The Big Ten champion Spartans (12-1, 8-0) will face Pac-12 champ Stanford (11-2, 7-2) on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif. MSU earned a spot in the bowl by upsetting Ohio State 34-24 in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night in Indianapolis. The Spartans also soared to No. 4 in the final BCS rankings.
Williams, a freshman running back, and Terry, a freshman quarterback, have contributed to Michigan State’s dream season in different ways.
Williams has seen limited playing time in the backfield. He ranks third on the team with 238 yards on 38 carries in nine games. He rushed one time for 3 yards Saturday.
Terry, meanwhile, has helped the Spartans as a practice player. His ability to both throw and run effectively has made him the ideal candidate to simulate opposing quarterbacks at practice. Those talents have made him particularly helpful imitating standout double-threat quarterbacks such as Michigan’s Devin Gardner and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller.
After starring for Prep’s 2012 state title team, both Terry and Williams have had to delay personal goals in pursuit of team goals with MSU. Terry, for instance, worked his way into a four-way competition for the starting quarterback spot in the preseason. Fans chanted and tweeted his name as three more experienced QBs struggled early in the season.
However, sophomore Connor Cook emerged as the starter and has excelled, passing for 2,423 yards and 20 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He passed for 304 yards and three TDs to earn the Big Ten championship game’s MVP award. Cook also was named second-team all-Big Ten, so there’s no doubt he will enter his junior season as the starter.
Cook’s performance has forced MSU to redshirt Terry.
Before the season, it wasn’t clear if Williams would play offense or defense. MSU coaches eventually put him at running back, where the 220-pounder’s power running forced the coaching staff to burn his redshirt season. He had a couple of big games in a reserve role, but junior Jeremy Langford has had a firm grasp on the prime playing time while rusing for 1,338 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Both Williams and Terry could be seen on national television on the Lucas Oil Field turf during the postgame celebration Saturday night. They hope to celebrate with the Spartans again Jan. 1 in Pasadena.
– Jeff Kirik, sports editor