2011 has been a remarkable, record setting season in Spartan football, one of the best in school history. While the conference championship game didn't go our squads way, that doesn't diminish from the incredible accomplishments on the field both during this season, and throughout the careers, of some of the most noted Spartans, especially senior captain & starting QB Kirk Cousins.
Before the season began, TOC put up an article listing six Spartan career passing records that Kirk Cousins had a reasonable chance to break in his senior season: Passing attempts, completions, yards, TDs, interceptions, and completion percentage.
KC already was atop the leaderboard in completion percentage, and started the season 8th in attempts, 6th in completions, 4th in yards, 6th in touchdowns, and a lowly 16th in passes intercepted - all behind the notorious Jeff Smoker. And, in his, "he says he's an engineer so he must be great with math" guy sort of way, Pete Rossman was able to precisely calculate the likelihood of Cousins achieving each mark! Of course, it took an astute commentator to note that Pete based his calculations on a 13 game season, though a distinct possibility existed (and has been realized) for a 14 gamer.
I thought it would be fun, with 13 games down this season and one remaining in his illustrious Spartans career, to take a look at where our captain has gotten with each of these marks. (BTW, I'm using the career records and season records from the MSU Athletics homepage, so any inaccuracies are our SID's fault).
Attempts: KC began the season soldily in 8th overall with709, a whopping 441 behind Smoker at 1,150. Pete gave Cousins a 0.1% chance of getting this mark, and he was right - Cousins is at 1,078 through 13 games, or 72 behind Smoker. It would be nothing short of remarkable if he breaks this record.
Completions: Captain Kirk entered this seaons in 6th with 456, or 229 behind Smoker's 685. Pete felt that he was about two-thirds likely to hit this number in the first 13 games, which he did - Cousins stands 11 completions ahead Smoker at 696 with one game remaining.
Yards: Coming into his senior campaign, Cousins was 3,117 yards behind Smoker, at 5,815 to Smoker's 8,932. Needing to average just a hair under 240 yards/game to hit Pete the Prognosticator's 30% likelihood of becoming MSU's all-time passingest QB, Cousins fell just short in 13 games. However, he currently stands only 101 yards behind Smoker, a mark that I think he is highly likely to eclipse before halftime in the Outback Bowl.
Touchdowns: Through his first three seasons of play, KC was in 6th place on MSU's all time passing TD list with 41, exactly 20 TDs behind Smoker. As we all know, he set the all time record in the Northwestern game, and padded it with three more scoring tosses at Lucas Oil Stadium. Cousins now stands at first with 65 and counting.
Interceptions: This was one record that Cousins stood nearly no chance of breaking (or as Pete felt, a Blutarsky chance), as he entered the season with 20 picks, 19 behind Smoker. Breaking this record would mean Cousins also broke the single season record of 18 picks, owned by Billy Burke in the 1999 season. Fortunately, he has tossed only seven so far this season, keeping him far from the record.
Completion Percentage: Cousins already held the all-time completion percentage record coming into this season, so now just needed to maintain it. Only 0.1% ahead of our personal protector in the '03 Alamo Bowl, Cousins was able to not only maintain his grip on the lead, but tighten it ever so slightly. By posting MSU's 4th highest single season completion percentage, 65.0% on 240-369 passing with 7 picks, Cousins has further cemented his legacy by propping career that number up to 62.6%, or 0.4% better than 2nd place. Assuming he attempts 28 passes in the bowl (his season average is 28.3/game this year), he would need to complete 12 or less passes to fall below Stanton.
It's incredibly impressive to look back at what Cousins has done - he already owns 3 of the 4 good QB records, and will almost surely get the fourth in the bowl game. This is all of course on top of him owning the best overall statistic, wins - 26 career wins in his starts. And to top it all off, much like how Stanton will live forever in Spartan lore for coming up with the best nickname ever for some of the most annoying people in the midwest, Cousins coined the best possible response to the discount superstore clad fans of our friends in Ann Arbor that have found themselves trolling on here the past few days.
Other great Spartans put together terrific individual seasons, too - Isaiah Lewis became only the second, behind the late great Brad Van Pelt, to return two picks for a score this season, and of course BJ Cunningham is two touchdowns from tying Charles Rogers for both the season and career records (not to mention that he's already passed Andre "Bad Moon" Risen for #1 all time in yardage, becoming MSU's first Mr. 3000 in that category). This group and it's leader are one to be proud of, and I firmly believe that they've raised the bar and set a foundation for further Spartan success to come.