MSU QB Connor Cook became the winningest QB in MSU history Saturday. Matt Charboneau, Detroit News
East Lansing — At times, maybe even most of the time, that didn’t really look like Connor Cook on Saturday.
But, in the end, it was vintage Cook.
In a 24-21 thriller over Purdue, he got the win, the 28th of his Michigan State career, making him the winningest quarterback in program history. He passed Kirk Cousins.
“What it means is this program has won at an unparalleled level for a number of years,” coach Mark Dantonio said.
“He’s done an outstanding job.”
Cook is 28-3 for his college career, having taking over for Andrew Maxwell as the starting quarterback in 2013.
That season, MSU went 12-1 and won the Rose Bowl. Last season, the Spartans were 11-2. And this year, they’re 5-0.
“It means a lot,” said Cook, 22. “Football is a team sport. The one word that comes to my mind when you think of football is ‘together,’ the togetherness you have in the locker room and on the field.
“It’s great to have the most wins as a quarterback in MSU history. Credit goes to my teammates.”
Those teammates, of course, turn the credit back toward Cook, who also has helped lead MSU to three bowl victories. And, barring injury, he will have a shot at a fourth.
“He’s the guy we turn to,” senior center Jack Allen said. “That’s him.”
Said junior linebacker Riley Bullough: “It’s just a testament to him as a player and how he studies the game and how he executes on game day. His biggest asset is that he can make big plays and make plays out of nothing, which I think he did today a few times.”
Cook did that Saturday, but interestingly, he did it several times with his legs rather than his arm.
Cook threw the ball only 19 times, 13 of those in the first half, for 139 yards and a score. The bad weather limited the Spartans passing game in the second half, so Cook started scrambling – sometimes on designed plays, sometimes on his own.
He finished with 48 yards on five carries, none better than a 22-yard run up the middle in the third quarter. He stayed in for a hit on that play, popped up and emphatically pumped his fist, to the delight of the hearty crowd that remained.
“The weather and stuff, maybe not trusting my arm as much,” Cook said, explaining the decision to run more Saturday. “Coaches have been on me ever since 2013. ‘Hey, you gotta run, you gotta run, when are you gonna run?’
“It’s been going on for the past few seasons. Finally, I got out of my shell today and rushed a little bit.”
Dantonio was pleased to see that side of Cook, who picked up two first downs on his five rushes – and would’ve had another had he not slid too early on one rush.
It adds another wrinkle to the offense.
“When your quarterback becomes a threat to run the football, your offense takes on a whole other dynamic,” Dantonio said. “He’s got the wheels to do it.
“That’s something that we’ve been talking about a lot.”