Coach: Mark Dantonio
Michigan State Players to watch:
Senior DE Kenny Willekes (6-4/262)
Michigan State fifth-year senior defensive end Kenny Willekes completed his improbable journey from walk-on to Burlsworth Trophy award winner. The annual award, named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth, is given to the nation’s most outstanding player who began his career as a walk on. Willekes has also been named first-team All-Big Ten for the second year in a row.
Willekes leads MSU and ranks tied for fourth in the Big Ten with a career-high nine sacks and is fourth overall in school history with 24.5 sacks. He also ranks first among all Big Ten defensive linemen with 69 tackles and has 14.5 tackles for loss this season. In 39 career games, including 37 starts, he has 220 tackles overall.
Senior DT Raequan Williams (6-4/295)
Team captain has started 41 consecutive games at defensive tackle, the longest active streak on the team and tied for the most in the Mark Dantonio era (Shilique Calhoun) . . . has a career-high five sacks this season . . . has 41 tackles overall and seven TFLs . . . ranks 19th in MSU history with 28.5 tackles for loss in his career . . . also named MSU’s Sportsmanship Award honoree . . . was a third-team All-Big Ten choice by the coaches and media as a junior in 2018 and an honorable mention selection by the media in 2017.
Senior FS David Dowell (6-1/205)
Dowell has played in 48 career games, including 35 consecutive starts at safety. He has 51 tackles, two pass break-ups, one interception and one fumble recovery this year. The senior from North Ridgeville, Ohio, has 172 career tackles and leads all active Spartans with eight career interceptions.
Senior OG Tyler Higby (6-5/300)
The three-year letterwinner has the versatility to play any position along line. Higby has played in 36 career games, with 26 career starts, including 21 at left guard, three at left tackle and two at center. He has accepted an invitation to play the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 18.
Higby was one of 10 Spartans to help volunteer with the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts during the bye weekend (Sept. 15-17, 2017) in his hometown of Houston.
Senior QB Brian Lewerke (6-3/213)
It wasn’t long ago when Lewerke was considered a possible Heisman Trophy dark horse off of a 10-win redshirt sophomore season in 2017 and prepared to lead a young Michigan State program back to the Big Ten Championship game. Instead, the Spartans have won 12 games over the last two seasons. Lewerke has NFL arm-strength, but he been knocked for indecisiveness and inconsistent play.
A good outing in his final game would be a sure way to turn some head. Lewerke has thrown for 7,973 yards and 46 touchdowns while at East Lansing.
Senior LB Joe Bachie (6-2/238)
Bachie, a three-year starter and two-year captain who led the team in tackles each of the last two seasons, was declared ineligible by the Big Ten after he “tested positive for a supplement that is classified as a performance-enhancing substance banned by the league,” Michigan State announced on Oct. 31. NCAA rules state the penalty for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug for the first time is the loss of one full year of eligibility and a ban from competition for 365 days from the date of the test.
After taking over as a starter in 2017, Bachie recorded 100 tackles and became the first sophomore named team MVP since quarterback Drew Stanton in 2004. He followed that up with 102 tackles, including 8.5 for a loss, one sack, an interception, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery last season. Bachie was named a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and decided to return for his senior season instead of leaving for the NFL.
Prior to his suspension, Bachie had 71 tackles, including 8.5 for loss, four pass breakups and an interception. The team has kept him involved by naming Bachie a “student coach” with the team.
Coach: Dave Clawson
Wake Forest Players to watch:
*Junior DE Carlos Basham (6-5/275)
Basham is second in the ACC in tackles for loss with 17 and third in the league with 10 sacks. He was the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week on Sept. 16. He recorded a season-high 2.5 sacks in games against Duke and North Carolina.
**Sophomore PK Nick Sciba (6-6/321)
Sciba set an NCAA record by converting 34 consecutive field goals including 23 straight in 2019. He finished the regular season making 24 of 25 field goal attempts and is the ACC leader in kick scoring with 9.7 points per game. His 116 points scored this year is a Wake Forest record.
*Junior P Dom Maggio (6-3/180)
Maggio finished second in the ACC in punting average at 46.8 yards per punt. That is the second best average in a season in school history, trailing only Ryan Plackemeier’s 47.2 average in 2005.
Senior WR Kendall Hinton (6-0/190)
Hinton was Wake Forest’s go-to receiver in the second half of the season. He finished the regular season with 70 receptions for 953 yards and three touchdowns and is second in the ACC in receiving yards per game and third in receptions per game. He had a season-high 189 receiving yards vs. Duke and his 252 all-purpose yards vs. the Blue Devils was the most by an ACC player this season.
Senior LT Justin Herron (6-5/290)
Herron is a four-year starter at left tackle for the Deacons and has tied the school record with 50 career starts. On the season, he graded out at 90 percent and posted 21 knockdown blocks. A team captain, Herron made an outstanding recovery after missing the 2018 season following major knee surgery. Herron was a third team All-ACC selection in 2017 as well.
Senior RT Jake Benzinger (6-7/300)
Benzinger was on the field for 927 snaps during the regular season and graded out at 88 percent with 12 knockdown blocks. He earned an invitation to the East-West Shrine Bowl and helped Wake Forest eclipse the 600-yard mark in total offense in a school record three games this season.
Senior WR Sage Surratt (6-3/220)
Surratt ended the regular season as the ACC leader in receiving yards with a school record 111.2 yards per game. He was a four-time ACC Receiver of the Week and led the nation with four games of 150 or more receiving yards. Surratt started each of the first nine games of the year before suffering a season-ending injury against Virginia Tech on Nov. 9.
Michigan State 27, Wake Forest 21
New York, NY
Dec 27, 2019 | 3:20 p.m. | ESPN
2018 New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Wisconsin 35, Miami 3