Central Michigan had the Spartans sweating deep in the fourth quarter, down by seven, but just couldn't close on drives in the red zone throughout the day, as No. 2 Michigan State pulled away with the 30-10 victory.
CMU quarterback Cooper Rush completed 26 of his 39 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown and no interceptions. Anthony Rice lead the Chips in receptions with eight of them for 78 yards and also caught the lone touchdown thrown by Rush. Jessie Kroll also caught six passes for 86 yards, but fumbled the ball late in the game to seal the victory for the Spartans.
The Chippewa running backs were held in check for most of the game. Martez Walker was the starting running back ahead of Devon Spalding, but wasn't able to find any running lanes. Spalding, who wore Derrick Nash's number 21 in today's game, rushed 15 times for a tough 77 yards, 42 of which came on a long run down the sideline from the 9-yard line early in the third quarter.
For MSU, quarterback Connor Cook was able to complete 11 of his 19 attempted passes for only 143 yards and one touchdown, and like Rush, no interceptions. with Josiah Price catching the lone touchdown. The Spartans spread the wealth in the passing game, as seven different receivers caught a pass from Cook. Michigan State also had three different running backs in the game, with Madre London (15 rushes, 73 yards, one touchdown) leading in carries and yards. LJ Scott (8 carries, 54 yards), and Gerald Holmes (4 carries, 22 yards, two touchdowns). The running game came alive in the fourth quarter, an indication that the Chippewa defense had worn down.
Altogether, the Chippewas were able to outgain the Spartans in total yards, 340 to 324. Michigan State was able to capitalize on their good field position, and turn it into some form of points, thanks to a woeful day for CMU punter Ron Coluzzi, who struggled to get over 30 yards per punt consistently.
The lone turnover from Jessie Kroll was the ‘clincher' for the Spartans as they ran down the field and scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Central received the ball once again, but was unable to do anything on their last drive, as they went 4-and-out, giving the ball back to MSU to kneel down and run out the rest of the clock.
The Chips were able to hang around in this game until late in the third quarter, as MSU started to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Central did their best, but were unsuccessful, and failed to score any more then 10, showing that the Spartan defense started to shut down the Chips late in the game.
The defense of CMU was able to get some pressure on Cook, but were never able to get a sack, as MSU's defenseive line kept Cook upright. Their counterparts for Central had no such luck, giving up 2.5 sacks to Shiquile Calhoun. Both defenses played well, and showed what they can do.
The penalties that were called in the game changed the complexion of it. 17 penalties were called in this game, 9 from the Chippewas for 70 yards, and 8 from the Spartans for 78 yards. Many of them were controversial, but almost every flag is.
The Spartan special teams managed to block two out of the three field goals attempted by Brian Eavey, which shifted the momentum towards the Spartans. Shilique Calhoun got his hand up to block both the first and second attempts from Eavey. The height advantage on the line was noticed, and the Spartans were able to exploit it.
The Spartans open up Big Ten play against the Purdue Boilermakers, which is their homecoming game, and is projected to start at noon on Saturday. Michigan State should be able to win the rest of their games, aside from a big time matchup against the number team in the land, Ohio State.
Central Michigan also starts conference play as well with their homecoming game against the Northern Illinois Huskies, which is slated to start at 3 pm., also on Saturday. The Chippewas, who were the only MAC team to beat NIU last year, looks to repeat what they were able to do last year.