Thursday, January 1, 2015

Spartans make their first Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic a memorable one

   Michigan State's 25th bowl appearance, and first-ever in the Cotton Bowl Classic, was one to remember.
   The 21 points scored in the fourth quarter was the most ever by the Spartans in a single quarter in MSU bowl history.
   The rally from 20 points down (41-21, 4:03 left in the third quarter) was the largest ever by Michigan State in a bowl.
   The Spartans have now won four bowls in a row and are 11-14 overall in bowl games.
   The combined 83 points and 1,135 yards of offense (583 by Baylor, 562 by MSU) are Cotton Bowl records.

Spartans never stopped believin'

"I never lost belief. I never doubted myself or our team." - Michigan State QB Connor Cook

Spartans complete comeback from 34-14 deficit

  "I keep saying over and over we win because of chemistry...It's a belief in each other." - Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio

Interception seals it - the Spartans are 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Champs!

The on-field celebration begins!
   Riley Bullough's interception with two seconds left sealed Michigan State's dramatic, improbable victory in the 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
   Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty passed for 550 yards and three touchdowns - and lost. Michigan State's Connor Cook passed for 314 yards and two TDs, but was sacked just once compared to five times for Petty.
   While Baylor dominated the offensive yardage, the Bears also had an amazing minus-20 yards rushing. Michigan State owned the time of possession with 36:42 to Baylor's 23:18.
   Baylor simply wasn't able to burn enough clock to keep Michigan State from grinding its way back to the lead. The Spartans' winning TD and extra point came with a mere 17 seconds left in the game.

Touchdown, Spartans!

Michigan State players celebrate the extra point that gave them a 42-41 lead over Baylor with 17 seconds left.
   Thriller! Michigan State's Connor Cook hit Keith Mumphrey on a 10-yard slant in the end zone with 17 seconds left to send AT&T Stadium into pandemonium.
    Michael Geiger's extra point gave Michigan State a 42-41 lead and one of the best comebacks of the bowl season.


   Chris Callahan had a chance to put this one away with a 43-yard field goal, but the kick was blocked! RJ Williamson returned it to the Baylor 45. Spartans have 1:05 and no timeouts to make something happen, or can Baylor's defense protect its 41-35 lead?

Spartans make it a one-score game, 41-35

   This thing's not over. Michigan State rebounded from a crushing turnover to mount a nine-play, 60-yard touchdown drive.
   Jeremy Langford's one-yard touchdown, his third of the game, helped draw the Spartans within six points of the lead with 4:55 left.
   If the Michigan State defense can come up with stop, this game will get very, very interesting.

Turnover halts Spartans' rally

Taylor Young returns an interception in the fourth quarter.

   Just when it looked like Michigan State was going to make things really interesting, the turnover monster appeared.
  Michigan State had scored to cut Baylor's lead to 41-28, then the Spartans recovered an onside kick to keep momentum going their way.
   That momentum was soon sapped when Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, trying to avoid a sack, flipped the ball forward - right into the hands of Baylor linebacker Taylor Young.
   Young returned the ball 37 yards and Michigan State saw a chance to cut it to a one-score game evaporate. At least for the time being.

The stat sheets says it all: Baylor 41, Michigan State 21

   Baylor really needs to work on its running game. The Bears have minus-21 rushing yards through three quarter.
   Oh yeah, they also have 517 passing yards.
   The Bears' ability to strike through the air is the difference in this game. Michigan State has a respectable 338 yards of offense, but so far the Spartans can't keep pace with the Bears. They made need some turnovers in the fourth quarter to overcome the deficit.

Now that was a BIG touchdown!

6-7, 390-pound LaQuan McGown shows he's a skill player, too.  

   We may have had our most memorable moment of the 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. The image of 6-7, 390-pound offensive lineman LaQuan McGowan scoring on an 18-yard reception won't soon be forgotten.
   McGowan, normally a backup guard, lined up in a tackle-eligible formation and caught the Michigan State defense by surprise by hauling in the touchdown pass. McGowan's super-sized celebration afterwards was even more entertaining than his catch.
   The surprise TD gave Baylor a 41-21 lead as we enter the fourth quarter.

Scoring drive keeps Michigan State within reach, 34-21

   Michigan State stays within two scores of Baylor's lead with a nine-play, 63-yard scoring drive. The possession was capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Langford, his second of the day.
   Now it's up to the Spartans' defense to find a way to slow down Baylor's quick-strike offense. The Spartans can move the ball and score, but a track meet tempo benefits the Bears.

Another Baylor quick strike and it's a 34-14 lead for the Bears

   Baylor received the second half kickoff and didn't waste any time stretching its lead over Michigan State. Bryce Petty tossed a 74-yard touchdown pass to KD Cannon to make it 31-14.
   The scoring drive took all of two plays: 76 yards in 19 seconds of clock time. The touchdown was the second-longest reception by an FBS player at AT&T Stadium.
   Baylor's next possession resulted in a 46-yard field goal by Chris Callahan. That gives the Bears a 34-14 lead with 11:23 left in the third quarter.

Halftime stats tell the tale of Baylor's 24-14 lead

  It hasn't been all Baylor in the first half of the 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, but it's starting to tilt that way.

Follow the Cotton Bowl on Instagram

  Get an up-close view of the 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic through social media throughout the game by going to the Classic's Instagram account: cottonbowl.
   Lots of photos and videos to enjoy, including exclusive shots from the sidelines.

Stirring National Anthem before the start of the 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

A giant U.S. flag was unfurled on the field prior to the game
   The 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic got off to a stirring start with Freddie Jones playing a haunting version of the national anthem on his trumpet. Jones also performs the anthem before all Dallas Cowboys home games.
   Prior to the anthem, former Baylor coach Grant Teaff, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, gave the invocation.

Kilgore Rangerettes celebrate dual anniversaries

The Kilgore College Rangerettes
   Kilgore Rangerettes director Dana Blair tossed the coin before the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic in tribute to two anniversaries involving the world's most famous dance/drill team.
    The Rangerettes are celebrating their 75th anniversary of existence, as well as their 65th anniversary of being associated with the Cotton Bowl Classic.
   Congratulations, Rangerettes! It wouldn't be a Cotton Bowl without you.

Michigan State gets on the scoreboard first

Michigan State's Jeremy Langford scores from two yards out.
   It didn't take long for the scoring to start at the 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
   On the third play of the game, Michigan State's Jeremy Langford broke a 65-yard run down to the Baylor one yard line. It was the third-longest run ever by an FBS player at AT&T Stadium.
   A couple of plays later, Langford scored from two yards out to give Michigan State a 7-0 lead. The 75-yard drive took all of six plays and 2:33 off the clock.
   Baylor answered with a 10-play, 93-yard yard touchdown drive ending with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Petty to K.D. Cannon.
  So with 8:56 to play in the first quarter, we've already had a couple of big plays. The outlook is for many more to come.

Children's hospital visits are rewarding for patients as well as players

A Baylor player visits with a patient at Children's Medical Center

   One of the great traditions of the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic is the team visits to local children's hospitals.
   On Monday, Baylor players visited Children's Medical Center while Michigan State players spent time with the kids at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.
   Every year, the players come away thinking they've gotten more out of the visit than the patients
"It's always a unique perspective because we seem to be the heroes, quote unquote, and to me it's them that are the heroes," Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty said. "They have to go through things that I've never had to go through in my life, and they do it day in and day out.
"For everybody to see a day in the life of those kids, I think it puts a unique perspective on life for all of us, and really understand it and truly realize the blessing that we have to be able to get up each morning healthy and play football. Not being in a hospital every day is something you take for granted if you're not in there. For us to be a part of that was huge."

What makes the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic great: Volunteers like Cathy Luetje

Media Hotel Coordinator Cathy Luetje and her two walkie-talkies
   A bowl game is only as good as its volunteers, and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic has an army of first-rate volunteers making sure the event runs smoothly.
   One of the generals of the bowl's volunteer army is Cathy Leutje, the Media Hotel Coordinator who has been with the Cotton Bowl Classic for 24 years.
   Cathy is so busy, she needs two walkie-talkies to do her job! She gave us a minute out of her hectic schedule to explain why she donates so much time and energy to the Cotton Bowl Classic every year.
   "I love it," Luetje said. "I love the Cotton Bowl. I love the people. Every year it's like a family reunion. You come back, you see the same folks that you've worked with before. They're all great people and they're great to work with."
 And the worst part of her job?
"There's not enough hours in the day," Luetje sighed. "Lots of things happening at the same time, moving parts during the week and also trying to prep and get ready for gameday as well."
So why does she need two walkie-talkies?
"I have one that I can hear all the other traffic from the other hotels, team hotels as well as the stadium," Luetje explained. "One is an internal channel here at the media hotel. Communication is key, that's what it's all about."

Happy New Year from the 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

   Greetings from AT&T Stadium and the 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic! It's rainy and cold outside but warm and enthusiastic inside. The doors haven't opened yet to the public, but some of the sideline and halftime performers have been on the field warming up.
   Soon, it will be the teams from Baylor and Michigan State taking the field and kickoff will be here before you know it!