Photo credit: pac-12.com
By Jeremy Kahn
SAN FRANCISCO — With bowl preparations all but done, it is time for the game for the 17th annual Redbox Bowl between the Michigan State Spartans and the Oregon Ducks.
The Spartans, coached by Mark Dantonio are looking to end the 2018 with a two-game winning streak, as they look for their second consecutive win in a bowl game.
It was on this date last year, the Spartans ended their 2017 season on a high note, as they defeated the Washington State Cougars 42-17 in the Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
This is the third time that the Spartans have finished their season in the state of California since the 2013 season.
It was on January 1, 2014 that the Spartans won their first Rose Bowl since 1988, when they came up with a huge defensive stop in defeating the Stanford Cardinal by the final score of 24-20.
Overall, this is the seventh time that the Spartans have made a bowl appearance in the State of California.
The Spartans are a perfect 6-0 in their previous bowl games in the Golden State, as they are 4-0 in the Rose Bowl, 1-0 in the aforementioned Holiday Bowl and 1-0 in the now defunct Silicon Valley Bowl.
In those six games, the Spartans are 4-0 against Pac-12 teams and 1-0 against teams from the Mountain West Conference.
This is the 10th time that the Spartans have played in the Bay Area, and the first since facing the CAL Golden Bears on August 30, 2008, where the Golden Bears defeated the Spartans 38-31 at Memorial Stadium.
The Spartans made their Bay Area debut against the University of San Francisco Dons, and went back to East Lansing with a 14-0 victory on November 27, 1937.
Almost two years later, the Spartans returned to the Bay Area, to face the Santa Clara Broncos; however, the Broncos defeated the Spartans 6- 0 on November 11, 1939.
On October 18, 1941, the Spartans once again faced the Broncos, and once again, the Broncos defeated the Spartans 7-0.
Seven years later, on November 27, 1948, the Spartans faced the Broncos for the final time and the game ended in a 21-21 tie.
Almost eight years later, on September 29, 1956, the 3rd ranked Spartans defeated the 12th ranked Stanford Indians (now Cardinal) 21-7 at Stanford Stadium.
Three hundred seventy-two days later, on October 5, 1957, the second ranked Spartans defeated the CAL Golden Bears 19-0 at Memorial Stadium.
In the next meeting between the Spartans and then Indians, Stanford upset the then sixth-ranked Spartans 16-13 on September 28, 1962.
The Spartans would not return to the Bay Area until they faced the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Silicon Valley Bowl on December 31, 2001 and lost to the Bulldogs 28-21 at Spartan Stadium on the campus of San Jose State University.
In their last trip to the Bay Area, the Golden Bears defeated the Spartans 38-31 under the lights at Memorial Stadium.
This season, the Spartans ended the regular season with a 7-5 record under Dantonio and are coming off a 14-10 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Spartan Stadium on November 24.
Eleven members of the Spartans team earned All-Big Ten honors, including first-team members in Junior Linebacker Joe Bachie, Sophomore Placekicker Matt Coghlin and Junior Defensive End Kenny Willekes.
The Spartans defense under Defensive Coordinator Mark Tressel, are ranked number one in the country in total rush defense, as they allow only 81.3 yards per game on the ground.
Brian Lewerke leads the Spartans offense, as the quarterback played in 10 games this season, as the redshirt Junior went 162-for-299 for 1,868 yards passing and also threw eight touchdowns, while he was picked off 10 times.
Senior Running back L.J. Scott will be playing in his final game for the Spartans, as he played in just four games and carried the ball 55 times for 180 yards.
Lewerke’s top target at wide receiver was Junior Wide Receiver Darrell Stewart, who hauled in 39 catches on the season. Cody White picked up the most yards thru the air, as he gained 491 yards.
Bachie was the team leader in tackles, as he picked up 94 tackles on the season and also intercepted one pass. Andrew Dowell was not far behind Bachie, as he ended the season with 90 tackles. Willekes led the Spartans in sacks, as he picked up 8.5 sacks in 12 games.