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Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard helps stifle Stanford

David Butler II / USA TODAY Sports
Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard played to his usual shutdown standard in the Rose Bowl.

PASADENA, Calif. -- Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery was supposed to be the X-factor in the Rose Bowl, the difference-maker that could decide the 100th edition of the venerable game. But after Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi pointed out the pregame chatter about Montgomery to cornerback Darqueze Dennard at breakfast Wednesday, Montgomery ended up a non-factor.

Montgomery caught just three passes for 21 yards, smothered by the Jim Thorpe Award winner in the Spartans' 24-20 win over the Cardinal.

"He does things like that all the time," Michigan State safety Isaiah Lewis said. "I'm even surprised he caught a pass, Darqueze is so good."

Playing almost exclusively the press-man coverage that has become his trademark, Dennard (5-foot-11, 197 pounds) kept the speedy Montgomery from ever getting loose downfield, recording three tackles with one resulting in a loss of 2 yards.

"He has great technique," Lewis said. "Watching him play, it seems like he knows what route is coming before they even run the play. I'm definitely going to miss him, playing with the other guys in the No Fly Zone."

And while Stanford did connect on passes of 43 and 51 yards, quarterback Kevin Hogan ended up 10-of-18 passing for 143 yards and was intercepted once by corner Trae Waynes.

Montgomery was injured returning a kickoff in the fourth quarter and did not return. Stanford head coach David Shaw did not immediately know the extent of the injury, and Montgomery did not speak with the media.

Dennard capped his college career as the most decorated defensive back in the nation this season, winning several awards and earning All-America recognition. Not bad for a player that was barely recruited coming out of high school, but Lewis said that doubt and disrespect fueled Dennard's rise.

"It's how much you want it," Lewis said. "He wants to be great. He set his mind to it and he did it."

Identifying Montgomery as the game-changer that could take advantage of Dennard provided the perfect final chapter to his storied time at Michigan State, one last challenge to overcome.

"I like it," Dennard said. "At the end of the day, you got to come see me."

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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