Football Writers Association of America Nov. 23, 2015
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Richardson
Spartans stifle Ohio State in front of record crowd
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DALLAS (FWAA) – The Michigan State Spartans jolted the College Football Playoff rankings and put themselves back into the discussion when they beat Ohio State, 17-14, on Michael Geiger's 41-yard field goal as time expired. Ending the Buckeyes' 24-game win streak in front of an Ohio Stadium-record crowd of 108,975 earned the Spartans the AutoNation National Team of the Week honor for games of the weekend of Nov. 21.

The Spartans' defense controlled the game as Ohio State gained only five first downs and 132 yards of total offense, the lowest offensive output ever by an Urban Meyer-coached team. Michigan State contained the Buckeyes' vaunted ground attack to only 86 rushing yards, and held Ezekiel Elliott to 33 yards on 12 carries, ending his string of 15 consecutive games with at least 100 yards rushing. 

Ohio State had six three-and-out possessions with an offense that came into the game leading the Big Ten in scoring (36.4 points per game), rushing (244.8 yards per game) and second in total offense (453.3 per game). Montae Nicholson led the Spartans in tackles for the second game in a row with eight, one week after registering nine against Maryland.

It was Michigan State's second consecutive win at Ohio State following its 10-7 win there in 2011, and gave Ohio State its first Big Ten loss under Meyer after winning 30 straight. The Spartans have now won at least 10 games five times in the last six seasons, and they are now 6-1 in their last seven games against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 10.

"I think this was the first game this season we could take on the role of underdog," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "We came in with something to prove. Usually when you have that you have a chip on your shoulder and play better. Last February when we started winter conditioning we talked about reaching higher, and one of the ways we needed to reach higher was to come in here and win. We focused on this moment and we played hard."

Other AutoNation National Team of the Week nominees for the weekend of Nov. 21 included:

• Baylor (9-1): The Bears stayed alive in the Big 12 title chase with a gritty performance, taking out undefeated Oklahoma State, 45-35, on the road. Sophomore quarterback Chris Johnson, a third-teamer who had not played a snap at quarterback all season, came off the bench in the second half to throw for two touchdowns and run for another.

• Connecticut (6-5): The Huskies ended Houston's undefeated season with a 20-17 home win that also likely placed them into a bowl game for the first time since 2010. Noel Thomas had a pair of touchdowns, the second of which gave UConn a 20-10 lead with 9:48 to go off a halfback-pass.

• The Citadel (8-3): The Bulldogs shocked in-state foe South Carolina, 23-22, beating a Football Bowl Subdivision team for the first time since 1992. The win snapped South Carolina's 22-game home win streak over non-conference opponents, and made the Bulldogs the first FCS team to beat an SEC team since 2013. Next up for the Southern Conference co-champions are the FCS Playoffs, a postseason The Citadel has not been a part of since 1992.

As part of AutoNation’s history of charitable involvement, AutoNation will donate $1,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) in the Michigan State University's name. This charitable college football initiative culminates with the AutoNation Cure Bowl, a new post-season NCAA football game that kicks off bowl season at the Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla., and will be aired by CBS Sports Network. The aptly named AutoNation Cure Bowl also serves as a fund raiser for the BCRF, CharityWatch's only A+ rated breast cancer organization in the country.

"We want to celebrate the very best of college football, while also helping to raise awareness for the importance of finding a cure for cancer," says AutoNation CMO Marc Cannon. "This season-long partnership with the FWAA, leading up to the AutoNation Cure Bowl, puts a spotlight on a cause that we're determined to tackle."

"In our 75th season of existence, this a marvelous platform to get our players and the team of the week series excellent exposure as well as helping AutoNation in its effort to fight cancer and contribute to the educational funds of deserving student-athletes," said FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. "It is very exciting to be able to help our organization as well as others in this splendid effort."

The Football Writers Association of America has named a national team of the week since the 2002 season. This is the first season AutoNation has presented the award. Members of the FWAA All-America Committee decide the weekly honor. Each remaining Monday during the 2015 college football regular season, the FWAA will name a National Team of the Week. Members of the FWAA All-America Committee decide the weekly honor.

AutoNation is also the presenting sponsor of the FWAA's national offensive and defensive players of the week  announced each Tuesday, the 2015 FWAA All-America Team and the 75th Anniversary FWAA All-America Team. The 2015 AutoNation FWAA All-America Team will be announced at the AutoNation Cure Bowl on Dec. 19.

About AutoNation, Inc.:
AutoNation is transforming the automotive retail industry through bold leadership. We deliver a peerless automotive retail experience through our customer-focused sales and service processes. Owning and operating 293 new vehicle franchises, which sell 35 new vehicle brands across 15 states, AutoNation is America's largest automotive retailer, with state-of-the-art operations and the ability to leverage economies of scale that benefit the customer. As an indication of our leadership position in our industry, AutoNation is a component of the S&P 500 Index.

About the AutoNation Cure Bowl:
The AutoNation Cure Bowl a new post-season NCAA football game whose net proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The AutoNation Cure Bowl takes place December 19 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, and will be broadcast by CBS Sports Network. The bowl is scheduled to involve teams from the American Athletic and Sun Belt conferences.

About the Football Writers Association of America:
Founded in 1941, the FWAA consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at

2015 AutoNation National Teams of the Week
• Weekend of Sept. 5: Temple Owls
• Weekend of Sept. 12: Toledo Rockets
• Weekend of Sept. 19: Ole Miss Rebels
• Weekend of Sept. 26: Utah Utes
• Weekend of Oct. 3: Florida Gators
• Weekend of Oct. 10: Texas Longhorns
• Weekend of Oct. 17: Memphis Tigers
• Weekend of Oct. 24: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
• Weekend of Oct. 31: Iowa State Cyclones
• Weekend of Nov. 7: Navy Midshipmen
• Weekend of Nov. 14: Oklahoma Sooners
• Weekend of Nov. 21: Michigan State Spartans
• Weekend of Nov. 28: Stanford Cardinal
• Weekend of Dec. 5: Clemson Tigers