The Michigan State Spartans have announced weekly captains for the Week 12 matchup on the road versus the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus. While defeating OSU is a tall task, this is a huge opportunity for the Spartans, as a win will put MSU in the driver’s seat for a Big Ten East Division title.
As always, senior safety Xavier Henderson will lead the Spartans this week, and he will be joined by junior offensive guard J.D. Duplain, sophomore defensive end Jeff Pietrowski and redshirt senior punter Bryce Baringer. Interestingly, Henderson, Pietrowski and Duplain are all Ohio natives.
Despite Michigan State rotating captains every week, Henderson is the only Spartan who has been voted a team captain for each of MSU’s 10 games so far this season. For all intents and purposes, Henderson should be viewed as a permanent captain for the 2021 season. He leads the Spartans in both total tackles (82) and tackles for loss (10), while he is third on the team in sacks (three). Henderson has also recorded a forced fumble, an interception and two pass break-ups.
This is the second week that Duplain has gotten the nod at captain, as he served in the role in the loss against Purdue as well. The junior has been Michigan State’s starting left guard all season long and has played in every game. He has helped clear paths for Kenneth Walker III to lead the nation in rushing yards (1,473 yards), and is also a key part of a unit that has only allowed 16 sacks all season (tied for 33rd best in the nation). Overall, Duplain has 27 appearances in his career, and has started the majority of the games he has played in.
This is the first time this season that Pietrowski has been named captain, but it is well-deserved. The sophomore defensive end is tied with Jacub Panasiuk for the team lead in sacks (5.5) and ranks third on the team in tackles for loss (seven). Additionally, Pietrowski has amassed 26 total tackles, two quarterback hits, three forced fumbles (most on the team) and one fumble recovery.
Baringer, like Pietrowski, also earns captaincy for the first time this season. He has had a stellar year, ranking third in the nation and first in the Big Ten with an average of 49.36 yards per punt. The redshirt senior has punted 44 times for 2,172 yards with a long of 69 yards. He has had 20 punts of 50 yards or more and pinned opponents inside the 20-yard-line 13 times.