After Michigan State won its biggest game of the season without its starting quarterback last weekend, it's unsure if Connor Cook will play this weekend when the Spartans try to clinch a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Cook, Michigan State's senior signal-caller who sat out the win over Ohio State a week after suffering a shoulder injury against Maryland, was listed as a co-starter with backup Tyler O'Connor when the Spartans released their depth chart for this week's game on Tuesday. If healthy, obviously Cook would start, but an "or" when referring to who the starter will be means at this point, Cook's availability still remains up in the air.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said in an on-field interview immediately following last weekend's game that he thought Cook would be ready to play in the regular-season finale against Penn State but that it was still a day-to-day thing. Dantonio famously refuses to talk about injuries, so specifics on Cook's availability were pretty non-existent during his weekly press conference Tuesday.
But when asked whether there could be a situation in which Cook plays exclusively or just a little in conjunction with backups O'Connor and Damion Terry depending on his level of health, Dantonio at least provided an answer, making it seem like for the second straight week, Cook will be a game-time decision.
"I think there is a possibility for all those certainly. We'll see how it all shakes out," Dantonio said. "It's sort of hard to say when we're sitting (here) because Tuesday, (haven't) practiced (yet), don't know. So I would assume that things are moving forward.
"It's hard to assess those things until you get to game day. It really is. Because it hinges on very small things, I think."
O'Connor and Terry both played ample snaps in the win over Ohio State, but they weren't asked to do too much when it came to throwing the football. O'Connor threw 12 passes, completing seven for 89 yards and a touchdown. Terry threw four passes, completing just one for two yards. The two quarterbacks had identical rushing statistics, each running eight times for 25 yards.
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Dantonio said, though, that the Spartans threw the ball far less than they would have with Cook for a variety of reasons including weather conditions, short-yardage situations and strong performances from the running game and the defense.
With a win over Penn State on Saturday, Michigan State will win the Big Ten East Division championship, punching a ticket to the Big Ten title game. A win there over currently undefeated Iowa would put the Spartans right in the mix for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Moving forward, the services of Cook, who's likely been the Big Ten's best quarterback this season, will be required to keep Michigan State's season going.