Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern's Joe Gaziano, left, sacks Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke for a safety during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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Sparty woe: Michigan St. could go from playoffs to home for postseason a year later

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My how things have changed.

Last season was one of the most successful ones in Michigan State history.  In 2015, 12 wins, second-most in school history, were capped off by the program’s first-ever appearance in the College Football Playoff.  Nine months later?

In East Lansing Saturday, MSU jumped out to a quick 14-point lead on Northwestern midway through the first quarter.  That was essentially the high-water mark in the game as the Wildcats outscored the Spartans 54-26 the rest of the way to claim a 54-40 win.

With the loss, MSU drops to 2-4 on the season — the same number of losses they had in their previous 27 games heading into this season.  It’s also the team’s fourth straight loss, the longest same-season streak since 2006.  That was also the last time the Spartans failed to qualify for a bowl game.

Given the remaining schedule, that streak of nine straight bowl appearances since is in jeopardy.

MSU still has to face rivals No. 4 Michigan and No. 2 Ohio State, although the silver lining there is they get both Big Ten East powerhouses in East Lansing.  They also have to go on the road to face a pair of teams currently 4-2 in Maryland and Penn State.  Arguably the only gimmes on the remaining slate are 2-5 Rutgers and 2-4 Illinois, with both of those teams serving as the current basement dwellers in the B1G East and West, respectively.

Suffice to say, Sparty will have a tough row to hoe in just getting to within shouting distance of six wins, let alone getting to that postseason plateau.

Riley Bullough returning to Mich. State after three-game injury absence

EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 8: Dontre Wilson #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes fumbles the ball on a kick return after being hit by Riley Bullough #30 of the Michigan State Spartans in the first half of the game at Spartan Stadium on November 8, 2014 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Desperately looking to snap a three-game losing streak, Michigan State will be getting back a defensive leader who, coincidentally or not, hasn’t played during the skein.

According to, a school official has confirmed that Riley Bullough will play in MSU’s game Saturday against Northwestern.  The starting linebacker has missed the last three games, losses to Wisconsin, Indiana and BYU in Weeks 4-6, respectively.

Prior to the Wisconsin game, Bullough, a senior, was tied for the team lead in tackles.

As for the nature of the injury that has kept Bullough on the sidelines for a third of the regular season?  MSU has yet to divulge any specifics, although the program stated that it dates back to before the start of the season and was aggravated in the Week 3 win over Notre Dame.

Last season, Bullough was named second-team All-Big Ten by the conference’s coaches.

Big Ten to use commemorative coin to honor Sam Foltz, Mike Sandler

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Tributes to Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler have seemingly been a weekly occurrence across college football the first four weeks of the season, and the players’ conference will get on board in Week 5.

A commemorative coin will be used to honor both Foltz and Sadler at all seven Big Ten games this weekend, the league announced Wednesday.  As this is the first full weekend of conference action, the coins, with Foltz on one side and Sadler on the other, will be used for the coin flip prior to each league matchup.

The Cornhuskers have decided to use the coins for the remainder of the season.

Folks and Sadler were killed in a July car accident on their way home from a kick camp in Wisconsin. LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye was injured in the wreck, but is kicking this season for the Tigers and honoring both by wearing special cleats.

Below are the coins that will be used, courtesy of the Big Ten:



Northwestern to pay tribute to Nebraska’s Sam Foltz with helmet sticker

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 14:  Drew Brown #34 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers is congratulated by teammate Sam Foltz #27 after Brown kicked the extra point in the first half against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on November 14, 2015 at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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A week after seeing visiting Oregon lay flowers on the field in honor of their fallen teammate, Nebraska will hit the road and see another opponent pay their respects for Sam Foltz. Northwestern will wear a helmet sticker on their football helmets this weekend as the Wildcats host Nebraska for a Big Ten opener.

Foltz was killed in a vehicle accident over the summer. Former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler was also killed in the accident and LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye was injured as well. The three were traveling together from a kicking camp in Wisconsin. In Nebraska’s season opener, the punting unit intentionally lined up with 10 men on the field and took a delay of game penalty, which was turned down by opponent Fresno State.

On Saturday, Oregon placed flowers at the Nebraska 27-yard line prior to the game as a show of respect for the program. This latest gesture by Northwestern is another reminder of the unity and family-like approach Pat Fitzgerald strives to have with his program and that can be found within a conference. Time will tell if other future Nebraska opponents find ways to share their condolences as well, but this is a wonderfully touching show of respect from the Northwestern program.

Western Michigan gets second B1G win of season, this one at Illini’s expense

CHAMPAIGN, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Jamauri Bogan #32 of the Western Michigan Broncos runs the ball for a touchdown as Julian Hylton #30 of the Illinois Fighting Illini follows at Memorial Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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If you squint and look at the standings in juuust the right light, it’s Western Michigan sitting atop the Big Ten’s West division.

WMU’s win over Northwestern in the season opener gave the MAC a win over a B1G school for a record 11th consecutive season.  Two weeks later, P.J. Fleck & Company rowed their boat to another B1G win.

On the strength of Jamauri Bogan‘s 189 yards rushing — he averaged 7.9 yards per carry — WMU ran over, through and around a porous Illinois defense for an easy 34-10 win.  As a team, the Broncos ran for 281 yards.

WMU’s run defense was their offensive counterpart’s equal, holding the Illini, which has lost to MAC schools three times in the conference’s 11-year streak, to just three yards rushing in 15 attempts.

The win was the Broncos second over the Illini in the five games in which they’ve played.  WMU owns a 6-31 record against BiG teams since 1963, although they own a 2-1 advantage over Iowa.