Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook walked to the Rose Bowl sideline Wednesday, unsure of the greeting he would get from Coach Mark Dantonio.

Stanford had returned a second-quarter interception for a touchdown.

"Coach D was just giving me this look and I was hoping he wasn't going to be super upset and say something to put me down," Cook said.

But the ensuing exchange repeated a seasonlong script.


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"You good?" Dantonio said.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Cook answered.

The two traded a fist bump, felt better about the situation, and then went their separate ways.

"Everything," Cook said, "was good after that."

Cook came back on the ensuing possession and passed for a touchdown, propelling Michigan State to a 24-20 come-from-behind victory in the 100th Rose Bowl game.

Cook, a third-year sophomore in his first season as a starter, completed 22 of 36 passes for a career-best 332 yards and two touchdowns.

It was the second straight 300-yard passing performance by Cook, who passed for three touchdowns in the Spartans' Big Ten Conference championship-game victory over Ohio State.

"I could see it coming as we continued on through the season," said Dantonio, whose team finished 13-1. "He just continued to elevate his play with experience.

"We are in a big-time environment. We're at the Rose Bowl playing the No. 5 team in the nation. There is no bigger prize, really. How far can you go to reach that level emotionally? And he just continued just to impress."

Cook's two-yard touchdown pass to fullback Trevon Pendleton pulled Michigan State to within 17-14 just before halftime.

"Any time you can end the half on a touchdown, that gives you so much momentum," Cook said. "I think that was kind of like the turning point for the game."

His 25-yard touchdown pass to Tony Lippett early in the fourth quarter put the Spartans ahead, 24-17.

Cook's performance was far from seamless.

In the first quarter, Stanford linebacker Kevin Anderson dropped what looked like a certain interception.

Later in the quarter, Anderson picked off a short pass by Cook and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to put the Cardinal ahead, 17-7.

Stanford cornerback Wayne Lyons dropped a ball, and another potential interception was nullified when Stanford safety Jordan Richards was penalized for holding.