Banged-up Cousins facing last regular-season test

Published Nov. 24, 2010 1:15 a.m. ET

Kirk Cousins walked calmly over to a group of reporters and declared himself healthy.

Or at least, a lot healthier than he looked last weekend.

Cousins fought through sprains to his left shoulder and left ankle Saturday, helping the 11th-ranked Spartans rally to a 35-31 win over Purdue. He was noticeably hobbling at times, but with the Big Ten title on the line this weekend at Penn State, Cousins is determined to tough it out for one more regular-season game.

''I'm feeling better, definitely,'' Cousins said. ''It took some time to get healed up, but getting much better, and every day I'll continue to get better.''

Cousins looked fine Tuesday night, but the real test will come when he takes the field against the Nittany Lions. Michigan State (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) can clinch at least a tie for the conference title with a win, although the Spartans probably need Ohio State to lose to Michigan to have a chance at the Rose Bowl.

Coach Mark Dantonio said only that he thought Cousins was ''feeling good'' - Dantonio doesn't like to discuss injuries.

Cousins said his shoulder has been bothering him for a month, but his ailments weren't really noticeable until last weekend. He missed a series in the first half after aggravating the shoulder, and the ankle was also a problem.


Cousins said he nearly pulled himself out of the game, but he got a shot for his shoulder and another for the ankle at halftime.

''That's kind of a deal that you have to do when you get banged up to get through the game,'' he said. ''That's not an uncommon deal.''

Cousins ended up throwing three touchdown passes and running for the winning score in the fourth quarter. That ended an erratic stretch for Cousins in which he threw three interceptions in a loss to Iowa and went 9 of 20 in a win over Minnesota.

Cousins was criticized for throwing off his back foot - but it turns out the injured ankle had a lot to do with that.

''It was probably the number one reason,'' he said. ''But at the same time, toughness is the ability to block out that pain and still not lose your mechanics.''

Cousins didn't give too many details about what he's been able to do at practice, but it's clear he's looking forward to the long break between this weekend's game and whatever bowl the Spartans end up going to.

''It's something where rest is what's going to be best for it, but you can't just rest and shut it down. You just try to walk that fine line,'' he said. ''We've got to push through one more time.''