Michigan State fans dominated the Rose Bowl grounds and stands, with about 70 percent wearing green in the crowd of 95,173 — the game’s largest turnout since 1998. While the sideline roared and the stands rocked, even the stone-faced Dantonio celebrated.
PASADENA, Calif. — For all the analysis that precedes a contest like the Rose Bowl, for the hundreds of hours of scrutiny, Michigan State’s season hinged Wednesday on a quarterback who started the season as a backup and a linebacker who arrived on campus as a walk-on.
The quarterback is Connor Cook. He threw for 332 yards and 2 touchdowns against a stout Stanford defense, and played his best game in the final contest of his sophomore season.
The linebacker is Kyler Elsworth. He earned a scholarship before the 2011 season. He started in place of the suspended captain Max Bullough at middle linebacker, and on the game’s most critical play, he leapt over a pile of bodies late in the fourth quarter and smacked into the opposing ball carrier the way a hammer pounds into a nail.