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Michigan State shocks Baylor in Cotton Bowl on late comeback

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Kevin Jairaj / USA Today Sports
Michigan State's Jeremy Langford rushed for three touchdowns, including one in the fourth quarter.

There was a lot of talk about high-level Big Ten running backs this season, what with the likes of Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, Indiana's Tevin Coleman, Minnesota's David Cobb and Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah running wild at various points of the season.


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Overshadowed all season was Michigan State senior tailback Jeremy Langford, but he made sure he would be noticed Thursday, running for 162 yards and three touchdowns as the Spartans stunned Baylor with a huge fourth-quarter rally and won, 42-41, in the Cotton Bowl. Michigan State trailed 41-21 entering the period.

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Baylor became the only team this season to play in two games that involved 21-point fourth-quarter comebacks: On Oct. 11, the Bears rallied from 21 down to beat TCU 61-58 for the Horned Frogs' only loss.

Langford (6-foot-1, 208 pounds), who has accepted an invitation to the Reese's Senior Bowl, finished the season with 1,522 yards and 22 TDs, and he rushed for 2,944 yards and 40 TDs in his final two seasons with the Spartans. Thursday's performance was his 10th in a row with 100 yards and his seventh in a row with at least two rushing touchdowns. While he hasn't been used much as a receiver out of the backfield the last two seasons, he did spend time at cornerback and wide receiver during his college career.

Langford has good size and has been clocked in the low 4.4s in the 40. He runs with good balance and is durable, but despite his size and power, he struggled at times in short-yardage situations this season. The influx of talented underclassmen tailbacks will push Langford down some draft boards, but he appears to be a mid-round selection with the skill-set to be an effective back at the next level.


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Langford's 22 rushing TDs are tied for the most in a season in school history, along with Javon Ringer in 2008. His 1,522 yards are fifth-most in school history, and his 10 100-yard games are second-most in school history.

Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, who has said he intends to return for his senior season, threw for 324 yards and two touchdowns, both in the fourth quarter, but he also threw two interceptions and had trouble with his accuracy all game; he was 24-of-42, and his 57 percent completion rate marked the seventh time this season he completed fewer than 58 percent of his passes.

Baylor's Bryce Petty did his part in his final college game, passing for a season-high 550 yards and three touchdowns, but he was let down in the final quarter by the Bears' defense.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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