Michigan St's Cook can set school record with win vs Purdue
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) By the time Connor Cook solidified his hold on Michigan State's quarterback job in 2013, the Spartans had spent a season and a half trying to replace Kirk Cousins.
Now, Cook has won 27 games as the starting quarterback, matching Cousins' mark at the top of the school's career list. He'll have a chance to move ahead this weekend.
''When I was a freshman, I really could never imagine to be in the situation I'm in right now,'' Cook said. ''For all the wins that we've had as a team collectively, it's kind of crazy to think and look back.''
Cook will try to set the record Saturday when the second-ranked Spartans host Purdue in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Since Cook took over as the No. 1 quarterback early in the 2013 season, Michigan State has won a conference title, a Rose Bowl and a Cotton Bowl. He's 27-3 as the starter.
Cousins went 27-12 from 2009-11. Andrew Maxwell was the quarterback in 2012, but the Spartans struggled that year, and Cook played a bit in the team's bowl game as a redshirt freshman. The following year, the quarterback competition lingered into September before the coaching staff picked Cook.
His win total reflects how successful the Spartans have been as a team, and how well Cook has directed the offense.
''I think it's something we envision in the program that everybody should always chase, chase those things that we've accomplished already and go farther,'' coach Mark Dantonio said. ''We've had great success here in the last three years.''
The Spartans (4-0) are three-touchdown favorites this week against a Purdue team that has yet to beat an FBS opponent this season. The Boilermakers (1-3) lost to Bowling Green last week.
''A lot of times you work at something and you fail, you work and you fail, and all of a sudden you don't realize how close you are to where you want to be,'' Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said. ''That's what you're seeing in our guys' eyes in the locker room after the game - the understanding that they are getting there, they just have to take that next step.''
Here are a few things to watch when Michigan State hosts Purdue:
INJURIES: The Spartans lost OL Jack Conklin to a knee injury last week, and his status is unclear. Michigan State DB RJ Williamson and TE Josiah Price were also shaken up in that game.
BALANCE: Purdue managed only 77 yards rushing against Bowling Green on 38 attempts. David Blough threw for 340 yards for the Boilermakers, and he might need a similar performance to keep it close against Michigan State.
OPTIONS: Dantonio seems comfortable without a clear No. 1 running back. Madre London has rushed for 275 yards on 63 carries, and LJ Scott has 230 yards on 43 attempts. But it was Gerald Holmes who scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter last week, helping the Spartans pull away against Central Michigan.
STREAK: Michigan State has scored at least 30 points in 12 consecutive games, the longest active run in the FBS.
RARE OPPORTUNITY: Purdue hasn't faced an opponent ranked this high in the AP poll since 1999, when the Boilermakers lost 31-25 to No. 2 Penn State. The last time Purdue beat a top-five opponent was also in 1999 - a 52-28 victory over No. 5 Michigan State.