The question of who’s starting at quarterback for Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl has been answered.
MSU coach Mark Dantonio announced during his news conference Friday that redshirt junior Brian Lewerke will start against Oregon at noon PST on New Year’s Eve.
“Brian Lewerke will start the game,” Dantonio said. “He’s taken all the reps, pretty much throughout bowl practices. … We feel good about that.”
The key factor in the decision, Dantonio said, was to see how Lewerke’s arm strength was rather than his mechanical side of throwing a football, which Dantonio said sometimes takes awhile to heal.
“He’s back to being confident again in that strength, which is a big issue (when you’re not),” Dantonio said. “I think he’s ready to go. He’s done well.”
Lewerke suffered an unspecified right-shoulder injury since a win at Penn State Oct. 13, and hasn’t thrown for 200-plus yards since then, throwing for 281 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions while missing MSU’s victory over Purdue on Oct. 27 and its loss against Nebraska on Nov. 17.
Now, Lewerke said his arm has felt better since he first injured it against the Nittany Lions. Lewerke has thrown 1,868 yards for eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions so far this season.
“I’ve been practicing a little bit, so it’s feeling a lot better,” he said.
Lewerke, along with the rest of the Spartans (7-5, 5-4 in Big Ten), will face the Ducks (8-4, 5-4 in Pac-12) on FOX New Year’s Eve for the seventh time in program history, with the all-time series tied at 3-3 and a home-and-home series in the future from 2029-30.
“Really excited about the opportunity coming for our football program,” Dantonio said. “Two national brands. We’ve got a little bit of history between each other. Redbox Bowl has been tremendous — City of San Francisco as well. Our guys are having a great life experience. It all sort of comes to fruition.”