Spartans 2011 Recap & MVP's

With only the Outback Bowl game left before the total end of another successful season, Spartan Digest looks back upon the 2011 season with our season recap of the highs and lows.

Mark Dantonio's team entered the 2011 season with several questions despite coming off a Big Ten Championship in 2010. Despite injuries and losses from graduations, Michigan State proved to be a champion winning the Legends Division title and earning a spot in the first Big Ten Football Championship Game.

Record: 10-3 overall; 7-1 Big Ten (Legends Champion)

Bowl Earned: Outback Bowl vs. Georgia on January 2, 2012. 2011 Offensive MVP

Spartan Digest felt three members of the Spartans offense should be considered for this honor. Here are the three finalists and our choice for 2011 Offensive MVP.

Le'Veon Bell – The sophomore running back proved his worth and staying power with a solid second season. Bell rushed for 11 touchdowns and 900 yards on the season showing there is still room for a big-back in college football. Bell also pulled down 30 balls and posted 228 yards receiving.

Kirk Cousins – The senior captain left no stone unturned in his final season wearing the Green & White and walks away holding several career marks. Not only was Cousins the team's leader on the field, he showed why he earned captain honors from his teammates the past three seasons. On the field Cousins hit on 65% of this passes for 3,016 yards and 24 touchdowns while only throwing 7 interceptions.

B.J. Cunningham – The senior wide receiver was there when the Spartans needed him most as the offense struggled early. If the Spartans needed a big catch or a touchdown, there was a good chance Cunningham would be on the other end of the play. For the year the Ohio native pulled down 72 balls for 1,240 yards and 12 touchdowns.

After much consideration, Spartans Digest names Kirk Cousins and B.J. Cunningham Co-Offensive MVP's for the 2011 season. 2011 Defensive MVP

As hard as the offensive MVP was to name, the defense has several players deserving of the honor. Here are the finalists and our choice for 2011 Defensive MVP.

Trenton Robinson – The senior captain posted four interceptions to go with his 74 total tackles and was a leader on and off the field.

Jerel Worthy – While the Huber Heights (Ohio) native did not post the big tackle numbers, there is no mistaking the impact he made on the defense taking double teams and opening up teammates to make plays. With one of the fastest first steps in college football, Worthy proved to be a handful for team and still posted 8.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks to go with 25 tackles.

Marcus Rush – Only a redshirt freshman, Rush showed why the Spartans recruited him hard with 51 total tackles and four sacks on the season. The Cincinnati, Ohio native also posted nine quarterback hurries.

Max Bullough – Taking over for Greg Jones has many Spartan fans concerned. However, Bullough proved up to the task with his 86 total tackles and 3.5 sacks.

William Gholston – Year two proved to be the one where Gholston showed why he was one of the top recruits coming out of high school. On the year the sophomore posted 63 total tackles to go with three sacks and 11 tackles for loss.

Denicos Allen – Too short, too slow, whatever college coaches where thinking about Allen has now been put to rest after the Hamilton, Ohio product posted 78 total tackles along with 10 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. Allen also made photo of the year when he was caught flying through the air against Ohio State.

After much consideration knowing we could have listed at least a couple of more players the 2011 Defensive MVP is Denicos Allen. 2011 Specialist MVP

We looked at three Spartans here as punter Mike Sadler, kicker Dan Conroy, and return man Nick Hill. All three proved valuable during the 2011 season but Spartan Digest give this year's 2011 Specialist MVP to Nick Hill for his solid job of returning kickoffs. On the season, Hill had 36 returns for 938 yards (26.1 avg.). 2011 Freshman of the Year

No other freshman made as much of an impact as defensive end Marcus Rush. How good was Rush? Good enough to be in the running for our defensive honor as well.

Season Recap: Michigan State proved their Big Ten Championship performance in 2010 was no fluke coming back to win the Legends Division and posting back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in school history. The Spartans turned what many perceived as an ugly October schedule into a winning one beating Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin in consecutive weeks.

Season High: For the second straight season the Spartans provided college football with a game ending big play in front of a national audience. As time ticked off the clock, Kirk Cousins 56 yard throw bounced off B.J. Cunningham and into the hands of Keith Nichol. The play called "Rocket" will go down in Spartan lore along with "Little Giants" as the on field call was no touchdown. However, after several moments the officials reverse the on-field call giving the Spartans the touchdown and win over Wisconsin.

Season Low: There were two games that proved low points for the Spartans. Halloween weekend again proved to not like the Green & White as the Spartans went on the road and loss 24-3 to Nebraska. However, the loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game is our season low in 2011. The game saw the Spartans miss out on reaching the Rose Bowl for the second straight season despite their stellar play. To add salt to the wound, Michigan, a team the Spartans beat 28-14 earlier in the season was given a BCS berth.

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