The legend of Pat Narduzzi grew during the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 7 in Indianapolis.
Narduzzi's defense did not allow a touchdown in half of the Spartans' games this season.
Michigan State’s 17-0 lead had evaporated quickly with Ohio State scoring 24 consecutive points over the second and third quarters to take a seven-point lead.
The Buckeyes would never score again.
Narduzzi, who is the 247Sports Defensive Coordinator of the Year for the 2013 season, made his way down from the coach’s box to the field to send a personal, in-your-face message to his defense.
Down the stretch against Ohio State, the Spartans' defense performed in the same dominating fashion it had all season. Michigan State rolled to a 34-24 victory, a 12-1 record, and the school’s first Rose Bowl appearance since 1988.
“He fired us up, man,” defensive end Shilique Calhoun told Spartan Tailgate. “When he comes down you know you gotta get your job done and that’s what we did. … We knew once he was down here, there was gonna be no upset. We can’t let him down and once you understand the passion and the love he puts into the game, you don’t want to let him down. You don’t want to be the guy that says, ‘Coach, I couldn’t do it,’ because he’s betting on you so much. He puts so much into you, so much into the program that once you see him you know, ‘I have to do my job.’”
"It made such a huge difference when he came down to the sidelines during the Big Ten Championship Game against Ohio State,” Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough said in an interview on the Michigan State athletics website. “His physical presence created the extra fire we needed in the fourth quarter. It was great to share that emotion with him on the sidelines. With Coach Narduzzi, it's the little things that make the difference."
Heading into the Rose Bowl, Michigan State's defense ranks No. 1 in the FBS in total defense (248.2 yards per game), rushing defense (80.8 ypg.) and opponent third-down conversions (.277). The Spartans also ranked second in team pass efficiency defense (91.48) and fourth in scoring defense (12.7 points per game).
"Pat pays great attention to detail, and he's an outstanding teacher,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said on the school’s website. “His relationships with his players also is a strength.”
Six times this season Michigan State’s defense didn’t allow a touchdown, and the Spartans led the Big Ten in every major defensive category.
"We play an aggressive defense at Michigan State, and it's definitely a little more complicated when compared to others around the country,” Bullough said. “It's a tribute to Coach Narduzzi and the rest of the defensive staff with the way they game plan each week. Not only do they come up with a great scheme, but they're able to present it in a way that the players can digest it and believe in it. And what's truly remarkable is the way he can make adjustments between plays and series. He deserves a ton of credit for what we've been able to accomplish during this special season."
For the past three seasons, Michigan State’s defense has been one of the stingiest in the country. The Spartans ranked No. 4 in total defense nationally in 2012 after finishing No. 6 in 2011.
"Pat has been the architect of a Top 10 defense for the last three years,” Dantonio said. “The fact that five of his players earned first-team All-Big Ten honors speaks to how dominant his defense has been this season. There's no question that his defense has been the cornerstone for this record-setting 12-win season."