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Michigan State will not play in bowl game, turns focus to 2021

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Earlier this week, Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said he’d love for his team to play in a bowl game.

However, on Sunday, Tucker and the Spartans confirmed they would not accept a bowl bid, effectively ending their season after winning two of seven games in Tucker’s first year leading the program.

Payton Thorne

“First and foremost, I would like to thank our medical staff for everything they have done for our program this season,” Tucker said in a statement. “We were extremely fortunate and grateful to have had the opportunity to play football this fall.

“We have decided as a program that the best decision for our team is to prepare for the 2021 season. I’m proud of the players for the way they handled themselves during this difficult and challenging year. They endured a season unlike any we have had before and worked hard to remain diligent in following all of our safety protocols. Our players have been on campus since re-arriving in June and deserve the chance to go home and take some time away from football.

“Even though our season has come to a close, the time that we have had to work with the players in practice and coach in games has been invaluable for us in establishing our culture. We’re looking forward to relentlessly working this offseason in preparation for the 2021 season. The future is bright for Michigan State football. Go Green!”

More: Michigan State lands OL Jarrett Horst from Arkansas State through transfer portal

The Spartans (2-5) had their final regular-season game scheduled for Saturday against Maryland canceled because of COVID-19 issues in the Terrapins program. The same thing happened the first time the teams were scheduled to play on Nov. 21.

The NCAA this season waived win total minimums as a bowl eligibility requirement this season, making a bowl game a possibility for Michigan State. But as other teams around the country decided to shut things done, including Big Ten programs Penn State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Rutgers, the Spartans decided to follow a similar path.

 “I’d like to thank Coach Mel Tucker, his staff, and most importantly our student-athletes for competing hard throughout the year,” Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman said. “In a season unlike any other, with more than its fair share of adversity, our team maintained its focus and fought each day to get better, while having the opportunity to coach and play the game they love. Our sports medicine team did an outstanding job taking care of our student-athletes and staff, whom should also be commended for their adherence to strict medical protocols and procedures. Their diligence gave us an opportunity to play each and every week.

“There are many positives to take away from this year and build on for the future, and I know Coach Tucker and his team are already looking forward to an offseason of improvement and preparation for 2021. There’s an exciting future ahead for Spartan football.”

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau