Michigan State football team needs win over Maryland to become bowl eligible
EAST LANSING (AP) — Mark Dantonio has been down this road before at Michigan State.
In 2012, the Spartans needed to win their final regular-season game to become bowl eligible, and they beat Minnesota that day behind 266 yards rushing by Le’Veon Bell. This weekend, Michigan State is in the same spot, needing to beat Maryland on Saturday to reach six victories.
“When you win your sixth game, you sort of meet the minimum in terms of accomplishment,” Dantonio said. “You’re bowl eligible, you have a chance for a winning season and things of that nature.”
Dantonio has missed out on a bowl game only once since becoming Michigan State’s coach before the 2007 season, so that is indeed the minimum standard for a team like the Spartans. In truth, this year has been a disappointment even if Michigan State (5-6, 3-5 Big Ten) reaches a bowl.
The Spartans looked utterly inferior against the top teams on their schedule, and after a 44-10 loss to Michigan two weeks ago, they needed to win their next two games to salvage bowl eligibility. They had little trouble last weekend, blanking Rutgers 27-0.
“The only thing we can sort of change is the future,” Dantonio said. “While we are disappointed in where we are at, we still have an opportunity to play ourselves forward and that’s what we’ll do.”
Maryland won its first two games by a combined 142-20, but the Terps (3-8, 1-7) have scored only 145 points in the nine games since. Their only win in that span was against Rutgers.
“I think it’s really important for our team to understand the importance of this one, finishing the season the right way for our seniors but also trying to utilize it as some momentum as we move forward into next season,” coach Michael Locksley said.
“Our players have continued to show up and practice. The expectation is for them to show up and play the way that they’re capable of playing Saturday for our seniors.”
It will be the last home game for Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke, a fifth-year senior who became the first quarterback for the Spartans to surpass 7,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing for his career.
Standout defensive linemen Raequan Williams and Kenny Willekes are fifth-year seniors as well.