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Stanford at Michigan State

Cook leads Michigan State over Stanford in Rose Bowl

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PASADENA, Calif. -- When Kyler Elsworth soared over the pile to deliver the final hit of Michigan State's season, the storybook ending came with a moral.

After so many years outside the spotlight, the Spartans are in nobody's shadow anymore. And for the first time in 26 years, they're Rose Bowl champions.

Connor Cook passed for a career-high 332 yards and hit Tony Lippett with a tiebreaking 25-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, leading No. 4 Michigan State to a 24-20 victory over No. 5 Stanford on Wednesday night in the 100th Rose Bowl.

Cook also threw a TD pass to Trevon Pendleton, and Jeremy Langford rushed for 84 yards and a score for the Big Ten champion Spartans (13-1), who finished their season with 10 straight wins and their first Rose Bowl victory since 1988.

Michigan State overcame its first double-digit deficit of the entire season along the way, and the Spartans' FBS-best defense capped a dominant season with one more old-school, smash-mouth performance befitting the centennial celebration of the Granddaddy of Them All.

"It's a special time for all Spartans, and we came here in force," coach Mark Dantonio said. "I'm very happy for our football team, the resilience we showed all season long."

Michigan State's defense yielded just 159 yards in the final three quarters and ended it by stopping the Pac-12 champion Cardinal (11-3) on fourth-and-1 near midfield with 1:46 to play, stuffing a run play up the middle.

Elsworth, a fill-in starter for suspended senior linebacker Max Bullough, hurdled the pile to deliver an electrifying, head-on hit to fullback Ryan Hewitt while his teammates helped out below.

"When I saw their offensive linemen's stance, I knew the way to make a play was to go over the top," said Elsworth, selected the game's defensive MVP.

The huge Michigan State contingent in the Rose Bowl stands roared at the play, and even the stone-faced Dantonio visibly celebrated.

"I get a little excited at the Rose Bowl," Dantonio deadpanned.

The Spartans have long labored behind Michigan, Ohio State and even Wisconsin among the Midwest's top programs, but Dantonio's seven-year rebuilding project in East Lansing has put them on top of the Midwest this season with a perfect run through conference play.

After knocking off the unbeaten Buckeyes in the league title game, Michigan State earned the Big Ten's second Rose Bowl win since 2000.

Tyler Gaffney ran for 91 yards and an early TD for Stanford, and linebacker Kevin Anderson returned an interception 40 yards for a score late in the first half. But the Cardinal couldn't follow up last season's success in Pasadena with back-to-back Rose Bowl wins, managing just three points from their offense after the first quarter.

And Gaffney could only watch as Hewitt was stopped on Stanford's final play.

"You have to give it to Michigan State for stuffing that," said Gaffney, who managed just 24 yards after the first quarter. "Everybody in the building knew exactly what was coming. A run was coming up the middle, and it was a test of wills, and they got the better of us."

Cook led in his own inimitable fashion, making incredible plays and huge mistakes along the way. Along with his costly interception to Anderson, he also threw two passes that went through the hands of Cardinal defenders, and an interception in the third quarter was wiped out by a defensive holding call.

But when the Spartans needed big plays in the second half, Cook repeatedly delivered, finishing 22 for 36.

"When we got down, guys were always helping each other," Cook said. "We're such a balanced team."

Kevin Hogan beat Wisconsin in last year's Rose Bowl, but he couldn't match Cook, going 10 for 18 for 143 yards and a key interception for Stanford.

A mere 112 years after the game considered the first Rose Bowl was played in a park elsewhere in Pasadena, Stanford and Michigan State engaged in an old-fashioned slugfest in the venerable stadium that will host the BCS title game Monday night.

Michigan State fans dominated the Rose Bowl grounds and stands, with about 70 percent wearing green in the crowd of 95,173 -- the game's largest turnout since 1998.

After Tournament of Roses Parade grand marshal Vin Scully flipped the coin, Stanford started with a 77-yard drive culminating in Gaffney's 16-yard TD run. Jordan Williamson's field goal put Stanford up 10-0 late in the first quarter, but the Spartans finally connected with a 13-play drive for Langford's TD.

Cook handed seven points to the Cardinal shortly before halftime. With Usua Amanam bearing down on him unblocked, Cook inexplicably threw a soft looping pass directly to Anderson, who returned his first career interception untouched for a score -- the first defensive touchdown allowed by Michigan State all season.

Cook responded with a stellar drive in the waning minutes, moving Michigan State 75 yards in 99 seconds and evading pursuit to deliver Pendleton's 2-yard TD catch 28 seconds before halftime.

Stanford's Shayne Skov forced a fumble by Langford inside the Cardinal 10 late in the third quarter, but Cook connected down the middle with Lippett for the go-ahead score.

Stanford kicked a field goal with 5:05 left.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
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Tony Lippett stretches for a 25-yard touchdown as the Spartans win their first Rose Bowl in 26 years.  (USATSI)
Tony Lippett stretches for a 25-yard touchdown as the Spartans win their first Rose Bowl in 26 years. (USATSI)

 

Latest Video

October 25, 2014
Cook connects with Lippett for 70-yard TD (0:30)
1 October 25, 2014
Gardner intercepted by Williamson for TD
(0:14)
2 October 25, 2014
Michigan State goes up 11 before half
(0:26)
3 October 25, 2014
Holmes returns onside kick for TD
(0:36)
 
Scoring Summary
STNFRDTyler Gaffney 16 yd run (Jordan Williamson kick)
STNFRDJordan Williamson 34 yd FG
MICHSTJeremy Langford 2 yd run (Michael Geiger kick)
STNFRDKevin Anderson 40 yd interception return (Jordan Williamson kick)
MICHSTTrevon Pendleton 2 yd pass from Connor Cook (Michael Geiger kick)
MICHSTMichael Geiger 31 yd FG
MICHSTTony Lippett 25 yd pass from Connor Cook (Michael Geiger kick)
STNFRDJordan Williamson 39 yd FG
 
Team Stats
 STNFRDMICHST
First Downs1121
Third Down Efficiency4-133-11
Fourth Down Efficiency0-20-0
Plays-Net Yards54-30571-397
Rushes-Yds36-16235-65
Passing Yds143332
Kick Return Yds940
Punt Return Yds421
Passes10-18-122-36-1
Punts5-2496-273
Fumbles-Lost2-01-1
Penalties-Yds8-554-35
Time of Poss.28:4931:11
 
Individual Stats
RUSHING
STNFRD: Tyler Gaffney 24-91, Kevin Hogan 8-41, Michael Rector 1-27, Ricky Seale 1-4, Ryan Hewitt 1-0, Team 1--1
MICHST: Jeremy Langford 23-84, Macgarrett Kings Jr. 2-7, Bennie Fowler 1--5, Team 3--6, Connor Cook 6--15
PASSING
STNFRD: Kevin Hogan 10-18-143-1
MICHST: Connor Cook 22-36-332-1
RECEIVING
STNFRD: Ty Montgomery 3-21, Michael Rector 2-44, Devon Cajuste 1-51, Barry Sanders 1-11, Ryan Hewitt 1-11, Anthony Wilkerson 1-7, Tyler Gaffney 1--2
MICHST: Tony Lippett 5-94, Jeremy Langford 5-17, Macgarrett Kings Jr. 4-52, Bennie Fowler 2-97, Trevon Pendleton 2-21, Keith Mumphery 1-20, Andrew Gleichert 1-17, Josiah Price 1-9, Jamal Lyles 1-5
 
Standings
TeamStandingsConferenceOverall
Stanford2nd Pac-12 North3-25-3
Michigan State1st Big Ten East4-07-1