry Kill
said. "I thought we physically played hard, defensively played
good, and offensively we moved the ball. We just didn't finish
Minnesota's David Cobb ran for 101 yards, not a bad day against
a Michigan State team ranked No. 1 in the nation in total
defense. But Nelson went 6 of 18 for 77 yards, and Leidner was 3
of 7 for 48 yards.
"It makes it tough moving around in the pocket when you've got
guys flying all around you," Leidner said. "Credit to them. They
got great pressure on us. At the same time, our offensive line
played great all day. Both Phil and I have to make throws."
The Gophers had the ball for 38:41, but Michigan State's defense
never seemed to tire.
"Didn't get a whole lot per minute out there, I know that,"
Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said.
Cook went 10 of 20 for 143 yards with an interception.
Michigan State held an opponent without a touchdown for the
fifth time in the last six games. The Spartans won despite
minimal contributions from the offense. Michigan State went 0
for 8 on third down.
Minnesota was held without an offensive touchdown for the second
straight game after losing 20-7 to Wisconsin last weekend.
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